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MODERN ARCHITECTURE

PARTIAL ELEVATION OF THE CRYSTAL PALACE The Crystal Palace, built for the Great Exposition of 1851 in London (the first world’s fair), would certainly be on anyone’s list of “The Most Important Monuments of Modern Architecture.” Although designed by a gardener, Joseph Paxton, not an architect, few public buildings have been so popular or influential. It was built almost entirely of standardized, factory-produced parts of iron and glass. The Crystal Palace entranced a public accustomed to heavy buildings of stone and brick and showed the possibilities, aesthetic as well as practical, of building with prefabricated parts, metal, and glass.

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THE MODERN AGE
THE AGE OF REVOLUTIONS By the end of Louis XIV’s 72-year reign, Paris and Versailles had replaced Rome and Florence as the centers of taste, culture, and intellectual matters. French art, music, dance, and architecture were widely imitated. The King may have had centralized control over the government during his reign, but intellectual activities during the Age of Reason began to take on a life independent from the government, a life that would eventually take down the monarchy and create the basis of the modern world. Age of Reason philosophies led to major scientific discoveries. Sir Isaac Newton’s formulations of the Laws of Universal Gravitation and The Calculus, appeared to confirm the speculations of philosophers that humans could understand the laws that governed the universe with intellect rather than accept them on faith. If so, argued such great Enlightenment philosophers as Benjamin Franklin, reason should rule, and reasonable men should shape government rather than kings who had inherited their power. These philosophies lay behind the American “War of Independence” in 1776, and a series of political revolutions in other countries, beginning with The French Revolution of 1789. The liberal, rationalist, scientific, and humanitarian artists and philosophers of this age of revolutions rejected the sometimes frivolous, usually sensuous and light-hearted, Rococo style of art and architecture that was popular. Enlightened patrons demanded a morally serious art and architecture, an art that would teach values and reflect intellectual and scientific discoveries. Few architects managed to bridge the gap between Enlightenment intellectualism and the emotional appeal of the Baroque. One was the Italian Guarini. A leading mathematician, he used forms and the principles of the new mathematics (especially descriptive geometry) to create mystical drama and diaphanous domes in such buildings as Santissima Sindone (Church of the Holy Shroud) and San Lorenzo in Turin. More characteristic of the new style that was emerging out of the Enlightenment are paintings such as J. L. David’s “The Oath of the Horatii.” It is relentlessly austere in form and composition and morally uplifting in its Stoic republican message. Even more rigorous in form and composition than David’s painting is the monument to the intellectual hero of the

San Lorenzo view into dome

San Lorenzo plan

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Newton Cenotaph

Enlightenment, Sir Isaac Newton. Designed by Boullée, the Newton Cenotaph was a pure product of the intellect. It could never have been built. Boullée intended the great sphere to symbolize the universe, whose laws Newton had discovered. The surface of the sphere was to have been pierced by holes arranged like the constellations. Sunlight coming through these holes would have given, during the day at least, the effect of a planetarium, more than a century before one was invented. In plan, the project is a series of concentric circles, a schematic of the solar system. In volume, every form and detail, even the un-climbable stairs leading to a ring of cypresses (an ancient symbol for eternity), derived from this circular geometry. Compared to Baroque architects, Boullée and his compatriots had returned to the classicism of Bramante’s Tempietto, thus the new style is sometimes referred to as Neoclassicism. The contrasts between Rococo confection and Neoclassical Puritanism parallel the political tensions between the supernumerary, pleasure-loving aristocracy and the intellectual community, tensions that were released explosively in the severing of aristocrats’ heads from their bodies during the French Revolution of 1789. THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION In England, the Age of Reason led to an industrial rather than a political revolution. Why the Industrial Revolution did not begin earlier is difficult to explain. Virtually all of the necessary technology and theory had been around since Hellenistic times. In any case, several interrelated phenomena lay behind the Industrial Revolution: a “green revolution” that provided more food to support a massive increase in population; a modern banking system; the development of the steam engine (and eventually the railroad); the exploitation of coal as a source of cheap energy for the steam engines; and the production of iron in large quantities (which in turn required the cheap energy of coal). These things made possible the factory system and the transportation network, chiefly canals but also roads and railroads, necessary for distributing raw materials and finished goods. These innovations in England, which revolutionized finance, culture, art, and nearly every other aspect of society, changed the world as much asor perhaps more thanthe political revolutions. The effects of the Industrial Revolution on architecture were immediate and profound. With industrialization came urban-

were introduced. Foremost of these was the suspension system. The Ironbridge at Coalbrookdale. the new materials were introduced in utilitarian structures such as factories and bridges. Suspension bridges depend on the tensile strength of wrought iron and eventually steel (see discussion of tensile structures. As everlarger spans were attempted. The architect had worked hard since the Middle Ages to make architecture a profession: hearchitects were male until the 20th centuryconsidered industry “beneath” his high social position. however. it became obvious to a larger and larger group of architects that industrialization was unavoidable and would be the source of the big commissions in the future. in most of their buildings. in The Practice of Architecture section). Numerous projects for bridges in iron appeared in the following years. At first. and there was no historical precedent for the new building types. aluminum. steel. built in 1777-79 by Abraham Darby II. the first all-iron structure. department stores. By the turn of the 20th century. Initially. no advance over contemporary stone or wood construction. and it used standard wood construction techniques. reinforced concrete. But. Historical precedent had become extremely important for him. and even industrial forms. This first iron structure had only a 100-foot span. demonstrated the potentials of the iron from Darby’s nearby mills. As the 19th century wore on. architects were beginning to include industrial materials. both cast and wrought. which showed the spirit of competition that characterized the Industrial Age. railroad stations. hospitals. though frequently they hid them behind traditional-appearing surfaces. techniques that took better advantage of the inherent characteristics of iron. and so on. warehouses. office buildings. Cast Iron Bridge at Coalbrookdale . With industrialization came new building materials and technologies for the architect: iron. in contrast to traditional stone or wooden bridges. one of the first to produce iron on a large scale. and glass in large sizes and quantities. With industrialization also came the pumps and motors that made very tall and very large buildings possible.m o d e r n a r c h i t e c t u r e 129 ization (still a phenomenon today) and all of the new types of buildings and structures associated with a big industrial city: factories. it appeared light and airy to contemporaries and excited many of them who better realized the possibilities of building with iron. the professional architect resisted both using the new materials and designing buildings for industry.

With the suspension bridge. and the ability to see through the wall. In a suspension bridge. for example. decoration having no obvious utilitarian function. England. By 1867. The related idea that architectural form should be dictated by the nature of the building problem itself had been suggested by several Enlightenment theoreticians but only began to be put into practice during the Industrial Revolution. it is more than a mile (6. near Bristol. they must follow the laws of nature (catenary curves). the curves of the suspension cables or chains are not arbitrary choices by a designer. Within 50 years of the Ironbridge. is brittle and has great compressive but little tensile strength. the old relationship between carrier and carried is negated by the soap-bubble surface of glass. the Clifton Suspension Bridge. it is determined by mathematics and the nature of the materials from which the structure is made. the first major bridge to use steel cables. and transparent nature of the glass. introduced new and intriguing forms and architectural effects. but they also permit incredible spans. Larger spans are planned or are under construction.595 feet. had spanned 900 feet between supports. The record distance spanned between two towers is on the Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge in Japan. which captivated viewers by their novelty and. and at least some architects began to propose that a functional form could be beautiful without being decorated. by contrast. had reached 1. These buildings tended to be solidly constructed but completely undecorated. form does not follow some abstract theory of design. In addition to the efficient use of materials. deep beams or trusses. especially in buildings such as warehouses and factories that were built for purely utilitarian purposes. In the Palm Stove at Kew Gardens (just outside London). such as greenhouses. opened in 1998. translucent. redefined the traditional concepts of beauty and structure. .” to use a phrase that the 20th century American architect Buckminster Fuller made famous. in some respects. Vitruvius’s criteria of Firmness and Commodity were satisfied.130 m o d e r n a r c h i t e c t u r e iron. Palm Stove at Kew Gardens Other “functional” buildings.529 feet). fascinated the public and architects alike. the spans of the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City. but was Delight? Many of these utilitarian buildings did have a sort of raw beauty to them. Its weightless appearance and the alternately reflective. the roadway is suspended from cables or chains hung from the tops of towers rather than supported by heavy. Tensile structures not only deliver “more performance per pound.

