I was asked the following recently, with regard to whether our era continues to produce architectural accomplishments of a refined, uplifting, and glorious character: “But do we have anything that really compares to Chartres Cathedral?”
While the Chartres Cathedral is undoubtedly a creation of great beauty and impeccable skill, I think that the Burj Khalifa and The Shard are, in fact, more impressive – and far more functional and directly relevant to the improvement of human life. As Howard Roark put it in Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead with respect to the emergence of great skyscrapers, “Mankind will never destroy itself… Nor should it think of itself as destroyed. Not so long as it does things such as this.” It always exhilarates me to read of new height records broken by skyscrapers in our time – and to see the new structures depart in increasingly creative ways from the “glass box” paradigm. As long as this kind of innovation keeps taking place, there is hope for our civilization.