The Twentieth Century and Modernism

The Twentieth Century and Modernism

The Twentieth Century and Modernism

©2014 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All rights reserved.

Buildings across Time, 4th Edition Chapter Fifteen: The Twentieth Century

and Modernism Introduction

While all architecture has obviously been “modern” at the time of its construction, the term “Modernism” or “European Modernism” has been used throughout the twentieth century to describe the radical attitude toward building that developed in Europe after World War I. Modernism was exported to the United States and elsewhere and so became known as the International Style.

Advocates of this architecture, which was characterized by sleek, unornamented surfaces, interpenetrating spatial volumes, and a generally machine-made aesthetic, have seen it as expressive of the “spirit of the age.” Detractors have seen it as boringly reductivist and short on meaning.

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Adolf Loos Steiner House

Loos: Steiner House, Vienna, Austria, 1910. Orthogonal massing, punched-out windows, a pipe-rail balustrade, and an absolute lack of ornament announce the nature of Loos’s radical architectural proposals. At the front elevation, he made concessions to the surrounding residential context that he would not make again.

 

 

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Adolf Loos Steiner House

Longitudinal section through the Steiner House. Neither Loos’s plan nor section yet suggests the investigations of spatial interpretations that will appear in his mature houses.

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Adolf Loos Moller House

Loos: Moller House, Vienna, 1930. Gone is the symmetry of the Steiner House. Even more dramatically used are the simple window frames and the linear railings. The space on the inside has become the dominant element of the composition.

 

 

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Adolf Loos Moller House

Loos: Second-floor (below) and third- floor (above) plans of the Moller House, Vienna. Above the ground floor Loos inserted few full-height walls. However, his plans never had the horizontal spatial interactions of Frank Lloyd Wright’s residential designs of the turn of the century.

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Adolf Loos Moller House

Loos: Longitudinal section through the Moller Hose, Vienna. In this section, Loos has begun to manipulate the floor heights and to cantilever floor plates. Rather than being stacked, the floors are spatial units displaced horizontally across one another.

 

 

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Adolf Loos Lido Villa

Loos: Section through the villa on the Lido, Venice, 1923. Here is the full development of Loos’s spatial ideas in section. Ceiling heights vary, and the two adjacent shafts of space have been slid vertically across one another.

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Frank Lloyd Wright Winslow House

Wright: Winslow House, River Forest, IL 1893. This is a case where Wright looked to Sullivan for inspiration. The ornamental frontispiece looked to such compositions as Sullivan’s Getty Tomb.

Photo by Michael Fazio.

 

 

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Frank Lloyd Wright Winslow House

Plan of the Winslow House. Wright often spoke of “breaking the box.” That process had begun here, where the front rooms are self-contained and axially connected, while the side and rear rooms project as a porte cochere and as semi-circular and semi-polygonal bays, and the terraces are defined by platforms and projecting walls.

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Frank Lloyd Wright Willits House

Wright: Plans and perspective of the Willits House, Highland Park, 1901. Ten years after the Charnley House, Wright had devised a new kind of residence. In it, the center is solidly anchored by a great hearth, and the rooms project out aggressively into space, covered by long, low, hovering roofs. His distinctive perspective drawing technique was influenced by an interest in Japanese prints.

 

 

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Frank Lloyd Wright Robie House

Wright: Robie House, Chicago, 1909. This is the most celebrated house from the first phase of Wright’s career. It is a “Prairie house” that acknowledges the horizontality of the Midwestern landscape.

Plans of the Robie House. The client owned a small lot on a busy street and had young children. Wright responded with a very compact plan. The front section for the family is very open, while the rear service section consists more conventional, self-contained rooms.

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Frank Lloyd Wright Larkin Building

Wright: Plan and perspective view of the Larkin Building, Buffalo, 1904. Unfortunately, the Larkin Building has long since been destroyed. Its innovations were many, including air- conditioning and built-in filing cabinets.

 

 

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Frank Lloyd Wright Larkin Building

Wright: Interior atrium of the Larkin Building. A comparison of this interior perspective shows the continuity between interior and exterior forms. Notice as well the Wright-designed furniture and light fixtures in this top-lit space surrounded by galleries.

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Frank Lloyd Wright Unity Temple

Wright: Unity Temple, Oak Park, 1906. It is remarkable to consider that this landmark work is almost 100 years old. Built for a congregation of modest means, its early use of poured-in-place concrete was an economy issue.

Plan of Unity Temple, Oak Park. To the left is the sanctuary. To the right is the Sunday School wing. Entry occurs between the two. Notice the way that Wright breaks away the corners from each volume.