among others). the exotic. Ancient Greece also appealed. an immense evocation of a Gothic monastery where the eccentric Englishman William Beckford could have parties.” Romantic literature described the mythical. Though roundly criticized by contemporary architects (“The Crystal Humbug. the first world’s fair. James Wyatt. Paxton. One reaction was Romanticism. however. industrial cities with horrible slums and despicable sanitation. The glass and iron structure was planned and erected in a mere 39 weeks. Read Charles Dickens’s novels.m o d e r n a r c h i t e c t u r e 131 Greenhouse construction inspired a variety of buildings. decreasing life expectancy. the side effects of industrialization (destruction of the agrarian economy) had disturbed many: the creation of huge. The hotels and entries in front of the train sheds often were conceived as quite traditional buildings. ROMANTICISM From its very beginnings. had planned a number of greenhouses as a gardener for the Duke of Devonshire for which he invented a system of machine-made. among which were the sheds of vast extent built to cover the platforms of the new railroad stations. Brighton Pavilion . John Nash built the Brighton Pavilion. the “escape to the distant in time or space. dirty. a fantastic concoction of architectural motifs from India and Arabia. He used the same techniques to build the immense (1.851 feet long) exhibition building. Phillip Johnson’s Crystal Cathedral (1980) in California. for example. a romantic copy of a Greek temple. Leo von Klenze built Valhalla. Even more spectacular and influential than the train sheds was the Crystal Palace. ugly.” Pugin called it). for the Prince Regent. Paxton had not only introduced the all-glass building. There were many architectural manifestations. on the hills near Regensburg. and illustrate the separation between architect and engineer that was developing. the building housing London’s Great Exposition of 1851. built Fonthill Abbey. and increasing crime rates. and the medieval (Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe. for example. Germany. he had also virtually invented the assembly-line technique of using prefabricated (factory-made parts) to do it. standardized parts. the Crystal Palace was a popular success and has influenced architects to the present. Its designer.

destroying their pride and individuality in the process. He went farther. Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin published an effective assault on the evils of industrialism in a series of satirical drawings. whereas the modern cities were ugly and polluted. was that industrialization had destroyed society. Greek temples. materials and designs should be "fit for their purpose. and the people were illustrated as starving and miserable. that the sheer mindlessness of the assembly line and division of labor in factories intrinsically reduced men (and women and children) to machines. expanded by John Ruskin (the most famous art critic of the Victorian Age). as Modern architects phrased this approach: form should follow function. pointed to brick buildings that were covered in plaster that was scored and painted to make it look like stone and to cast-iron columns and cornices that lookedsort ofas if they had been carved by hand out of stone. but also society as a whole. decorations for flat surfaces. But the attention that Romantic literature and architecture gave to the Middle Ages led another group of artists and writers to attack the Industrial Revolution in a different way. he argued that the dishonesty and mindlessness of industrial production corrupted not only the worker. as was (and still is) commonly done.” that gave the illusion of depth.132 m o d e r n a r c h i t e c t u r e THE ARTS AND CRAFTS MOVEMENT Only aristocrats and the newly rich industrialists who were causing the social problems could afford Romantic escapes from the ugly side of the Industrial Revolution into an architectural fantasy world of Gothic castles. Morris felt that designs for flat surfaces should have flat patterns. which showed the same town as it had been during the Middle Ages and as it had become. He argued that to recover artistic integrity. and Morris’s most influential conclusions was that buildings." Or. In sum. especially houses. (What would Ruskin and Morris think of wood-grained plastic?) They also condemned rug and wallpaper patterns. As examples of dishonesty in architecture. One of Pugin. should be developed from a functional plan rather than having functions crammed into a preconceived outer form. craftsmen should return to the medieval handicraft practices. His point. that looked “three-dimensional. Ruskin. . The medieval cities were beautiful and the people were shown as happy and healthy. and Palladian villas. especially the great artist and craftsman William Morris. Ruskin and his followers.

he never could reconcile this declaration with the fact that the handcrafting process he advocated was prohibitively expensive. However. Their precept that art and architecture were not only an expression of the moral values of a society but also could actually shape those values was one of the most potent artistic theories introduced in the 19th century. Indeed Morris was an avid and active supporter of the socialist movement for a while. “from the inside out.m o d e r n a r c h i t e c t u r e 133 Ruskin and Morris’s conclusions that artists and architects should return to medieval handcrafts were unrealistic and influenced few peopleonly the wealthy could afford Morris’s handmade products. the Red House at Bexleyheath (near London). they shape us.) Ruskin. The Red House also marked the beginning of architects’ interest in the design of the upper-middle-class house and eventually in low-cost housing. architects had designed housingvillas. Its plain red brick construction and an exterior form that corresponded exactly to the functional plan demonstrated his principles of “honesty” in design. and that consequently. Red House ground floor upper floor Red House plans . and architects at the same time that Karl Marx was writing the Communist Manifesto. He declared that “there shouldn’t be art for the few any more than freedom for the few. palaces. Europe.” and proposed an art for the masses. quoted at the beginning of this book. Morris. were widely influential. and the United States. craftspeople. he was wealthy enough to put his theories into practice in his own house.” Aspects of the Red House were emulated by many architects in England. only the rich bourgeoisie could afford his creations. particularly the concepts of “fitness for purpose” and of developing a building from a functional plan. Soon the production of household machines (which could not be simultaneously mass-produced and handcrafted) made the return to a medieval culture seem even ridiculous. The furnishings of the house were all designed and fabricated by Morris and his friends and were paragons of the Arts and Crafts ideal of “fitness for purpose. (See Churchill’s observations that once we shape our buildings.” as Frank Lloyd Wright liked to say. But the other conclusions of the Arts and Crafts Movement. Morris was also one of the founders of the historic preservation movement. Before this. Unfortunately for him. and their followers were discussing the social responsibilities of artists. and manorsonly for the aristocracy and the very rich. It was obvious to most people that industrialization was inevitable. as Ruskin and Morris’s followers called their approach.

then architecture. however. the demands for a new style were buttressed by scientific developments.” In practice. and the other modern materials and techniques. as a reflection of society. some engineering details. independent of the past. following upon the evolutionists. Architectural theorists. which he published in his 1859 Origin of the Species. no critic or architect could propose a satisfactory new style for the “modern age. argued that if plants and animals had evolved. . whether in detail or wholesale. They argued that the past had never had to design most of the types of buildings that existed in the present and that past forms were therefore inappropriate. This mixture of details from various periods is called Eclecticism and was. these are the extreme approaches. should also evolve. structure. Nonetheless. AND ARCHITECTURE Romanticism (escape from the Industrial Age) and the Arts and Crafts Movement (opposition to it) represent only two of the several directions architecture took in the 19th century. glass. it showed that the “modern” architect was aware of all the past styles and engineering advances and was sophisticated enough to choose the most appropriate details. EVOLUTION. in fact. the dominant mode of architectural design in the 19th century. should be developed for the industrial age. Historicism (replication of past styles) and engineers (embracing of industrialization) represent two more directions. notably Darwin’s theory of evolution. They argued that the styles of the past had been developed without the advantage of iron. After all.134 m o d e r n a r c h i t e c t u r e ECLECTICISM. It was considered “modern” by most. most of the architecture built lay somewhere between or among them. “Gothic” windows in facades that looked Byzantine or Romanesque but used iron and glass construction for skylights and attached greenhouses. As you may well imagine. and some handcrafted decorations or furnishings. Some architects were not content merely to copy the architecture of the past. Most architecture used some details of buildings from the past. The “New Architecture” should not look like the historical styles and should be superior to them. They argued that a totally new architectural expression. architects tended to design in one sort of eclectic style or another. Until the end of the 19th century. for example. and techniques for the task at hand. Most buildings were a mixture of styles combining.

argued for a RATIONALIST “New Architecture.m o d e r n a r c h i t e c t u r e 135 Viollet-le-Duc. on the whole. At the . not evolved during the history of man. Viollet concluded. Thus. and took forms that expressed iron’s strength. society. regardless of period. He pointed out that he. climate. had responded to site. too. Therefore. while not necessarily arguing against the theories of evolution as they applied to organic life. a French medieval scholar. one in which each detail was the evident and logical result of an analysis of the building program. On the basis of this reasoning Viollet. that would require a younger architect. ART NOUVEAU Viollet’s theories managed to transcend the questions that had divided architecture into so many different stylistic streams by concluding that “style” would inevitably result from analysis of the architectural program if the architect had no preconceptions. better buildings than virtually anything built in modern times.” one that respected the principles of history without copying details. was the clear reason for being of every element in them. like most of his contemporaries. and the highest level of technology available to their architects. the New Architecture would be architecture of iron construction (neither reinforced concrete nor steel construction had been developed when he wrote) that was openly expressed. demonstrably. he concluded that the analogy between architecture and evolution was neither valid nor reasonable: architecture had. Viollet realized that he had studied and restored too many medieval buildings to be able to find the appropriate new forms for iron construction. but he was opposed to copying historic details. like the Parthenon or Chartres Cathedral. He said that architectural forms should be determined by their functionsanother architect who thought that “form follows function”without preconception or prejudice on the part of the architect. restoration architect. The greatest buildings of the past. Viollet’s theories respected and took into account the principles of the great architecture of the past. offered a counter-argument in his Lectures on Architecture (Entretiens sur I’ Architecture). believed that the Parthenon had never been excelled as a piece of architecture and that the Gothic cathedrals were. and probably the most influential architectural theorist of the 19th century. It was obvious to Viollet that a modern architect would use the latest engineering methods and the most recently developed building materials to achieve this end. one with a fresher point of view. What was common to great monuments of the past.

