Changing Attitudes About Architectural Modernism


Question 1 – Changing Attitudes About Architectural Modernism Architectural modernism took different forms throughout the course of the twentieth century, and the directions that modernism should take were often debated and critiqued within architectural culture. Identify three distinct directions of architectural modernism, and discuss one American building associated with each episode to support your discussion. Your discussion should include the building’s plan and exterior form. Select one building from each of the following time periods: 1920s-1930s, 1950s, and 1960s-90s. The beginning of your essay also should include a brief definition of your understanding of architectural modernism.

1920s-1930s: Schindler’s Beach House for Dr. Lovell (some keynotes below)
Parallel to De Stil and International Styles in Europe
Exposed reinforced concrete -structural capabilities of a new material
Focused on the health of the occupant, Dr. Lovell
1950s: o Farnsworth House (some keynotes below)
Open plan with central core
Strong emphasis on interaction with the environment because of the extreme transparency of the glass
Not really functional – Dr. Edith Farnsworth was client and felt like she was a fish in a fishbowl—always being watched
Exemplifies problematic aspects of modernism – actual experience does not match up with the purist ideal
“Less is more”
8 steel columns supporting a glass box
Joinery was very sleek to emphasize modern components coming together
Raised off the ground to accommodate flooding of nearby Fox River and raising it off ground like Le Corbusier raises his buildings off the ground (Villa Savoye) in order to let the landscape go through the building on the ground plane uninterrupted
• Like Mies’ earlier ideas at the German Pavilion (Barcelona Pavilion) – very planar architecture, emphasizing roof and ground planes
• Very expensive, luxurious marble materials and shiny chrome
Divides the space with planar elements the same way that the deals with the Barcelona Pavilion
Open floor plan with a central core
Travertine marble on the ground floor – outdoor pedestals and continues into the house – blurs the divison between exterior and interior to help the building seem more like an extension of nature
Mies used the color white to make the building contrast against the natural environment
1960s: Frank Gehry House (some keynotes below)
-User and exploration of materials, such as plywood, chain link, wood framing
-Less precious, more common, familiar, off-the-shelf materials that you could pick up at a hardware store

  • Less precious, more common, familiar, off-the-shelf materials that you could pick up at a hardware store
    -Inspired by the common materials
    -Critiquing the idea of the suburbs because he buys this typical 1920s bungalow and then makes it unique by adding this assemblage of materials to it
    -Less is a bore, architecture that complicated and that contradicts itself more interesting
    -Architecture that reflects the messy vitality of the urban environment



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