How Morton Feldman’s music inspired the architecture of this major new arts complex at Princeton

Raphael Mostel in Architectural Record:

Holl-Princeton-Arts-01Steven Holl frequently seeks ideas in the Architectonics of Music, and as a composer I consulted on the Lewis Arts Complex.

Visiting the finished building now, I see the ideas of Morton Feldman’s music everywhere in Steven’s magnificent realization—and not just in the rugs of the Music Building that reproduce the graphic notation of Feldman’s early works. Steven’s architecture embodies the spirit of Feldman’s expansive and mystical late works.

Although written in conventional notation and with great precision, Feldman’s late compositions direct attention away from the tick-tock that keeps most music earthbound. They likewise eschew amorphousness. Likewise Steven’s designs disdain both quotidian regularity and deliberate disorientation.

Feldman achieves a ‘tapestry of sound’ not only in the multi-layered terms of harmony, but also in the more profound sense as a totally integrating force of expanding self-referential relationships, weaving and knotting ever widening loops, through sequences with repetitions and near-repetitions. Each note always in relation to many others, and the group relation always clearly related to a larger perspective, and an even larger perspective in turn. By this musical alchemy every individual note gains an almost physical presence and sense of integrity as a participant in emergent patterns and then patterns-in-patterns, even with altered positioning in these patterns.

More here.