the Tassel House decorations immediately became popular even among those who ignored the house’s structural and spatial innovations. the open plan became common. mosaics on the floor. vegetal decorations at the tops of the iron columns. became merely a new and fashionable decorative vocabulary applied to otherwise traditional buildings. he reconciled engineering advances with traditional views on architecture. Most of the recognized masters of Modern architecture. Art Nouveau (“New Art”). rather than historical examples. His planning innovations revolutionized domestic architecture. It was mostly an outgrowth of European de- Tassel House . As more middle-class people built houses. such as Frank Lloyd Wright in the US. Horta radically reorganized the townhouse and opened the interior by using an exposed iron skeleton. Horta’s ornament still seemed somehow tied to the past to some architects. based their theories in greater or lesser degree on Viollet’s. whiplash. As a contemporary critic (Ludwig Hevesi) remarked. and stained glass in windows and doors. who first put Viollet’s theories into practice. Horta created decoration for the house derived from the plants in the conservatory (greenhouse). Art Nouveauthat he originated swept Europe for a short while. But it was a young Belgian architect. as the new style was known. “No detail derives from anything at all in existence. It also made it seem larger than it was. both in concept and in attitude towards decoration appeared in Vienna and Paris in the years just before the outbreak of World War I. non-bearing glass doors. An architecture that was entirely new. sky-lit conservatory-stairhall. and Le Corbusier in France. In the hands of many architects and decorators. It allowed him to create the “open plan” (plan libre) by eliminating most of the interior partitions and replacing others with movable. and the style of architectureor rather the style of decoration. which was built on a very narrow deep city lot. flexible. In the Tassel House in Brussels in the late 19th century. and allowed natural light and ventilation to penetrate into the center of the house through a large.” Horta translated the plant forms into curvilinear. Similar to details in Viollet-le-Duc’s work and some wallpaper patterns. Victor Horta. which were in turn reflected in paintings on walls and ceilings.136 m o d e r n a r c h i t e c t u r e same time. and clients gradually rejected the dark Victorian house cut up into discrete rooms. Even though it was not copied from historical examples. This made the house. Gaudi in Spain.

by contrast. He was a genuine Renaissance man. and politician. THE UNITED STATES COLONIAL ARCHITECTURE When Europeans arrived in the new world. then. craftsmen (such as carpenters or masons). they found cultures and architecture that bore little resemblance to those they had left. Not surprisingly. In North America.” Beginning in the early 19th century. They unconsciously created a recognizable and unique body of architecture quite different from the European prototypes: a church designed to be built of stone looks quite different when built from wood by local craftsmen and workers. Mayan. therefore. From time to time European architects were asked to send designs to the Colonies for important buildings. designed most structures. is referred to as “vernacular. in this case. to be destroyed.m o d e r n a r c h i t e c t u r e 137 velopments. In the absence of trained architects. a few Americans. There were no trained architects among the colonists at first. traditions in Europe. chiefly through Palladio’s Four Books on Architecture and engravings of buildings Monticello . until the latter half of the 19th century (there weren’t even schools of architecture until the 1860s) architecture in the United States largely paralleled developments in Europe. Thomas Jefferson was instrumental in trying to find a style of architecture less dependent on European traditions and more expressive of the ideals of the new republic. a talented architect as well as a great writer. like Thomas Jefferson. The colonists considered the indigenous peoples “culturally inferior” and their architecture either something to be ignored or. the Europeans found relatively little permanent architecture or architecture they were interested in. but it was also inspired in important ways by developments in the United States. philosopher. Architecture that is not designed by architects and is based on the traditions of its people. modeled their buildings on familiar European models. His early training had been informal. in the case of the Aztec. mostly because the population was too dispersed to support or need them. Early European settlers. who frequently based their designs on illustrated books of the latest European buildings. had studied architecture in Europe. and Incan architecture of Central and South America. inventor.

was planned on a monumental scale that did not correspond to the actual size of the new country but demonstrated the optimism and vision of the founders. Washington. From these features. C. It was returned to only early in the 20th century. as well as several houses that continued to be inspired by Palladio’s villas. on the other hand. M. I. to be constructed on a site chosen by George Washington.138 m o d e r n a r c h i t e c t u r e by English architects. and in collaboration with other architects. proposed a city plan that was an adaptation of Le Notre’s gardens at Versailles where L’Enfant had grown up.C. he designed some of the finest buildings in the United States. Pierre L’Enfant. In its original form. He located the Capitol and President’s House (later called the White House) on the most prominent hills. Jefferson.. Jefferson was particularly impressed by the Enlightenment buildings he’d seen and architects he’d met. When he returned to this country. wanted the plan of the new Capital to be a Cartesian grid. and Jefferson’s plan was often ignored in the 19th century. Washington and a French engineer. These are the Capitol at Richmond. Jefferson based his design for the capitol of Virginia very closely on the Maison Carrée at Nîmes (which he believed to be a Republican Temple). Jefferson’s own house. the University of Virginia. C. Virginia. he admired Republican Roman architecture and thought it should be the model for monumental civic American buildings. Pei’s East Wing addition to the National Gallery and HOK’s Air and Space Museum are examples of contemporary buildings whose forms and locations were inspired by L’Enfant’s original plan. In fact. He utterly transformed it after receiving architectural training during the years he was the American ambassador to France. on sites corresponding respectively to those of the palace and the Grand Trianon at Versailles. plan National Gallery East Wing . Like many contemporary French architects. WASHINGTON. It grew very slowly. Washington D. though on sites originally proposed for embassies. and L’Enfant. D. Monticello. was based on Palladio’s Villa Cornaro. Jefferson also profoundly influenced the planning of the new capital of the United States. L’Enfant and Washington proposed axes and radiating street patterns that would define the location of other major public buildings. The final plan was a compromise between Jefferson and L’Enfant’s ideas. Washington. Foreign embassies were to line a mall directly analogous to the main axis of the garden at Versailles. relying on what he had seen and learned abroad. D.

His simple. this style was supplemented by the eclectic approach popular at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris (the most influential school of architecture in the 19th century). As the century wore on. National Gallery East Wing roof plan Balloon-frame .m o d e r n a r c h i t e c t u r e 139 The first two public buildings for the new city were designed through competitions. and building sites were much larger than in the cities. replete with classical Orders and other motifs from ancient Greece and Rome and from the Renaissance. For religious buildings. however. Most significant were the additions by Bulfinch early in the 19th century. Thornton. an amateur architect. won the competition for the President’s House.) Another amateur. but in the rapidly expanding frontier towns. Walter. (His anonymous competition entry. In the established Eastern cities. but Jefferson criticized it as too ostentatious. The invention of the balloon-frame construction technique. His project incorporated references to the Pantheon for the central part of the building and to several “modern” French and English buildings for the Senate and House of Representative extensions to each side. the more pretentious upper class houses resembled their European counterparts. (Both of these men were professionally trained architects. based on the Villa Rotonda had been rejected. James Hoban. brick and stone were often in short supply whereas wood was plentiful. The frontier builders were usually less learned and concerned with European trends and precedents than their urban colleagues and more willing to solve problems on their own merit. did establish an “official” American style. Thornton’s original design has been drastically modified over the years to accommodate the vast expansion of the country from the original 13 states. and the enormous extensions (including the present cast-iron dome) that were made during the Civil War by Thomas U. It was emulated in capitol and courthouse buildings across the United States.) AMERICAN INNOVATIONS The Neo-Classical architecture of the Capitol and White House. architects often turned to the revival of medieval architecture then fashionable in Britain and on the Continent. a physician. designed the Capitol. Dr. American domestic architecture showed more originality than government buildings and churches. unique problems evolved a more purely American architecture: a house needed to be built quickly. handsome scheme strongly resembled contemporary European Neo-Classical buildings.

