Historian of modern architecture
As a historian of modern architecture, many great architects, design ideas, planning
efforts and building from the 19th century to the 21st century would be considerable works that can be documented for this history book. Many well know designers will be mention in the document because of the contribution to the body of architecture. The goal of categorizing individual works as iconic or canonical in an effort to understand the progress of Architectural history is necessary to comprehend the scope and impact of the practice over time. As an historian of architecture I will analyze the individual iconographical contribution through a individual works of Walter Gropius, Mies van der Rohe , Le Corbusier, Eliel Saarinen, Philip Johnson, Buno Taut, Louis Sullivan, Edwin Lutyen, Gunnar Asplund and Eero Saarinen.
Walter Gropius will be mention. This German educator and Architect was a major influence on the development and practice of modern architecture. He was well known for creating innovative design that utilized materials that founded the movement of modern architecture and technology. Gropius was a student at the Technical University in Munich and Berlin. Also an intern architect at Peter Behrens's office. Later Gropius would partner with Adolph Meyer and open a architectural office. Early works from the partnership would be influences of Peter Behren. As an educator Gropius did not follow rules, but rather acted as the balance between the rational, representative, and physical values versus spiritual, esthetic and humanitarian values.
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The most credible work of Walter Gropius that would be in this history book would be his school building and housing for the Bauhaus. The Bauhaus was a school for arts and crafts. This building was iconic, because it became a paradigm for the international modernist style. This building had an asymmetrical plan, simplicity in elevation with white walls with horizontal windows. This glass envelope was impressive and possible because of innovative modern construction methods with steel. The interior too made use of open and free space to encourage interaction between disciplines while maintaining a universal function, making clear the Bauhaus's connection to the De Stijl movement.
Another worthy Architect for this history book is Mies van der Rohe. As an architect he had a similar modernist vision as Walter Gropius. His use of a high level of clarity and simplicity, he managed to create a very influential 20th century architectural style. The Seagram Building in New York City would showcase as his best work for the history book. The Seagram Building is the purest example the corporate skyscraper at the time of its completion in 1958.Not only where his designs modern, but he also made use of modern materials such as industrial steel and plate glass which was used mainly to define the interior spaces. Mies van der Rohe was known for his ideas that "Less is more" and "God is in the details" to prove this, he designed with little framework of structural order and balanced. Mies life long mission was to create an intellectual foundation for a new architecture language that can show and speak to the culture in which it exists.
Charles Edouard Jeanneret also known as Le Corbusier was a great pioneer in studies of modern architecture. A draftsmen of Auguste Perret the architect who guided Le Corbusier his early education in mathematics, mechanics, and sciences. He became a dedicated architect who provided a body of work that contributed to better living conditions for the residents of crowded cities. He was also influential in urban planning making him one of histories all around designers. Le Corbusier came up with ideas on how architecture can meet the demand of the machine age. He created an idea called of Purism. This idea was a method that simplified architecture and end the use of ornamentation. Le Corbusier wanted architecture to be very efficient like the factory line. Though many of his later works are worthy of mention in this history book, it is Villa Savoye a very memorable project that sums up Le Corbusier's ideals.
Philip Johnson, an American architect is associated with post modernism worked with Mies van der Rohe on the Seagram Building. However, he is an architect who reinvents him self by designing on the coat tales of other architects. He had to play a balancing act between minimalism and popular art. His work alone is worth exploring as he kept with the changing times of the late 19th century into the 20th century. His design for the AT&T Building was innovative and was a great effort of reinventing the idea of what skyscrapers should look like. In essence, the AT&T Building would be the example of Johnson' s work for the history book.
Eliel Saarinen an architect from Finland, is credited with creating a style known as Finnish National Romanticism. An important individual of history Saarinen's influences ranged from local vernacular architecture, the Arts and Craft movement and Art Nuevo. His more impressive works are in Finland such as the Helsinki Central Railway Station. Although, he is internationally remembered for his second place finish in the: Tribune Tower competition in Chicago, Illinois. Saarinen's work in Finland could be considered the more influential in the grand scheme of the modern movement due to the modern attraction for local forms generated in Scandinavian countries in the late 19th and early 20th century's.
Bruno Taut is included in the history book for his unique use of glass and color. He believed that color influenced the environment, saved energy, and aesthetically pleasing. Bruno's approach was based on a belief that architecture included more than a strictly functional role, but could enhance the quality of life. He strongly believed that color could enhance a building and give it an extra dimension. Bruno's notable building was the Glass Pavilion was designed for the Wekbund Exhibition in Cologne in 1914. This polygonal dome-like structure constructed of a space frame with diamond-shaped glass panels was monumental and an example of expressionism.
