As an English major who became an architect, I find most of my architectural
inspirations in literature. I began assembling these references in the pre-digital
age by copying quotations onto note cards, and the collection has continued
to grow over the past quarter century.
The work is greatly influenced by Walter Benjamin’s Arcades Project—an
exceptional concordance of references organized around the theme of the Paris
arcades and their larger cultural context. Like Benjamin, I seek to establish
correspondences among fragments that, when assembled, form a new work—one
rooted in the serendipity of previously unforeseen associations. In this way,
the work is continually evolving, and will never be finished.
The quotations are gleaned from three genres: fiction, poetry, and the essay.
Sometimes it is difficult to know how to frame a quotation, how to find it’s “beginning” and
its “end” within the larger work. In some cases, I limit the quotation
from fiction and essays to a single sentence (never less), and sometimes include
a whole paragraph. In rare cases, it is more than one paragraph, or an exchange
of dialogue. The quotations from poetry are most often a stanza, or the equivalent
length, but in the case of Ezra Pound’s In the Station of the Metro and
A. A. Milne’s Halfway Down, the quotation is the entire poem. You can
search for quotations by genre, by author, or by subject, or by a combination
of any two of these. For example, you can find the several ways in which Robert
Frost described a wall, or you can search for fictional quotations that reference
the element of the porch.
The site is taking shape slowly, so please be patient. I hope that you will
also visit my other website, rootsforarchitects.net,
in which I am exploring the linguistic roots of spatial words.
If you would like to contribute a quotation, please . Should I select your quotation to become part of the collection, I will list
your name in the index of credits.
Thanks for visiting.
Associate Professor of Architecture
University of California at Berkeley