As take-off points. seem to belong to their sites. and such American philosophers as Emerson. Stick Style Robie House . which unfortunately has been demolished. standardized pieces of factory-sawn wood addressed most of these problems and suggested new forms and decorations. the Larkin Building in Buffalo." as it was sometimes called. Wright made his Prairie Houses. Influenced by his teacher Louis Sullivan. its structure is much less critical. Interior and exterior flow into one another in a Wright house just as one room flows into the next. windows and doors could be enlarged or grouped together. pioneered advanced systems of ventilations in addition to seeming to be without historical precedent. New York. and churches. Wright removed as many of the interior partitions as possible so that rooms flow from one into another. In Unity Temple. the first time anyone had used it in a building that was internationally recognized as a major architectural accomplishment. Often the only distinction between one major area and another was a difference in floor or ceiling height or both. These variations depended upon the fact that balloon-frame construction is much more adaptable (and cheaper) than masonry construction and much easier for untrained workers to construct. These Prairie houses expressed the flat farmland around Chicago with low. Like Horta in the Tassel House. houses became gingerbread castles"carpenter gothic. a suburb of Chicago. In the extreme cases. One consequently finds variations of the same basic design all over the Midwest. most significant among them Unity Temple in Oak Park. Wright used strips of windows on the exterior of his buildings and banks of floor-to-ceiling glass doors that opened onto porches and patios under the hovering roofs. The Larkin Building. carpenters used houses from “pattern books” developed by designers (such as Downing). the writings of Viollet-le-Duc. towers and gables could easily be added. elaborated or simplified according to wealth and the skill and imagination of the carpenter-builder. spreading roofs anchored to the ground by a central hearth and chimney. rooms made larger or smaller. horizontal lines and shallow.140 m o d e r n a r c h i t e c t u r e a system using small. for example the Robie House (1909). Consequently the plan of a house could be modified at will. Wright used reinforced concrete. Wright also designed brilliantly innovative office buildings. for example.

Wright’s ideas proved crucial to the development of architecture on the Continent. beginning with the Wainwright Building in St. and in America. the very tall building. with its many floors of identical offices. This change of the appearance of the different parts of the building illustrated Wainwright Building . Louis Sullivan. They looked like stacks of lower buildings. that could reach great heights. aided by Wright. a safe elevator. Sullivan expressed the columns of steel that held them up with uninterrupted vertical lines. But if an iron. for structural reasons. and he clearly differentiated the base. and he gave the mechanical penthouse on the top floor its own unique appearance. steel. He said he got the idea from the writings of Violletle-Duc. Louis. simplified and modified by contractors everywhere. the architect Fay Jones. with columns no larger at their base than they are on the top floor. American architecture’s other great innovation that altered the direction of world architecture.” Wright meant for the analogy to living things to be taken poetically.m o d e r n a r c h i t e c t u r e 141 Wright called his architecture “ORGANIC ARCHITECTURE. In 1889. It and many of the early skyscrapers did not look tall. however. ground-floor walls become increasingly thicker as the building gets higher.” a concept that even he had a difficult time explaining clearly. a building may become very tall. The height of masonry buildings with load-bearing walls is limited since. with its show windows. The same analogy to a tree holds: each part flows into the next much in the way that the trunk of a tree flows into a branch. Three inventions were required to make the skyscraper possible: the steel skeleton (“skyscraper construction”). it developed into the “split-level” and “ranch house” designs of today’s suburbs. As one of Wright’s many admirers. They take up much of the groundfloor area in a really tall building. and mechanical systems. Peter’s. The way in which spaces in Wright’s buildings are shaped. He meant that every aspect of a building relates to the next larger in a way analogous to Gothic architecture or Michelangelo’s design for St. from the main part of the building. by vertical planes seemed radically new to American and European architects alike. or reinforced-concrete skeleton is substituted for the masonry. put it succinctly: “Part is to part as part is to whole. and the twig into a leaf. particularly plumbing. William LeBaron Jenney built the first tall building with a metallic frame in Chicago in 1886 (the Home Insurance Company). In them. the branch into a twig. or skyscraper. not contained. designed tall buildings that did look tall. was also largely a contribution of Chicago.

” explored these and similar new ideas in many buildings. the so-called “Chicago School. The impersonal. Braque and Picasso were revolutionizing painting. At about the same time in Paris. THE INTERNATIONAL STYLE THE FIRST GENERATION At the time the Chicago School was flowering. steel. hard-edged shapes in the Cubist paintings also appealed to contemporary critics.” a concept that contemporary scientists and mathematicians were investigating. following the lead of Cezanne (a brilliant late 19th century French painter). and like Wright. rejecting perspective. some critics saw in the paintings the representation of a “4th dimension.142 m o d e r n a r c h i t e c t u r e Sullivan’s famous dictum that “Form follows Function. reduced these to planes. This article was widely read by young architects who saw it as a way to answer the critics of Art Nouveau.” Sullivan and his colleagues in Chicago. they looked machine-made. The Steiner House . They looked modern. a writer and architect named Adolf Loos. influenced not only other architects in the United States. but there is no evidence the painters were aware of his theories. They rejected realistic. and aluminum in buildings that appear strikingly modern. 20th century architecture. He concluded that the progress of a society could be measured by the degree to which it has eliminated decoration. The result was called Cubism. they analyzed nature into its most characteristic shapes. In 1908. Another Viennese. but also those in Europe. In addition to a style comparable to Art Nouveau called Secession. the center of AVANT-GARDE architecture in Europe was Vienna (the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris was relatively conservative by comparison). he published an article titled “Ornament and Crime” in which he equated ornamentation with decadence and depravity. and rearranged these planes onto their canvases. thought architects of his time (including Wagner) were too preoccupied with decoration to produce a really modern. objective. after his return from a trip to Chicago. Otto Wagner and his students were experimenting with glass. Since Cubists frequently superimposed several different views of the same object on their canvases. illusionistic paintingphotography could better record realityand. Einstein was working out his theories of Relativity at roughly the same time Braque and Picasso created Cubism.

that the factory should become an ideal prototype for Machine-age architects. at least poetically. As important as the Bauhaus building itself was. industrial. have no decoration (as Loos had already said). They were fascinated with the Machine Age. Sant’Elia was killed in World War I before he could build any of his designs. In effect. even the columns are behind the glass walls. The brilliant young architect Sant’Elia wrote a manifesto of Futurist architecture in which he asserted that to be really modern. the curriculum that Gropius designed for the school it housed was probably even more influential. which still look like cities of the future from science-fiction magazines and movies. Gradually the emphasis shifted from pure handcrafts to products that could be mass-produced by industry. an office building (the Faguswerk) in 1911 and a school of architecture (the Bauhaus) in 1925. In both buildings.m o d e r n a r c h i t e c t u r e 143 The Italian Futurists were among those influenced by the revolutionary new art. materials and technologies (no natural materials like wood. it was assumed that the basic design principles taught in the school were sufficient training for an architect. and 4. With some modifications. they were obsessed with speed and change and spoke eloquently of the motor car and electric power stations. Gropius patterned the curriculum on the writings of Ruskin and the practices of Morris. It was natural. in the Bauhaus. The architecture of the future should: 1. Strictly speaking. use only new. These buildings introduced the glass box so characteristic of 20th century architecture. the traditional idea of “carrier and carried” has been negated: the exterior wall no longer holds up the building in appearance or in reality. use dynamic forms and shapes which derived from or resembled machines. architecture should reject everything of the past. then. no courses in architecture were taught at the school. make no reference to history or historical styles. the basic design courses at many schools of ar- Airship Hangar Faguswerk . 3. The German architect Walter Gropius designed the most famous of these Early Modern buildings inspired by factories. Each student was required to learn one or more handicrafts from a combination of an artisan and an artist. modern science and technology. 2. stone and brick). sheer glass walls pass in front of the floor slabs. The variable reflectivity/transparency of the glass walls superimposed views into the buildings with reflections of the outside in a fashion directly recalling Cubist painting.

) Almost universally considered a masterpiece. Spain. and the space implied by the planes becomes as real and important as the solid elements. It was disassembled after the end of the fair.144 m o d e r n a r c h i t e c t u r e chitecture throughout the world are based on those of the Bauhaus. They were inspired by Cubism. it was reconstructed in Barcelona in 1983-86. It is no longer tied to the idea of a specific site. De Stijl artists and architects wished to produce a “universal art. designed by the faculty and students of the Bauhaus are still sold in stores all over the world. but it inexplicably disappeared during its transport back to Germany.” It adapts to the changing needs of the inhabitant.” they thought of space as a grid extending infinitely in all directions and considered paintings and buildings to be just parts of that grid. De Stijl (Dutch for “The Style”) was the name of a group of artists and architects in Amsterdam that included the painter Mondrian and the architect. The Schroeder House Barcelona Pavilion . In plan. designed for the 1929 World’s Fair in Barcelona. by Frank Lloyd Wright’s buildings. Many of the furnishings. making it even more “universal. Mies’ projects for all-glass skyscrapers were among the most influential architectural designs of the 1920s. No one has ever fully and convincingly explained why Gropius. but the impact of the Dutch de Stijl group on Gropius and his students was one factor. its floating horizontal and vertical planes remind one of a Frank Lloyd Wright Prairie House. turned from Ruskin and Morris’s total rejection of industrial manufacture to an emphasis on mass-production in his school. and by other avant-garde theories. Mies van der Rohe was influenced by Wright and the de Stijl group. his Barcelona Pavilion. Mies manipulated plane and space in this building in such a way that distinctions between “interior” and “exterior” seems entirely arbitrary. proportions. nor are all of the walls permanently fixed. and details of this building were so elegant and carefully considered that many consider it a masterpiece on a par with the Parthenon. looks like a de Stijl painting. Like Gropius. especially furniture and fabrics. At least some of them can be slid or folded to change the interior of the house at will. Rietveld’s Schroeder House in Utrecht was conceived as a series of vertical and horizontal planes floating in the universal grid. Rietveld. though he retained their ideas that architecture could shape society. The materials. (It was made of rather expensive marbles that probably ended up in the villa of some Nazi official.