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Another Architect of the modern movement that would be included in this history book is an American architect, Louis Sullivan. A strong believer of form following function. Sullivan's Iconic building would be the Wainwright Building in St Louis. Wainwright was a project that set such lasting standards for tall buildings as a sense of "verticality," establishing base, central, and top sections (tripartite) as formal organizing principals for the composition. As well as showcasing the form of the skeletal frame system that replaced bearing masonry as the structures main support.
Edwin Lutyens a British architect who showcased a diverse understanding of western building traditions from classical to baroque and considered local context. His most mature expression is that of the capital design for New Deli culminating with his Viceroy's House project. Here he skillfully brought his western design motifs and combined them with traditional Indian forms. This was considered a success, making it an important contribution to history that will be included in this history book.
Erik Gunnar Asplund a Swedish Architect was a great at using historic precedents in context with unique projects. The Woodland Chapel is his best example of work that in context makes good use of its precedent. Located in the heart of the cemetery, Asplund simplifies historic building forms while merging them with regions topography to create a building completely in harmony with the landscape and its juxtaposition to the cemetery.
The Woodland Chapel is a icon of the region and significant to the selection of work for this history book.
Finally the last architect to be included in this history book is Eero Saarinen, son of Eliel Saarinen. Eero attend architecture school at Yale University. He worked under his father firm until the unfortunate death of his father. Eero was a designer who saw the future. Exciting and innovative his designs would look to be impossible to construct be nevertheless breathtaking. Eero's most significant building was his TWA Terminal at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York. This space age design concept was completely fascinating. Eero was masterful at using cast in place concrete in the TWA Terminal. The airport terminal was like no other of its time. It was captivating because it belonged its form is pure, curvy, and in motion.
As Gropius and Mies reacted to the architectural movements prior to their breakthrough ideas, the American architects Venturi and Brown reacted to modernism. Their approaches were responsive to site, climate, local history and culture. They did not deny the findings from history like the European did. While Gropius and Mies celebrated and embraced the machine and technology, the American architects despite their modern based education and training questioned the machine based ideals and decided that humanistic values for approaching architecture were more impressive.
If European architects had the solutions to solve urbanism and architecture, then Venturi's "Complexity and Contradiction" would not be a breakthrough as a innovative critic of the purist way of designing. Venturi challenged the modern way of thinking but unlike most modernist, he does not denounce it. Simply put, Venturi's complex ideas gives alternative and pragmatic solutions to modern way of designing. His partner and wife, Denise Scott Brown also further addresses the issue in their book "Learning from Las Vegas: the Forgotten Symbolism of Architectural Form." Here, Venturi and Brown challenged the exclusive and purist approach of conventional modern architecture and approaches the American modernist movement.
What makes the American architects Venturi and Brown icons is their will to pushback to the purist and modernist ideals from Europe. They began a new western modernist way of looking designing architecture in the 20th century. Their ideals are more organic, and metaphorically "natural", to a humanistic approach by utilizing local vernaculars. If they did change their styles to conform to international style approach to designing/planning none of their work would have been interesting, functional, or innovative than anything other work produced by Architects. This is more or less the reason why architects don not allow style to standardization design.
Scully has done his part as a historian at recognizing that Venturi, and Brown are American icons in the world of Architecture. The team of Venturi and Brown has their own integral part to play in this same discussion. While both display a very American characteristics of individuality, adaptability, and innovation. Their built projects posses the attributes that allowed others to see through the restricted modern prescriptions to the beauty of material, metaphor, and quotation present in work created for a place and crafted at a specific moment in time. Architecture & planning at large and the condition of modernism today is because of European and American icons.
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Today architects and designer who practice are forced to come to terms with modernism. This architecture of the people emerged as a socially minded response to poor living conditions that resulted from industrialization. Today architecture advocates that buildings should be hygienic and immersed with light and air to promote good health and a sense of well-being. New methods of construction were pursued, presaging a new order, a new way of expressing the elements of architecture. Although it is purged of all ornamentation, this environment was to be one of simplicity. Pure structure, abstract planar enclosures, basic materials, and sleek furniture complete design throughout ideally for flat sites.
"But by limiting the legitimate elements of architectural enclosure, removing all historical associations, and relying more on theory than experience to justify the results, modernism led to a monotony that alienated those for whom it was intended. Instead of remaining a populist movement, modernism was taken up by the wealthy to convey status, eventually becoming a form of corporate chic. Shorn of its populist underpinnings, it became a style for a select few."
The above is a quote from Hardy Holzman and Pfeiffer the firm which designed the Hippodrome Theater Renovation in Baltimore and many award winning projects in the United States.
