Chapter. Solutions that fit the environment
I’ve long since moved from the woods of Western Pennsylvania to the San Francisco Peninsula. I am fortunate that my weekly run passes with a near-constant view of the most recognizable architecture in the American West:
Building #3. The Golden Gate Bridge
(Our third and final building in this architectural triptych, following the discussion of Fallingwater in Chapter X.)
What is interesting is that there are much longer spans in the country and the world. Even in the same city, there exists a beautiful bridge that is both longer and of more utility. And yet this bridge represents the icon of San Francisco and of the state as a whole.
I’m not sure, but consider these things:
- The original design was for a hybrid cantilever and suspension structure. But it was replaced with a pure suspension design because the former was deemed too ugly. A pure suspension of this length had never been attempted before.
- Irving Morrow designed the bridge tower, lighting, and pedestrian walkways with an entirely Art Deco decorative influence.
- The bridge was painted in a specially formulated anti-rust paint in International Orange on demand from locals.
Think a moment of any of those design decisions. Each of them, along with the building of the structure in the first place, was fought as an uphill battle against economists, the rail lines, engineers, The War Department, and others. The Navy alone originally demanded it be painted black with yellow stripes to assure visibility with passing ships.
Can you imagine that?
For three years, I ran by by or cycled over the Golden Gate Bridge once a week at all times of day in all weather conditions, and, whether seen from the north side or the south, from the east or the west, I’m struck by the salient fact that it is iconic because the rust-colored, suspension-only, art deco structure is just right for the environment it is in.
The rust-colored paint evokes the hills of Marin to the north as well as the setting sun. It is natural and visible enough to be safe. It becomes an icon. Every time I catch sight of it I am inspired and thankful I can live in so beautiful a city.
Conclusion of the buildings triptych
I hope this discussion of three buildings—Fallingwater, Bellefield Towers, and the Golden Gate Bridge helps you see software development in a different way—that finding solutions are about using the right solution in a manner that fits with the environment.
Even then I realize that I can’t architect software structures that work as harmoniously together as a city such as San Francisco:
…but that it is my hope for you.