using the systems of the Renaissance that Bramante himself might have approved. Some people have criticized this approach by saying that at IlT it’s hard to know which building is the architecture building. was forced into exile. the Seagrams Building in New York City. too. Indeed. that Mies had projected. born Charles-Edouard Jeanneret) in Switzerland. De Stijl influence is evident in his attempts to create simple. Loos. and Merrill. Perret was especially important. By this time. he had spent weeks on the Acropolis in Athens and had studied Greek. A painter as well as an architect. and Mediterranean vernacular architecture. in following his famous dictum “Less is more.m o d e r n a r c h i t e c t u r e 145 aesthetic effect of these buildings depends on the play of light and reflection on their sheer glass facades and irregular or curvilinear plans. universal buildings on a universal grid. He had also assimilated the ideas of Ruskin. SOM (Skidmore. but the idea of an all-glass skyscraper is the same. As a young man. The Depression and World War II prevented Mies or anyone else from constructing them. and which the power plant. Mies designed some of the most elegant buildings in history. which the chapel. Mies had moved to Chicago. Its bronze and glass curtain wall is so beautifully proportioned. an architectural firm based in Chicago) designed Lever House in New York (1951). similar to contemporary German Expressionist paintings. Viollet-le-Duc. It was a rectangular box.” as many refer to him. among many others. Owings. designed most of his structures for this new material. He had pioneered the use of reinforced concrete (concrete with steel bars that resist tension). the Cubists.” Mies was forced to sacrifice the naturally complicated functions of a building to simplicity. Mies was made head of the school of architecture at Illinois Institute of Technology and was commissioned to design a master plan for the campus as well as several of its most important buildings. Lever House Seagram Tower . Mies himself designed the most elegant of the glass-box skyscraper. and Auguste Perret. and Mies van der Rohe) was Le Corbusier. Soon after he arrived in Chicago. but after the war. he spent most of his active life in Paris. Turkish. and his glass-and-steel boxes became the archetypical urban buildingthough frequently cheapenedof the 20th century. The fourth great master in the First Generation of Modern Architecture (after Wright. rather than the irregular shapes. He had headed the Bauhaus after Gropius left Nazi Germany until he. “Corbu. Horta. Gropius. the Vienna Secession. Nonetheless.

Simple elegance becomes aggressively commonplace when clients are interested only about profit and their architects only in the size of fees. “A house. Le Corbusier. the Villa Savoye (1929) in Poissy. created buildings that looked as if they had been produced by a machine. and he flashed into a new period of creativity. and windows similar to industrial windows used in factories. uses sleek surfaces that appear stretched over a frame. Nothing about the Villa Savoyeor Gropius’s or Mies’s buildings for that mattersuggests where they were built. the masterpieces of the International Style are buildings of great refinement and technological beauty. trabeated architecture with it. Perret had recreated a sort of classicist.” The Villa Savoye looks like a machine for living.146 m o d e r n a r c h i t e c t u r e If the reinforcing bars are cleverly placed. he was quite evidently influenced by it. “is a machine for living. exposed heating pipes and lighting fixtures.” wrote Le Corbusier. Fallingwater. but once accustomed to it. ramps like those in parking garages. At their worst. curves which match the turning radius of the automobiles that dropped guests off at the front door." At its best. Critics have often applied the term International Style to these buildings. Although he condemned the International Style as soulless and inhumane. is a brilliant synthesis of the best qualities of the International Style and Wright’s genius for wedding a building to its site through forms and materials. or Los Angeles as Paris or Dessau or Tokyo or Chicago. most visitors find it exciting and strangely beautiful in a classical way. His practice revived in the late 1930s. who had passed into a period of relative obscurity after the success of the Prairie Style. however. It is still somewhat shocking today. the house in Pennsylvania which he designed in 1936. which places them alongside the great monuments of the past. materials. a town west of Paris. Its smooth concrete cantilevers recre- Villa Savoye Fallingwater . reinforced concrete can be molded into almost any form. Frank Lloyd Wright. They could as easily be in Buenos Aires. counter to his principles of organic architecture. was one of them. Hong Kong. and climates. His most famous house. International Style buildings are inhumane and crushingly boring. Some architects and critics criticized International Style architecture because it did not relate to or reflect local customs. It refers more to buildings’ nearly universal appropriatenessor inappropriatenessthan to the set of common decorative or formal features that we normally mean when we use the word "style.

masterpiecehe was 92 when he died during its constructionbut it has every characteristic except simplicity of an International Style building. Wright’s Guggenheim Museum in New York is a late. Le Corbusier began to speak ill of his designs of the 1920s. if controversial. Some were bored with simple geometry and bare. Some were committed to the avant-garde principle of rejecting anything that the public acceptedincluding their own projects. its roof is of rough-formed concrete and its extremely thick walls are coated in coarsely textured plaster. Gropius. France. A steadily increasing proportion of buildings began to be built in the “Modern” style that Mies. to which Mies and Gropius had emigrated and which had suffered less physically and economically than Europe. a different generation of client. and the Great Depression and the rise of Nazi Germany. to the International Style. (1950-55) startled and confused his admirers. Le Corbusier. He turned away from the industrial. proposed. often violently. private structures. often austere forms. and Le Corbusier had pioneered in the teens. and a changed public attitude. nor does Ronchamp seem to refer to any buildings of the Ronchamp Ronchamp plan . 20s and early 30s. including the Villa Savoye. Mies. Most of his buildings from this period also have brightly colored parts and handcrafted elements. whose writings he had admired as a young man. Most new Modern architecture was built in the United States. The post-war recovery period brought new economic conditions. THE SECOND GENERATION Very few examples of International Style architecture can be found in the United States prior to World War II. and other members of the avant-garde had built mostly relatively small. and then in Western Europe as it recovered from the war. In effect. several of the leading pre-war designers had already begun to reject their earlier projects. It is very irregular in plan and volume. Nothing about it seems to refer to the machine-age ideals of the First Generation. which considered Modern art and architecture decadent. Ironically. by this time. had put an end to even that much. he returned to aspects of architecture that Ruskin.m o d e r n a r c h i t e c t u r e 147 ate in man-made forms the rock layers under the waterfall over which the house is built. His chapel of Notre Dame at Ronchamp. highly-machined look of the International Style to a more personal architecture. Even in Europe. the general public and many architects were opposed. He combined natural materials with reinforced concrete that showed the marks of the rough-sawn boards used for formwork.

the worst aspects of Corbu's ideas were copied and the better ideas misunderstood. playground. Le Corbusier designed another religious building. especially in Europe and the United States. The PruittIgoe (1952-55) housing project in St. but it must be stressed. he replaced the old city street with a shopping floor half way up the building. He hated low. where Le Corbusier’s influence was even greater than in Europe or the United Statesexcept as a city planner. Correspondingly low budgets eliminated amenities like the roof terraces and landscaping around the blocks. are won over by its profoundly religious feeling. Le Corbusier’s ideas on city planninghe wrote several books and articles on the subjectwere especially influential in designing post-World War II urban renewal and mass housing projects. especially in Japan. elevators frequently broke down. the monastery of La Tourette near Lyon. but many did. and Le Corbusier violates another of the premises of the early Modernists when he defers to historical precedent. Louis proved so crimeridden and detested by its inhabitants that the city was forced to dynamite most of it in 1972. dense cities like Paris and conceived the ideal city as a series of widely spaced skyscrapers. However strange and puzzling the pilgrimage church seems at first sight.148 m o d e r n a r c h i t e c t u r e past. Published as a series of projects in the 1920s and modified over the following decades. and he designed the roof as a school. shows no trace of the high technology that had originally excited the First Generation. parents found it impossible to look after children on the ground from a 12th-floor apartment window. It took a while for younger architects to assimilate these new directions. He has brilliantly evoked the medieval monastery. and the Indian subcontinent. set up on freestanding columns in a landscaped park. Other cities have followed La Tourette plan La Tourette . several of which he studied in preparation for designing La Tourette. In it. France. and garden. Too often. Corbu first had the opportunity to try out in practice his ideal "city in a park" just after World War II with the Unité d’Habitation (1952) in Marseilles. South America. the only completed unit of a projected group of residential high-rise buildings. It. with uncompromisingly original forms and details. These tower-apartment blocks were unmitigated disasters when used for low-cost housing. almost everyone who visits it. Isolated towers and the elimination of the street destroyed the close-knit social patterns of the neighborhoods they replaced. peasant and architect alike. for better or worse. Le Corbusier was probably more influential as a city planner than as an architect. too.

