Alternative Architecture Facts

Welcome to 2017! It’s the dawning of a new year and of course, a new president. In honor of my first post under the new regime, I’m repurposing one of the most infamous turns of phrase produced by this fledgling administration. No, not “Muslim Ban”. Not “Bowling Green Massacre”, either. And not “Pussyhats” or “Dissent Channel” or “Sean Spicer’s Password” or “Millions of Illegal Voters”. I’m talking about “Alternative Facts”. If you’ve been a dedicated reader of my blog for the last 13 years, you probably think that you’re pretty well versed in both the history of architecture as well as the most famous  contemporary practitioners. But I bet that even those most dedicated design devotees will be dazzled by some of these Alternative Architecture Facts.

  • Frank Lloyd Wright invented architecture in 1904. To date, he’s still the only American architect who has ever mattered.
  • The visible portion of the Empire State Building is actually only 2% of the entire structure.*


  • Madness‘ 1982 song “Our House” was written to protest a developer’s greedy exploitation of a zoning loophole allowing houses to be built in the middle of the street
  • Due to peculiarities in the Dutch apprenticeship system, Rem Koolhaas was legally obligated to design cool houses for a living.
  • Architects wear all black because they are mourning a better life they could have had.
  • The pyramids were built to store grain.*
  • The legendary Farnsworth house was originally supposed to be a “barn” for the “Worth” family, but Mies was watching a lot of Futurama at the time and nobody had the heart to correct him.
  • Frank Gehry was a Mouseketeer.
  • Those who are fleet of hand should attempt to rub upon Sir Norman Foster’s head, for if you can complete three circuits of his bare pate before he can say “Structural Expressionism”, he is bound by magical contract to grant you a single wish.
  • Hollywood celebrities often design their ceilings to be walked on in case an earthquake ever turns their house upside down.

  • Renzo Piano’s parents were Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf and an actual piano.
  • If you recite his 5 points 13 times while standing in front of a mirror you’ll see Le Corbusier’s ghost.
  • Architects make a lot of money for not a lot of work.*

That’s all the ones I know. The ones that are starred are contributions from my friends, like my buddy Nate and my best friend Ben Carson, secretary of HUD. If you know of any more than the ones we thought of, leave them in the comments here or on my Facebook page, or tweet them to The Deplorable @raybowman. Or maybe take a picture of your favorite architectural wonder for Instagram (@rmbarch) and caption it with an alternative fact. Just make sure you use the cumbersome hashtag #AlternativeArchitectureFact. Or think of a better hashtag and use that, just tell me about it if you do so that I can be cool.


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