In my opinion being a practicing designer in the 21st century, I hope that creative new creative and challenging architecture continues to amaze the world with our imagination. I think that is what the root of this profession is about providing shelter fro the mind and body. We have to have many different styles of architecture from the Arts and Crafts movement, to Di Stijl movement, to the modernistic movement. Architecture will continue to grow and change. As it evolves, their will be "bad architecture" and "good architecture" it is all about trial and error, but never forgetting what was done in the past. It is just an evolution of it. In every "bad' building there is a lessoned learned and something positive that you can take away from it. Also with the way technology is going, the buildings of later generations are going to surpass anything that might have been produced in the time of Corbusier or Mies.
Tradition and classism will never be lost. Successful architects will always draw back to history of an existing idea and only tries to make it better. I appreciate the innovative and new ways that the future designers are thinking and expressing themselves throughout their buildings. But to draw back to our past designers their building will not last forever. They will look great in history books and will always have the great names of architects who design them. Once iconic always iconic that my opinion. The future will have more iconic buildings and masters of design but the direction of architecture will be all about the way people evolve and grow. No evolution will have no change and push architecture in the opposite direction. An individual has to know the past to know there will be evolution in the future.
Louis Khan is one of the most important figures in architecture in the 20th century. Louis Kahn was born in Saarama (Saaremaa), Estonia in 1901. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Beaux Art School of architecture. The Classically-trained Kahn began to develope an appreciation for the emerging architecture of the International Style through his contacts with Philadelphia architects, Oscar Stonorov and George Howe.Louis Kahn contributed to architecture as an architect and an educator.During Khans youth years he worked at several companies in Philadelphia and then went own to create his own company is 1935. At this time he also worked as a designer at Yale School of Architecture (1947- 1957) and he spent the rest of his years after that teaching at the University of Pennsylvania.
Kahn was influenced by ancient ruins and classical and monumental buildings. Simple platonic forms and compositions made of brick and concrete, was Khan Signature. Kahn's practices were a combination of Beaux Arts and modern methods. Kahn contributed to architecture because he "bridged the gap between architects as artist.
Kahn was one of the most significant practitioners of his time and remains one of the most influential Architects of these ages. Khan's architectural theories in architecture utilize simple, platonic forms and compositions. Through the use of brick and poured-in place concrete masonry, Kahn developed a contemporary and monumental architecture catered to the site.
Kahn reinforced his mark in architecture by having an opportunity to teach his beliefs to a younger generation. Starting in 1947, he taught at Yale University and later the University of Pennsylvania. It was during this time that Kahn had the most influence on architecture and carried his theories on Architecture and City Planning to his eager young students. These students grew as his disciples in the field of architecture began to increase. Kahn is responsible for educating the last generation of Architects. Seeing Kahn's influences in teachings is undeniable, and Kahn referencing his theories outside of the history classroom is common throughout the discipline of Architecture.
Kahn wanted buildings to embrace nature. An example of this for Kahn is the Salk Institute, in La Jolla, California. The attractive scenery embraces nature and the building meeting the sky embrace the lesson learned through Kahn teaching. Kahn was inspired by Corbusier's The Marseille unité d'habitation. This housing development had an internal shopping store, a recreation and children's nursery to accommodate its tenants. Kahn significant roles in the academic industry help clinch the theories on the importance of natural light, which was an important element in many of Kahn's projects.
Kahn's greatest set influences on Architect were his experiences to extensive travels world wide. After visiting places of unquestioned historic character such as Egypt, Greece, France, Scotland, and Rome, Kahn questioned his own traditional and Modernist Architectural roots. Kahn responded to these influences with designs such as Jatiyo Sangshad Bhaban, the Kimbell Art Museum, and the Salk Institute (among others) showcasing his blend of the International style with his own reinterpretation of ancient building spirit in these projects.
Kahn treated his projects as if each were an enclosed giving great care to addressing "served and servant spaces." Materiality was also of enormous concern to Kahn who worked extensively with concrete and brick to create buildings of continuity adding to the monumental effect. Kahn was well-known for his conversations with bricks, Kahn used materials as he believed they would want to be used. Khan would say "the brick tells you how it wants to built". So in the case of the brick he would ask what its proper purpose was and as the response was "to be an arch," he would craft brick arches as a design feature. He did this in concert with using local building materials and crafts people whenever possible to give his projects an indigenous character that blended timelessly with the environment for which the building was designed. Kahn's choice of material also gave him a grasp on control of scale, which he used masterfully to humanize space where appropriate. All of these features came together in Kahn's work to produce structures with a spirit and true Architectural character.
The career of Louis Kahn influenced architecture through his teaching and theories. Kahn's approach to Architecture was modernist and contemporary. Kahn illustrated simple and traditionally modern movement, which were lesson he picked up through his travels throughout the world. Kahn embraced and utilized the saying (more or less).
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