used a Mies-Iike aesthetic for the General Motors Technical Center where a machine-age image was appropriate. suggesting instead that each building should have its own. banal. Saarinen created non-functional but soaring shapes expressive of flight in concrete. extremely expensive buildings when the architect was someone like Mies van der Rohe. and context (the immediate physical surroundings). replacing the towers in a park with more traditional lowrise townhouses on streets. In the terminal for Trans World Airlines at Kennedy Airport in New York. It burned in the late 60s. but he used more decorative and sculptural forms (much as Le Corbusier at Ronchamp) for others. but student protestors used it as an excuse to criticize the building. for example. for the most part.m o d e r n a r c h i t e c t u r e 149 suit. such as the Italian Nervi (Rome Olympic Stadium). Commercial success turned the once-shocking aspects of the International Style into cheap clichés. turned to the Middle Ages for inspiration.” Simple elegance became simplistic. developed sculptural towers to fit the Arts and Architecture Building at Yale into its Neo-gothic context and make it stand out on a prominent corner. in any case. The Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen. perhaps set on fire as a protest by the students who used it. Paul Rudolph. and in a series of dormitories at Yale University. the German Frei Otto (German Pavilion at the Montreal World’s Unité d’Habitation . another leader of the Second Generation. and monotonous in their hands. Some of the structural-engineer/architects of the period. This was. Widely admired for its spatial complexity when it was built. The Second Generation Modern architects used the International Style predominantly for utilitarian or commercial types of buildings. as Corbu had at La Tourette. he. (The fire may have been an accident. site. “Less is More” resulted in elegant. a revival of the old “Rationalist” versus “Formalist” controversy. it was soon criticized for being too self-conscious and for ignoring the needs of the people who used the building. The leading younger architects (the Second Generation) began to reject the very notion of a “universal style” of architecture. but many developers found that “Less could be Cheap. special identity that varied with client.) The more orthodox Modern architects (who considered themselves “Functionalists”) criticized these Second Generation architects for sacrificing function to form and for not clearly expressing the structure of the building on its exterior.

150 m o d e r n a r c h i t e c t u r e Rome Olympic Stadium Fair andas consultantthe Munich Olympic pavilions). There were many others. the American Buckminster Fuller (the GEODESIC DOME). James Stirling of England created a number of striking buildings by combining references to Futurist architecture with Archigram-Iike ideas and references to such 19th century buildings as the Crystal Palace. like the earlier and comparable Futurist architecture. The structure is the form of the building. remained on paper. carrier and carried are one and the same thing. which was built in 1972. in many cases they aren’t: technology is used for sensational effect. The most avant-garde of the Second Generation also avoided the Rationalist/Formalist controversies. Richard Meier was one of several architects who revived the aesthetic of the early Le Corbusier. Typically. and the Spanish-Mexican Felix Candela (thin-shell concrete vaults). experimented with new structural systems that rendered the Rationalist/Formalist controversy irrelevant. Most of this type of architecture. They took forms from a non-architectural context and turned them into buildings. These are only several of the directions explored by Second Generation architects in an attempt to find a modern style to replace the International Style of the First Generation. but Piano and Rogers used Archigram imagery in their design for a cultural center incorporating the museum of modern art in Paris (the Centre Pompidou or Pompidou Center). In their buildings. parts of their buildings were designed to move or change with the needs of the inhabitants (the “plug-in” city). oil refineries. One Archigram project was for an entire city that moved wherever its inhabitants wanted to go. The unprecedented wealth in the West and Japan during this period permitted architects and engineers to experiment with an astonishing variety of forms and structural techniques. The Archigram group from London used comic book illustrations. John Hejduk experimented with de Stijl forms. They also declared that process and change should be substituted for delight in the Vitruvian triad because modern society changes so rapidly and is so mobile. Only their dissatisfaction with the limitations of the First Generation ties these Second Generation architects together. The Metabolists in Japan also pursued directions parallel to the Archigram group. In the US. little concern was given either to the context of the buildings or to their energy consumption in the headlong search for something new and different. and even insects as sources for their buildings. They all reacted to one or German Pavilion Meier’s Hanselman House . Although these buildings look very functional and technological.

He included forms and compositional techniques. Kahn rejected the “less is more” approach to architecture and interpreted the dictum “form follows function” in a poetic. Kahn separates the laboratories (the “served” spaces) into one set of blocks and the services (stairs. but has actually increased since his death.)the "servant" spacesinto another set. etc. The resulting building looks both modern and like a medieval castle. airducts. His buildings were rich in allusions to many periods of history. the willingness to include more than one type of form or compositional device in the same building (the “inclusivist” approach). can be placed in the same category as the Parthenon. but he was more immediately influential than most of the other Second Generation. they. especially to those where the play of light over form and through space was as masterful as in his structures. The Richards Medical Center for the University of Pennsylvania was Kahn’s first famous structure. He is the only American architect of his generation whose worldwide reputation and influence has not only remained undiminished. Louis Kahn also reacted to First Generation forms and principles.m o d e r n a r c h i t e c t u r e 151 more of the characteristics of the International Style. His philosophies and buildings assimilated and synthesized so many (sometimes apparently conflicting) ideas that they served as the springboard for widely divergent approaches in others. Serene. The Salk Institute in La Jolla. free of historical references. they are rare examples of buildings that justify the adjective “sublime. we can see references to the near and far historical past begin to creep into architecturein contrast to the First Generation who wished to start each project with a clean slate. California and the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth. those of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts that had been avoided as “messy” or “impure” in the First Generation. one of Kahn’s followers and the author of an immensely controversial and influential book on architecture.” For many. Texas. are both examples of his later work. In hindsight. metaphysical way (“What does this building want to be?”). developed one aspect of Kahn’s philosophies. Robert Venturi. Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture. He argued Richard’s Medical Center Kimbell Art Museum . It gave poetic feeling to the expression of the different functional areas of the plan and was one of the most imitated buildings of the mid-century. Kahn reemphasized the Rationalist theory that decoration should derive from the patterns left by the construction of the building. for example. like Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona Pavilion.

and billboards that line most main streets in America are the real modern American vernacular architecture and should be the source of the architect’s design vocabulary. like the classification systems of biology and zoology. the simple. which he called “Build-ing boards. “Main Street is almost all right. it would never have occurred to Bramante that he was designing buildings in the “High Renaissance style. "History" meant stories that pointed out some useful moral.” In effect Venturi has rejected any traditional concept of beauty.” that is.152 m o d e r n a r c h i t e c t u r e that “less is a bore” and that buildings should reflect the natural complexity of life. if an event actually happened) was of little importance. was introduced in an attempt to find patterns in the phenomena of the world.” Everything in between was “barbaric. it is intentionally made to resemble the banal. the Roman Empire had occurred “a long time ago. its major piece of decoration is a television antenna . minimalist forms of the First Generation were possible only because they excluded the expression of functions that would complicate plans and elevations (the “exclusivist” approach). for example. Even more controversial among architects was his demand that they respond to what the average person builds and likes rather than try to impose sophisticated architectural theories and forms.” The concept of style. in fact. Guild House POSTMODERN ARCHITECTURE A very curious thing happened as a result of the Enlightenment obsession with classification: people became aware of their place in history. According to Venturi. His Guild House (1960-65) makes no attempt to be attractive. When an event happened (and. speculative apartment buildings in the neighborhood.” wrote Venturi. rather. people and societies had a rather hazy notion of what had happened in the past and when it had occurredif they were at all concerned. For the people of the Renaissance. He meant that the neon signs.” None of these cultures was aware of producing art or architecture of a certain “style. to find “universal laws” . Until that time. commercial architecture.not because TV antennas are beautiful but (says Venturi) because television is the most meaningful part of life for the elderly who live in the building. He designed buildings along highways that resembled abstracted billboards.

it is just interpreted in a variety of ways. the approach to architecture is even more eclectic. Saarinen studied the plans of medieval towns when he was designing dormitories at Yale. or if anything that a critic could directly associate with a building of the past was used. decoration. but it was generally accepted among Modernists as long as the references to the . to use the term "Modern" to refer to the architecture of the First and Second Generations as we have described it. As we have seen. or if Gothic decorative motifs were used.m o d e r n a r c h i t e c t u r e 153 that explained where we’d been. compositional devices. the Eiffel Tower was "modern. One characteristic that separates Modern from Postmodern architecture is that history is embraced." But we have come. however. starting in the 1950s. architects gradually began to accept references to history in their architecture. a “Gothic” style. and in the Postmodern period. Architects were made aware of and attempted to produce buildings in a certain style: a “Romanesque” style. with respect to architecture. Newton. there is no prevailing theory. A building was not considered Modern if it used the Greek Orders. It is a period of architectural pluralism. In the same way. “Postmodern. but that they could be arranged in a few related families. with many different directions. Indeed all decorative features were avoided if possible because most buildings of the past had been decorated. is less coherent than Modern. where we were going. by extension. "modern" means what is being done at the moment. As strange as it sounds to us today. andeventuallya "Modern" style. Modern architects tried to produce something entirely new for what they felt was an entirely new age. such questions were of no interest to anyone before the Renaissance and of very little interest before the Enlightenment. Strictly speaking. In 1889.” the next “period” after Modernism. We were starting to see different directions emerging after the Industrial Revolution. no singularly accepted approach. found that three statements could group and explain what had seemed to be a number of unrelated physical events. and. This practice was criticized to varying degrees. Linnaeus discovered that there were not a vast number of individual plants and animals. etc. scholars grouped art and architecture chronologically according to “style”: families of attitudes toward structure. Le Corbusier based La Tourette on a study of medieval monasteries. The basic tenet of Modern architecture is the rejection of any specific references to the historical past.

