Anderson, Indiana

AU alumna looks at our journey to 21st century architecture

Wed, 2013-07-31 13:20 -- univcomm
Shirley Montgomery
July 31, 2013

The pyramids of Egypt. Italy’s Villa Rotunda. Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. Anderson’s own Victorian style Gruenewald House.

Anderson author Shirley Montgomery takes a colorful and interesting look at architecture through history, then delivers her readers to the doorstep of an entirely new and unprecedented era in architecture in her newly published book, Architecture of the Early Twenty-First Century: A Global Need for Sustainability.

Montgomery offers readers a visual tour of the historical references that have impacted United States architecture and beyond. She documents the journey with ample color photographs, including some of regional interest.

Segue into the second part of Montgomery’s book, however, and you’re stepping into the 21st century where architecture is a whole new ballgame. The current imperative for development that is sustainable is defining a new style in architecture.

“Our buildings look different today,” says Montgomery in the preface. As climate change looms ever more undeniably, buildings that strive for eco-efficiency are dominating the landscape of new architecture.

“A lot of people interested in the history of architecture are not interested in sustainable,” said Montgomery. “I think a lot more people would be interested if they realized that was the direction architecture is heading now.”

“Buildings today look the way they do because of alternative energy,” said Montgomery. Today’s architecture employs solar, geo-thermal, and wind energy. While net zero energy consumption may be a goal, at the same time, the new architecture speaks to quality of life for those within its walls.

“There’s a lot of daylighting going on, open air,” said Montgomery. “You’re part of the outdoors.”

“They’re trying to enhance the living environment for people working in their buildings. It just really has an impact on you,” said Montgomery. The author acknowledges that sustainable development in architecture is a process.

“It’s just something that has to happen gradually,” said Montgomery.

Nevertheless, she has a sense of urgency. “I think it’s terribly important. ... I think we can have a really huge impact on the melting of the ice cap and the raising of the sea shore.”

Montgomery brings authority to her topic, but she brings a passion as well.

Montgomery is one-half of the duo who founded Anderson’s krM Architecture in 1978. Her husband, Kenneth, was the principal architect. The firm’s work is evidenced in public and private buildings all around Anderson and in other cities.

Montgomery is an interior designer and art educator whose hand is visible, for example, in the interior design of the Anderson Public Library.

Montgomery was at home raising nine kids, several of whom went on to become architects, prior to earning her bachelor of arts in education at Anderson University in 1975. She then earned a master's in art education from Ball State University in 1982. She taught at the university-level for seven years. In 2008, Montgomery tacked on a master's of architecture from Ball State.

“My emphasis was on sustainable architecture,” said Montgomery. “It sort of changed my world.”

Montgomery, now 79, founded her book first on the work she did in documenting the historical references that influenced architectural style in the United States for her master's thesis in 1982. Then, she explored what’s happening today, and why.

“It was something I felt like I had to do,” said Montgomery.

Montgomery’s 153-page book is a thought-provoking work, and its ample selection of photographs is engaging. The book is available through and in print or e-book form.

— Nancy R. Elliott is a reporter for The Herald Bulletin. Reposted with permission. Photo credit: Nancy R. Elliott.

Anderson University is a private Christian university of about 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson University continues to be recognized as one of America's top colleges by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and Forbes. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, music, nursing, and theology.