Evaluating Progressivism: A Critique of Biological Analogy- Wynn Buzzell- UNC Charlotte

It would seem that since humanity first began building settlements and creating tools that it has been marching tenaciously upon a path of progress.  So intertwined have been the actions of humanity with advancement, that the ages themselves take title from the character of human creation.  The Stone Age, The Bronze Age, and the Iron Age are each characterized according to the level of sophistication reached by humans through progress.  Steady progress through Antiquity and the Middle Ages inevitably lead to a critical mass of knowledge, which manifested itself as the Enlightenment and ultimately the Industrial Revolution.  By the beginning of the twentieth century, American culture was being characterized by the Progressive Era, which sought to fundamentally change the country from every angle. 

But progress has its price, technology and innovation often march forward without regard for obstacles in their path.  For this reason we question the validity and sustainability of our ideas regarding what was, is, and will be considered progress.  If we are to properly and justly ascribe meaning to nascent movements in progressivism, then we must strive to understand them objectively as they exist within a cogent historical context.  Only through such historical systems can the characteristically ephemeral nature of “style”  be eliminated, and the validity of progress be considered.

The following discourse considers biomimicry as one such progressive trend, and aims to examine its validity and relevance, particularly as it relates to architecture.  Establishment of validity will be accomplished through examination of its historical context, definition of its typologies and methodologies, taxonomic categorization of its terminology, a discussion of its contemporary portrayal, and provision of a series of illustrative examples to augment the observations offered.  These observations, characterizations and conclusions, will be discussed through conceptual consideration of how “second nature” and humanities innate biophilic tendencies have given rise to biomimetic architectural methodologies.