In a Modern building. for example. There is something Mannerist about this. It was. In addition toand related totheir rejection of historical architecture. Robert AT&T Building . They rejected the First Generation’s rejection of history. often exaggerating its decorative character. as if the pope had suddenly declared he was an atheist. rebellious leaders of early Postmodernism took a direct stance against the Modernists’ rejection of history and began to introduce historical details and imagery. a neat little paradox much appreciated by many of the Postmodernists. something like what Giulio Romano had done with High Renaissance architecture. for example. size. In the second place. the Seagrams Building. ironically. An elder statesmen of the American architectural profession. textures of the construction materials. for many of the more established architects. form. however. He had also first used the term “International Style” in the 1930s. But in several respects their approaches were still Modernist. Phillip Johnson. annoyed most Modern architects when he designed the AT&T (now Sony) Building in New York City.154 m o d e r n a r c h i t e c t u r e past were not explicit and as long as the architects were using the principles of historical buildings but not the specific forms or details. he had been Mies van der Rohe’s collaborator on the Parthenon of the Modern skyscrapers. These credentials as a Modernist made his use of a classical pediment on top of the AT&T skyscraper and a motif borrowed from Brunelleschi for the entrance especially surprising. or scale or by parodying them: setting a keystone on top of a column. Some Postmodern architects such as Thomas Gordon Smith revived historical styles (in his case Classicism). even that of the Orders. and the joints between those construction materials were the “decoration. they rejected recent history. rejecting history. but most Postmodern architects did not revive historical styles as the 19th century Eclectics (or in the sense the Renaissance architects) did. They took isolated historical details and transformed them into something "new" by changing their original function. the Postmodernists were still trying to shocka top priority of the First Generation. they were. Modern architects typically rejected the idea of applied decoration or superficial ornamentation. one of the first important Postmodern buildings with obvious historical reference.” Postmodernists embraced the idea of applied ornament. or making an Ionic capital out of stainless steel. as well as one of the leading architects of the Second Generation. Firstly. Later.

” in which architecture strives to be efficient. colored stucco. This is acceptance of what a nonarchitect builder might typically do. Venturi’s Postmodern “less is a bore” philosophy encourages what he calls “messy vitality” that can be achieved through decoration. The building is covered in smooth. His Nelson Fine Arts Center in Tempe. Architect Antoine Predock. for example.m o d e r n a r c h i t e c t u r e 155 Venturi and Denise Scott Brown used plywood silhouettes of the Doric Order and pre-cast concrete moldings and Orders. and concrete. It is no wonder that many Postmodern architects have been hired to design buildings with oversized swan acroteria or miniaturized European cities within the fabricated fantasy world of Walt Disney. to attach a plywood portico onto the front of a prefabricated metal building intended for industrial use and call it a banquet hall. made pink to match the nearby desert earth. Many Modernist buildings are made of steel. simple. and materials. details from neo-classical architecture and buildings of the 1930s. and applied decoration. it is okay. some Postmodern architects have chosen to reflect regional or vernacular character by using a variety of material palettes while showing a Modernist influence. Another group of Postmodern architects has continued Portland Office Building Hotel at Disney World Nelson Fine Arts Center . including a large statue. Arizona. unlike the many “machined” Modernist buildings that could just as well sit in India as they would in Boston. culture. This project and many of his others literally and metaphorically reveal the character of their specific locations. A Postmodern architect can also be inspired by local traditions. Michael Graves (probably the most fashionable of the early Postmodern architects) stirred great controversy with his Portland Office Building with super-scaled keystone motifs. glass. and pure. climate. However. and can be mass produced in any industrialized society. As many of the Postmodernists themselves have observed. features strong sculptural forms that mimic Native American colonies nestled in the cliffs. is well known for architecture that reflects the character of the Southwestern American desert. Postmodernists’ use of applied ornament was entirely different from the Modernists’ reductivist philosophy of “less is more. According to Venturi. preceded by architects like Luis Barragán in Mexico and Carlos Scarpa in Italy (each of these Modernists adopted techniques and traditions of their respective countries). these non-traditional historical decorations are illusions no deeper than a layer of paint or an appliqué of plywood or cardboard.

From A Global History of Architecture by Francis D. so it becomes one of the branches of Postmodernism that isn’t easily classified as simply “anti-Modern. Getty Center Museum plan . schools. and other museums. known for his trademark gleaming white buildings with abundant glass. also in Paris. as in his houses. is a museum turned inside-out so that its systems and structure are on the exterior to make room for flexible and large open spaces on the interior. as in Norman Foster’s high-rise Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank. they are expensive to maintain. Jarzombek and Vikramaditya Prakash. and industrially produced surfaces. cover the windows and respond to light like our eye’s pupil.” Another architect who has maintained a Modern aesthetic in his architecture is Richard Meier. Not only are these buildings expensive to build. Other high-tech buildings feature unusual elements. Inc. mechanically opening with cloud cover and closing with sunlight. he has been heavily influenced by the early architecture and ideas of Le Corbusier. which. these architects have responded to our culture’s fascination with technology and delighted users. he designed a large-scale exterior truss structural system within which he suspended the floors. elevators and escalators. As you can imagine.” another branch of Postmodernism. metal panels. in essence. These buildings are influenced by Piano and Rogers’ previously mentioned Pompidou Center. a high-tech architect was initially interested in designing a building that could be built from an inexpensive “kit-of-parts. and they become a primary aspect of a building’s aesthetic appeal. Nonetheless. These “high-tech” architects who try to give their buildings space age/computer age imagery (much as the First Generation used machine-age imagery) by emphasizing technical components: heating and air-conditioning ducts. Interior offices open onto a light-filled atrium. aesthetically designed to incorporate traditional Islamic ornamentation. High-tech architecture is rationalist in the sense that it exposes the structure of the building. In the Getty Center. Ironically. As previously mentioned. making his architecture “neo-Modern. polished. by permission from John Wiley & Sons.156 m o d e r n a r c h i t e c t u r e Pompidou Center to explore the “machine aesthetic” of Modernism. Mark M. he uses a Modernist language of pure geometries. high-tech architecture can require sophisticated engineering and custom fabrication. In Jean Nouvel’s Arab World Institute. They expose structural and mechanical systems. which the Modernists had hidden. Ching. and highly machined. His recent Getty Center Museum is an impressive museum complex (with its own tram) whose strong geometric forms stretch across a hilltop overlooking Los Angeles.” an inherently Modern idea. K. For the building.

Piano. quiet buildings that highlight the art and. Again. Museums and concert halls have become the most prominent building types for many American and international cities. like many medieval towns that built cathedrals to attract pilgrims. Pei’s masterpieces like the National Gallery in Washington. has a sophisticated ceiling system that filters harsh sunlight within clean modern forms. and has used technology to manipulate a museum’s most important feature: light. D. entry.M. Atlanta. or what the skyscraper the cathedral to commerce. and his Louvre Museum renovation and Pyramid in Paris are of Modernist influence. which can become artistic statements as strong as the art or artifacts they protect.M. even baroque. not incidentally. His Nasher Sculpture Gallery in Dallas. Bilbao. I.m o d e r n a r c h i t e c t u r e 157 The Getty Center was a big undertaking for Los Angeles. for example. has designed many great museums throughout the world. To a certain degree. Two architects who have successfully designed “museums as cultural statements” as well as provided pleasant and effective places to view art are I. Getty Center Museum Louvre Museum Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao plan Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao . The brilliant building contrasts its dense. the commanding symbol of the city. Spain. was little visited by tourists before Los Angeles architect Frank Gehry designed the Guggenheim Museum on its riverbank. Chicago. New York. many cities have picked up on this and are building museums to attract tourists. heavily influenced by Louis Kahn. It works because its site on the river calls for a focal point object that contrasts with its otherwise quiet background architecture. Pei and Renzo Piano. previously a distinctly American preoccupationis to developing cities like Dubai. His museums are subtle. Often the most elaborate and expensive materials and most sophisticated engineering are used in museums. and they have helped make museum going more popular among the masses. including cities like Paris. Bern. serving as statements of societal values. C. blend seamlessly into their settings. traditional surroundings with a series of complex and sculptural titanium forms that come together to create the dramatic. and Houston. Basel. It is important to note that a city could quickly become visually too chaotic if it were filled with “Gehry” object buildings. and has created a revival for Bilbao by attracting tourists who would otherwise have not ventured there. It is the focal point. the museum is to our cities what the cathedral church was to medieval towns.

