The annual University of Notre Dame School of Architecture Driehaus Prize events were held this past weekend in Chicago. I was fortunate to attend, along with my dear friend and colleague Kevin Hart AIA, FRSA.

Kevin handed me a printed version of the acceptance address Andrés Duany delivered when he was awarded the Prize in 2008. You can read this remarkable document here.

Duany contributes an inspired manifesto to the new urban conversation, proposing a ‘new ethos’ that would expand the classical architectural canon to engage the 21st century by using folk vernacular as the springboard for transcending the authority of masters and masterpieces.

Duany makes a hugely valuable distinction between vernacular style and the vernacular mind:

Not “the vernacular,” which is a style, but the vernacular mind, which is the way of folk art. It is the ability to compose from memory and circumstance, with found materials, of working sequentially through anything and everything, with craft but not perfection.

Duany argues for tapping the power of the vernacular mind to claim “an enormous amount of new territory” for architectural classicism and the high peaks of 21st century architecture. Hats off!

Theory of mind is also on the mind of economist Robert J. Shiller, who ponders theory of mind in relation to the current financial crisis and economic forecasts in his recent article, “It Pays to Understand the Mind-Set.”

As Schiller describes, theory of mind is “defined by cognitive scientists as humans’ innate ability, evolved over millions of years, to judge others’ changing thinking, their understandings, their intentions, their pretenses. It is a judgment facility, quite different from our quantitative faculties.”

Only good things can happen when esteemed town planners and economists start talking about theory of mind.

More on cognitive science and theory of mind is available at the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.


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