 

 

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Frank Lloyd Wright Imperial Hotel

Wright: Plan of the Imperial Hotel, Tokyo, 1916-22. Wright’s tartan pattern of organization is as apparent at this large scale as in his smaller, fully developed residences. However, this building’s symmetry and dominant central space give it a kinship to Ecole des Beaux-Arts designs.

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Peter Behrens and the Deutscher Werkbund Behrens

Behrens: Poster design for AEG, 1908. AEG is the German equivalent of General Electric in the United States. The company hired Peter Behrens to improve the quality of its design work from buildings to graphics to manufactured products.

 

 

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Dutch and German Expressionism Goetheanum II

Steiner: Goetheanum II, Dornach, Germany, 1928. Rudolph Steiner developed a curriculum for what he called a “spiritual high school.” While not a trained architect, he designed a building in which he could put his educational philosophy into practice. Unfortunately, the first wooden Goetheanum was destroyed by fire. Steiner then produced this second concrete version as a fireproof replacement.

Photo by Michael Fazio.

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Dutch and German Expressionism Einstein Tower

Mendehlson: Einstein Tower, Potsdam, 1920-21.

Actually quite modest in size, the Einstein Tower possesses a monumentality befitting its function as a laboratory named for one of the twentieth century’s foremost scientists. Intended to be made of concrete, it was constructed of stucco over brick for reasons of economy.

 

 

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Futurism and Constructivism Power Station

Sant’Elia: Project for a Milan train station, 1913. Antonio Sant’Elia died young as a result of trauma suffered in World War I. His extraordinary perspective drawings made him the most visible exponent of Futurism.

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Futurism and Constructivism Citta Nuova

Sant’Elia: Detail from La Citta Nuova, 1914. Sant’Elia explored the possibilities of a dynamic city dominated by multiple means of transportation. Particularly dramatic here are the tall elevator towers connected to building flanks by leaping bridges.

 

 

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Futurism and Constructivism Workers’ Club

Melnikov: Russian Workers’ Club, Moscow, 1927-28.

Melnikov’s club not only demonstrates the kind of dramatic use of structure typical of the Constructivists; it also housed the kind of collective function made necessary by the Russian Revolution. However, within a few years, the progressive Constructivist mentality was replaced by the crushing control of Stalin.

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The Exploitation of Concrete Rue Franklin

Perret: 25 bis Rue Franklin, Paris, 1902. Perret’s clever design move was to replace the conventional Parisian interior light well with a U-shaped plan that increased the percentage of day-lit walls. He cast ornament into the building’s concrete skin.

Photo by Michael Fazio

 

 

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Le Corbusier Dom-ino System

Le Corbusier: Dom-ino House, 1914. With this system, Le Corbusier separated structure from enclosure. THz results were the free plan, with its flexible distribution of walls, and the free façade, which could take on any desired configuration.

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Le Corbusier Citrohan House

Le Corbusier: Citrohan House, 1922. This house’s name was a play on words taken from the Citroen automobile and connecting it to Le Corbusier’s conception of a “machine for living.” The largely blank lateral bearing walls show that it was really envisioned as one unit within a multi-unit block.

 

 

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Le Corbusier Villa Stein

Le Corbusier: Plan of the Villa Stein (Lower Stories), Garches, 1927. Here are the planning results of the dom-ino system in a suburban villa. The walls do not necessarily align with the column bays, and the perimeter wall can be penetrated at any point.

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Le Corbusier, Gropius and Mies van der Rohe Villa Stein

Le Corbusier: Plan of the Villa Stein (Upper Stories), Garches, 1927. Here are the planning results of the dom-ino system in a suburban villa. The walls do not necessarily align with the column bays, and the perimeter wall can be penetrated at any point.

 

 

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Le Corbusier Villa Savoye

Le Corbusier: Plan of and section through the Villa Savoye, Poissy, 1929-31. The three, free-plan floor layouts have almost no correspondence to one another. Continuity is provided by the columnar structural system and by the ramp, which the section shows to unify the spatial composition extension of the accomplishments of Adolf Loos.

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Le Corbusier, Gropius and Mies van der Rohe German Pavilion

Mies van der Rohe: Plan of the Barcelona Pavilion. Compare this pan to the early work of Frank Lloyd Wright or the dom-ino houses of Le Corbusier. All sought a new means of spatial expression, which was the most significant area of study among twentieth-century modernists.