but we also build museums that protect important ideas our society holds dear or that educate visitors about certain events and people. Whether a museum or concert hall becomes a backdrop for its art. and frequently “anything goes”. several architects. especially those of Jacques Derrida. something avantgarde. or ideas. by James Ingo Freed of the office Pei Cobb Freed and Partners Architects. text has no universal meaning. There have been many variants of Postmodernism. therefore. we are still in the Postmodern period. this could imply that the language of architecture has infinite interpretation. although most architects have moved away from the direct historical references of Venturi and Graves. artifacts. provides his or her personal interpretation of any given architectural problem. Its architecture not only educates a visitor about this horrific time in history but also encourages the visitor to react emotionally through the expression of its architecture. therefore. including Frank Gehry and the Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid. For architects attempting to apply his theory to architecture. Architecture is still Postmodern in the sense that it has no rules and does not seem to be working toward a collective refinement of ideas.C. and. can represent a collective expression of how our society interprets an event. Derrida’s Deconstructionist theories stated that any given text holds infinite interpretation. We are in a postmodern society in which problems have become so complex that it is difficult to look at any situation as black or white. like the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. music. These memorial museums. for all practical purposes. “Deconstruction” architectural theorists looked to theories of other disciplines such as literary criticism. Every problem can be analyzed from many viewpoints. There is no right and wrong. even as we are continually trying to reinterpret the past or create something new. architecture can convey little universal meaning. or becomes a powerful statement in itself. Each architect. At the same time Deconstructionist theory was being discussed.158 m o d e r n a r c h i t e c t u r e We have focused on art museums. one as seemingly valid as the next. for example. D. began exploring the turnof-the-century Russian Constructivist and German Expressionist art movements to inform their architecture’s formal US Holocaust Memorial Museum . the importance of the museum is a sign that our society does want to preserve and reflect on beautiful things that reveal our values or the ideas that have shaped our culture. no central authority. In some of the many variants of Postmodern architecture.

biomorphic forms. looking to something in the past. It was later abandoned and converted to a furniture museum either because the building didn’t function well as a fire station (the fire station garage doors opened too slowly) or. but a show offers a venue to present influential new ideas. for example. what these architects have been really developing are ideas of an early 20th century modern aesthetic and have in no way applied the ideas of Derrida to their work. So many shifting factors are contributing to the changing architecture.m o d e r n a r c h i t e c t u r e 159 vocabulary. In some ways. Their resultant buildings appear “deconstructed” with fragmented and chaotic forms. because the fire station was no longer needed. including new computer design software. offering endless possibilities for them and their clients. Architects like Gehry. These programs have enabled architects to design buildings with more complex. during the design process. In high-profile fashion shows. Few architects are truly Deconstructionists.” In fact. clothing is often featured that few ordinary people would actually wear. These approaches may result in quite exciting and inspiring architecture. For whichever reason. Other architects have adapted software similar to that used in video game design or by the film industry. leading to new approaches. Hadid designed the Vitra Design Center Fire Station in Germany. The newness and the sculptural aspects of these buildings have intrigued the media. however. As in fashion. we have passed through so many new “styles” and “–isms” in the last 25 years that sometimes buildings designed to follow current trends found in the magazines are almost out-of-date by the time they are completed. Like other Postmodern architecture. according to some. this can be compared to the fashion industry. and it has presented architects with more options. Architects must also keep up with the many new building materials and technologies that are being introduced. and the media began to label this type of architecture as deconstructionist. and it has become common for the media to praise buildings that might not even meet one of Vitruvius’s three basic criteria for architecture: utilitas. and advancing technology. The computer has changed the way architects design and communicate. even the recent past. Vitra Design Center Fire Station . this is a form of historical quotation. Hadid worked with few preconceived rules for function. or “deconstructive architecture. development of new building materials. design with computer programs developed for the aeronautical industry for complex three-dimensional manufacturing design.

Many architects and clients agree that something must be done to reduce the negative impact our buildings have on the environment. the cost of energy rises. we would all benefit from living and working in less toxic. many cities have recognized this problem. such as solar panels that create energy from the sun. Green architecture can be achieved passively by imitating ancient building techniques from a time without electricity or gas. shop or go to school. nontoxic. separate. When we separate where we work and live. or made using little energy.” Green. City planning theory. as during the energy crisis of the 1970s. we are forced to commute. Only those who cannot afford to move to suburbia or to commute are left in the central city. Many of these ideas led to the underlying problems that resulted in urban and SUBURBAN SPRAWL. this becomes a concern when. was established on the idea of separating usesdesignating seemingly efficient. and unrelated places where people work. which consequently decays. easy to transport. like that of Le Corbusier’s Radiant City. Even if energy prices fluctuate up and down. New Urbanist towns are typically designed so that residents have no more than a five-minute walk to the store or to public transportation that is ideally . that is. and sometimes we are even required to drive within our neighborhoods just to buy bread. As we have identified. incorporates Postmodern architecture into sustainable planning. We again see a movement in architecture that can go many directions. and eco-friendly materials. materials that are easily renewable. especially without regard to public transportation.160 m o d e r n a r c h i t e c t u r e SUSTAINABLE ARCHITECTURE Making its way into both high profile and everyday architectural design and city planning is a movement towards “green. Traditionally. best articulated by Andres Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk. New Urbanism. and many American downtowns are enjoying a rebirth and revitalization with new housing densities in or near the urban cores. more pleasant and energy efficient environments. The basic ideas behind green architecture can be applied on the larger scale of city planning. Fortunately. architecture is friendly to the environment and to humans by conserving energy resources and reducing pollution. or architects can use technology. or sustainable. building systems that reuse and recycle resources. live. one of the failures of Modern architecture was city planning.

and reflect the local vernacular architecture in appearance and construction. As architecture and its practice become more global. we need to have a better understanding of our world in general and of other cultures in particular. Many architectural firms are doing international work. His buildings use less energy than standard ones. the towns are made more enjoyable because community public space is made important. China. sustainability has become a global issue. Fay Jones is a building very difficult to classify.m o d e r n a r c h i t e c t u r e 161 connected to a downtown area. Whatever direction architectural “style” may turn. Remarkably. Seaside. markets. one that architects can lead. inspired by turnof-the-century “village” housing. for it has not become world-famous because it was a pioneering work or because it was avant-garde or sensational. The chapel blends peacefully and poetically into its forested site. because it so thoroughly blends with nature. and some are even establishing international office branches. schools. respond directly to their immediate sites. In Seaside. but it generally refers to architecture that has a more symbiotic relationship with its natural and built surroundings. physically and spiritually. and public buildings like the post office are grouped together and are similar in appearance. Although many architects criticize New Urbanism’s nostalgic imagery. Thorncrown Chapel by E. it is sustainable in the fullest extent. it is important to have a full knowledge and respect for China’s local practice and customs to achieve a building Seaside. if not more. capturing the spirit of beachside architecture in a contemporary way. giving the town identity and getting people out of their cars. near Eureka Springs. Design at the larger planning scale has just as much impact. stores. that is. Arkansasnot considered one of the cultural centers of the world. Florida Thorncrown Chapel . It is a particularly heartening masterpiece of architecture from 1980. as it connects shops. and housing. on sustainability as it does at the smaller scale of a building. houses. as architectural firms increasingly design buildings in other countries. Florida is a New Urbanist town. Glenn Murcutt is an architect who has achieved a wholly sustainable architecture that combines a clean Modernist aesthetic with the “local flavor” of Australia. its architect was not widely known beyond his region. When an American firm designs a high-rise in Shanghai. At this smaller scale. it has become famous simply because it is extraordinarily fine architecture that has proven itself over time. Sustainable architecture can take on many appearances.

wood and concrete. I thank you. Ingenuity is at work. consultants. everyone involved in the project (the client. That is construction. to produce meaningful architecture that will last for many generations. from Towards a New Architecture . Great architecture will reflect the values of a society. architect. and with these materials you build houses and palaces. as I might thank Railway engineers or the Telephone service. I am happy and I say: "This is beautiful. But suddenly you touch my heart. and contractors) must begin the project with common goals. My house is practical. in the 20s: You employ stone. and leave an artistic legacy for the future." That is Architecture. engineers. Clear communication on complex projects is vital. Art enters in. but most importantly. you do me good. As Le Corbusier wrote. communicate and reinforce them to the society itself.162 m o d e r n a r c h i t e c t u r e that best suits its clients and users. very eloquently.

FIRMITAS UTILITAS VENUSTAS FIRMNESS COMMODITY DELIGHT .