My wife and I bought our first house about 30 years ago.  It had a struggling lawn with tall weeds and not a tree in sight.  Naturally, the next thing we bought was an edger.

You might have thought “lawn mower” or “tree” or even “lawn”.  But I’m convinced that if the edges are right, you buy forgiveness in the middle.  Most people’s attention is drawn to intersections between materials.  So even though it took years for the lawn to contain (mostly) one species of grass, the neat seam between grass and concrete drive made everything look civilized. It’s an architectural “trick.”

Thoughtful designers spend hours fussing over the way materials come together.  Manufacturers of countertop materials – common and dear – offer dozens of edge profile options. An awkward corner is the first clue that a house is cheaply made. Oddly named elements like quoinbullnose and quirk miter are tools of the trade.

Outside the building, sidewalk curbs serve as both traffic warnings and tripping hazards.  Those bumpy yellow ramps save lives.

At a larger scale, people usually choose to sit at the edges.  They find comfort and activity at the “outer square” of a public space. It’s a concept that Project for Public Spaces illustrated in a short video about Alamo Plaza in San Antonio.

Active edges (sidewalk cafes, museums, shops) feed into the center; in turn, a lively scene at the heart of a square creates a buzz that draws more people to the area, generating more activity for edge uses. It’s symbiotic!   [Despite being] home to one of the most iconic buildings in America, the plaza itself is more of a place to stand for a photo op than a place where people linger and enjoy.

At church, the intersection of campus and community, member and visitor, truth and skepticism has the same power as quirk miters, curbs and courtyards.  Good edges can make good impressions that transform perception.

Image by gabetarian via