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16. “Public buildings reveal much about the attitudes and values of the society that builds them. Today’s new schools, courthouses, airports, and libraries, for example, reflect the attitudes and values of today’s society.”
Discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the opinion stated above. Support your views with reasons and/or examples from your own experience, observations, or reading.
The extent to which new public buildings reflect societal values and attitudes depends on whether one considers a building’s intended function or its design. In the former sense, new public buildings do mirror society, while in the latter sense they do not.
The intended uses of new public buildings say something about our priorities and values as a society. For example, proliferation of public cultural centers and schools reflects a societal concern for the arts and education, respectively, while new prison construction indicates a heightened concern for safety and security.
The design of new public buildings, however, fails to mirror society, for two reasons. First, modern democratic states do not have the luxury of making cultural “statements” at any expense. Functionality and fiscal1 accountability dictate2 the face of public architecture today. Second, public participation3 in the process is limited. New buildings typically reflect the architect’s eccentric vision or the preference of a few public officials, not the populace’s values and attitudes. In England, for example, Prince Charles oversees4 and approves the design of new public buildings. The resulting conventional designs suggest his unwillingness5 to break from tradition. Yet it would seem unfair to assign his lack of vision to English society. In Denver, the controversial design of a new airport met with public outcry for its appearance, expense, and lack of functionality. Does the airport reflect the values of Denver’s denizens6? Probably not.
In conclusion, while modern public buildings seem to reflect the values and attitudes of a society in their function, they do not necessarily do so in their design.


1 fiscal agbzf     
  • The increase of taxation is an important fiscal policy.增税是一项重要的财政政策。
  • The government has two basic strategies of fiscal policy available.政府有两个可行的财政政策基本战略。
2 dictate fvGxN     
  • It took him a long time to dictate this letter.口述这封信花了他很长时间。
  • What right have you to dictate to others?你有什么资格向别人发号施令?
3 participation KS9zu     
  • Some of the magic tricks called for audience participation.有些魔术要求有观众的参与。
  • The scheme aims to encourage increased participation in sporting activities.这个方案旨在鼓励大众更多地参与体育活动。
4 oversees 4607550c43b2b83434e5e72ac137def4     
v.监督,监视( oversee的第三人称单数 )
  • She oversees both the research and the manufacturing departments. 她既监督研究部门又监督生产部门。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • The Department of Education oversees the federal programs dealing with education. 教育部监管处理教育的联邦程序。 来自互联网
5 unwillingness 0aca33eefc696aef7800706b9c45297d     
n. 不愿意,不情愿
  • Her unwillingness to answer questions undermined the strength of her position. 她不愿回答问题,这不利于她所处的形势。
  • His apparent unwillingness would disappear if we paid him enough. 如果我们付足了钱,他露出的那副不乐意的神情就会消失。
6 denizens b504bf59e564ac3f33d0d2f4de63071b     
n.居民,住户( denizen的名词复数 )
  • polar bears, denizens of the frozen north 北极熊,在冰天雪地的北方生活的动物
  • At length these denizens of the swamps disappeared in their turn. 到了后来,连这些沼泽国的居民们也不见了。 来自辞典例句