Tuesday, January 27, 2009


In some places, air is the memorable element. How a building invites the experience of crisp mountain air or warm sea breezes can be a major feature of the design. This was the case four years ago on the first day of spring in Paris. After a hard winter, the city parks teemed with people drinking in the sun and taking in the soft, sweet air. 

Walking up the Rue Soufflot, I saw the portico of the Pantheon draped with long yellow curtains. The fixed, classical facade now swayed gently with the breeze. The scene drew me like a vision in a dream. Standing inside the portico looking out intensified the dreamlike quality. The limestone Corinthian columns framing the golden banners responding to each nuance of the breeze seemed both timeless and completely of the moment. Every measurable boundary of this physical setting carried my senses toward what is beyond measure and boundary. Again and again, with each ripple of the curtains against the limestone columns, the movement of the wind widened the circumference of my perception into air.

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