 

 

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Gropius Fagus Factory

Gropius and Meyer: Fagus Shoe-Last Factory, Alfeld-an- der-Leine, 1911. Gropius and Meyer did not intend to create a style with their rigorously functional esthetic. However, the strips of steel-frame windows and related spandrels and flat roofs created a type used in the United States not only for factories but also for schools and even gas stations.Photo by Marian Moffett.

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Mies van der Rohe Tugendhat

Mies van der Rohe: Plan of the Tugendhat House, Brno, Czechoslovakia, 1930. Mies’s spatial experiments could be applied to day-to-day living conditions. The family space lies to the right in the plan and is only minimally subdivided. Much more enclosed service spaces are to the left.

 

 

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Art Deco and de Stigl Hook of Holland

Oud: Hook of Holland Housing, Rotterdam, 1924. The contrast between Oud’s housing and that of the Dutch Wendigen designers is almost shocking. Oud had made contact with members of the Dutch DeStijl movement and at the Hook of Holland Housing displayed their desire to emphasize space and de- emphasize applied ornament.

Photo by Marian Moffett.

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Art Deco and de Stigl Red/Blue Chair

Rietveld: Red-Blue Chair, 1917-18. This chair is still produced. Its construction from discrete elements explains Rietveld’s description of his work as “Elementarism.”

Photo by Michael Fazio.

 

 

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Art Deco and de Stigl Schroeder House

Rietveld: Schroeder House, Utrecht, Holland, 1923-1924. It is not hard to imagine the shock displayed by neighbors in their traditional brick houses when this unfamiliar composition appeared. It had been some 20 years since Adolf Loos first stripped a house of its applied ornamentation.

Photo by Marian Moffett.

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Weissenhof Seidlung & International Style Weissenhof Mies

Mies van der Rohe: Blocks of flats at the Weissenhof Siedlung, Stuttgart, Germany, 1927. Mies developed the site plan for this housing exposition and built this apartment block on the highest ground. Notice the mass-produced windows and pipe-rail balconies like those used 20 years earlier by Adolf Loos.

Photo by Michael Fazio.

 

 

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Weissenhof Seidlung & International Style Weissenhof Le Corbusier

Le Corbusier: Housing unit at the Weissenhof Siedlung, Stuttgart. Le Corbusier composed his housing unit using by-now-familiar elements: supporting columns or pilotis, an unornamented façade, horizontal strip windows, and a roof garden.

Photo by Marian Moffett.

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Art Deco and de Stigl Daily News

Hood: New York Daily News Building, New York City, 1929-30.

Contemporary with the Chrysler and Empire State buildings, the New York Daily News Building approaches International Style minimalism but displays incised decorative panels of Art Deco inspiration.

 

 

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Art Deco and de Stigl Empire State

Shreve, Lamb, and Harmon: Empire State Building, New York City, 1931.

This building would be famous even if the only popular image of it were King Kong batting at airplanes from its summit. Its Art Deco ornament includes the vast number of sand-blasted aluminum spandrel panels with their zigzag ornamentation.

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Later Works of Wright Johnson Wax

Wright: Plan of the Johnson Wax Company, Racine. The mushroom- shaped columns visible in the previous figure appear at the entry, located toward the bottom in this plan. These columns become taller as they are collected in the grid to the right of the plan and create the roof of the main office area.

 

 

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Later Works of Wright Johnson Wax

Wright: Plan and section through the research tower, Johnson Wax Company, Racine, WI, 1946-49. The word organic has long been applied to Wright’s architecture and its meaning debated. This tower’s similarity to a tree, with roots, trunk, and branches, is obvious. The enclosure system not shown in the section consists of pyrex tubing.

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Later Works of Wright Morris Gift Shop

Wright: Plan of the V. C. Morris Gift Shop, San Francisco. The circles in plan become spiraling ramps in three dimensions that enable customers to experience the space as a volume. Wright had developed other projects using spirals and would conclude his study of this form with his design for the Guggenheim Museum in New York City that follows.

 

 

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Later Works Le Corbusier Marseilles Unite

Le Corbusier: Plans and section through the Unite d’Habitation, Marseilles. The apartments are obviously very narrow, particularly when they are divided into hall-like bedrooms. The section shows that each unit has a two-story living space with an overlooking balcony.

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Later Works Le Corbusier Ronchamp

Le Corbusier: Axonometric view of Notre-Dame du Haut, Ronchamp, 1951- 55. Built as a pilgrimage site for worshipers, Ronchamp (near Belfort, France) has become as much a pilgrimage site for architects and architectural students. The tower lights an altar below. