All media work us over completely. They are so pervasive in their personal, political, economic, aesthetic, psychological, moral, ethical, and social consequences that they leave no part of us untouched, unaffected, unaltered. The medium is the message. Any understanding of social and cultural change is impossible without a knowledge of the way media work as environments.
— Marshall McLuhan, “The Medium is the Message”
Architecture is one of humankind’s ur-media — nearly as primitive and fundamental as pictorial art and language. From its role as one of civilization’s first means of mass broadcast, telling mytho-religious stories and reifying sociopolitical orders, to its more ambiguous formal strategies in the modern era, which sought to contain more and communicate less, architecture has long been the framework within and around which all other forms of media have flourished. It remains one of the most reliable ways to read and interpret the character of our societies.
In this issue of Texas Architect, we examine five architectural projects designed specifically to support other types of media: an art school and an art conservation facility at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; UT-Austin School of Architecture’s new review spaces, which provide infrastructure for analog and digital presentations; a photography store that doubles as a community center in Fort Worth; and a public square in Saint Louis whose very walls are active substrates for moving images and digital device engagement.