Contextualism in relation to architecture cannot be understood without first understanding the meaning of context and its importance. Context can be described as the combination of one phenomenon, circumstance, fact, event with others for the creation of a whole; and as a result, context is the term that denotes the generation of items through the combination of all events/circumstances. The term context can be also defined as the background, environment, framework, setting, or situation encircling an act or a circumstance, this is the definition in which we are more concerned with when speaking about contextual architecture.
The circumstance in the definition represents a particular building and the background, environment, and setting represents the surroundings of that particular building. In contextual architecture we are concerned with the many relationships a building forms with its surroundings and this is where context plays a very important role in the field of architecture. The context of a building is often taken into consideration when analyzing a building to understand if the building relates to its surroundings. In doing so you find that the relationship between architecture and context has two basic viewpoints. While sometimes there is a rejection of the context or environment within which a building is placed, other times there is an engagement of the surroundings and building to try and achieve amalgamation by highlighting characteristics of the surroundings. Although I feel that there is a third option that is a combination of these two viewpoints, I believe that a building can have elements that reflect its surroundings and embraces it and other elements that reject the context of its surroundings.
In most cases contextual approaches focus primarily on the formal visual relations with the nearby environment thus, aesthetic values are of most importance when evaluating contextualism. Although, it is as important to establish how, and from which angle the building is reminiscent of the surroundings. How a building establishes unity and harmony with the surroundings is also crucial in the evaluating process. Contextual design approaches can also be seen as attitudes that usually
replicate the styles and architectural form in the existing surroundings. Therefore, designing with considering the context and setting rather than non-contextual gains more significance. It is clear that the role of context in architecture is still crucial after taking a look at the last fifteen years of intense construction in New York City and one such example is evaluating how the High School for Construction Trade Engineering and Architecture sits within its context.