Grace is a bit of an outdated term in architecture for a few reasons. Describing a building as “having grace” reduces a building exclusively to the beauty of the exterior, to the exclusion of what is inside. Additionally, “grace” has been used and abused by the Postmodernists and look what came out of it (hint: Michael Graves’ Portland Building). The result was a style of buildings that borrow grace from past periods without their own integrity.
Today, a building’s authenticity relates to the harmony of its program, form, and construction – with the simple request that it does not pretend to be more or less than it is. Let the sheetrock be the design principle where the sheetrock is used and the vinyl cladding where cost and durability demands. This might not create grace, but certainly honesty. Through this honesty, the quality of construction can improve as a building’s authenticity and integrity is laid plain.
In our case we would rather expose than hide. You can see evidence of this in the massive molding wall built out of plaster that was part of an apartment my firm designed – it took 3 guys 6 weeks to build it using traditional molding technique – or in the grassy hill for our project, the MINI rooftop, with all its flaws and challenges involved in keeping the grass alive.