Enough Tupperware
by Leslie Lawrence '72

Community Service


by Norine Dworkin '88 / photos by Richard Frank

Kicking back in one of historic Brooklyn's charming garden patisseries, architect Daniel Ruiz '88 muses about gargoyles. Sure, they're charming in a twisted, Halloweeny sort of way. But what he really likes about them is that they do more than scare the faithful from straying off the path of righteousness. He likes them because they're functional. "A gargoyle is artistic expression, but it's also providing weight to the buttress so that the loads coming down from the spire and the roof of the medieval church get transferred properly," explains Ruiz. In fact, he says, if it weren't for those creepy gargoyles, churches the world over would be toppling right and left. Even so, you don't expect today's Wallpaper-driven architects to appreciate a bunch of stone critters that resemble deranged Yodas hyped up on steroids. But bizarre as they are, Ruiz believes they still offer lessons in how community values can be articulated.

This idea--that buildings be more than the sum of their steel beams, concrete, glass, and drywall--is what really fires Ruiz's passion for architecture. The Bauhaus decreed that a building's functionality should be evident in its form. Ruiz pushes the concept a step further: That a building be reflective of, indeed, indebted to, the community that houses it. "I'm interested in how architecture relates to the public realm, how people interact with it, partly in terms of how they live in those spaces, but even more so, how different pieces of architecture come together to create a civic space," he explains. "When I think about culture, I think about what makes a community, how people relate together in a place that makes it unique. That's what makes a culture, and it's from there that you have your artistic expression."
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