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The International Style

Major architectural style in Europe & USA Began in the 1920s 19302 (1980s) Term coined by Henry Russell Hitchcock and Phillip Johnson

Philip Cortelyou Johnson (1906-2005)


Henry-Russell Hitchcock (1903-1987)

The most important figures


The big three Le Corbusier (France) Ludwig Mies van Rohe (Germany) Walter Gropius (Germany)

Nazis rejected the modern architecture forcing an entire generation of architects out of Europe. Mies fled to the USA in 1936 extending his influence and promoting Bauhaus which later became the primary source of architectural modernism. The International Style became the dominant approach for decades.

The International Style was striving towards:


Simplification, Honesty and Clarification

The ideals of the style can be summed up in four slogans: ornament is a crime form follows function truth to materials machines for living (Le Corbusier)

Identifying features/characteristics
Modern structural principles and material (commercial and institutional buildings rather than housing)

Concrete Glass Steel (most common) Occasionally reveals skeleton frame construction Exposing its structure Rejected non-essential decoration Ribbon windows Corner windows Bands of glass Balance and regularity Flat roof, without ledge Often with thin, metal mullions and smooth spandrel panels separating large, single-pane windows

The typical International Style high-rise usually consists of the following:

1. Square or rectangular footprint 2. Simple cubic "extruded rectangle" form 3. Windows running in broken horizontal rows forming a grid 4. All facade angles are 90 degrees

The most famous manifestations include:

United Nations Headquarters Completed 1952 New York, NY Le Corbusier

Seagram Building

Completed 1957 New York, NY (park avenue) Ludwig Mies van Der Rohe (and Phillip Johnson)

Access to new building technologies like reinforced concrete , and steel framework for building meant that designers could seek a whole new approach to what is known as the plan or the layout of the interiors of buildings. The enormous strength of these new materials opened new worlds for designers that were unheard of in building before.

Glass Palace
(the Netherlands Frits Peutz) 1935

Ludwig Mies Van der Rohewig


Chicago, Illinois 1949

Ludwig Mies Van der Rohewig Chicago, Illinois 1973

Gropius House

Walter Gropius

The Farnsworth House

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

International Style glass house

Philip Johnson 1949