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Bridges and Buildings: Exploring the Built Environment  


Well-building hath three conditions: Commodity, firmness, and delight.
--Sir Henry Wooten

For thousands of years architects have known that good buildings stand up to gravity, serve their purpose, and look good. WQED's Pittsburgh History Series can take us on a guided tour of these ideas--structure, function, and appearance--as clues to how the Pittsburghers who came before us lived, thought, and believed.

Related subjects: Art, math, science, social studies

Grade levels: Adaptable 3-12 grades

FYI: Background article

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The built environment

As we navigate our way through Pittsburgh's built environment, we are often oblivious of some of its most fascinating features. After all, who bothers to notice a bridge if you're preoccupied by reaching your destination at the other side? Who has time to appreciate a skyscraper if you can only think of getting to your business meeting on the tenth floor? Who thinks of the window frames of a bedroom as anything other than a benignly familiar sight viewed day in and day out? Who worries about the structure of the roof overhead unless it is leaking?

Architecture: The art we live with everyday

Architecture is the art we live with everyday, yet we seldom give it a single thought. And according to some architects, that's just as it should be. They believe a well-designed structure should do its job without getting in the way.

Unlocking the door to the past

But if we do think about the bridges, buildings and homes that distinguish our city, they can tell us quite a lot about the people who built and used them. WQED's Pittsburgh History Series can guide us on a virtual tour of the region's most fascinating architecture. In the process, we'll learn something about history, art, and science hidden in the built environment of our own communities. In every structure, we can decipher clues to the past, and discover hints of the future.


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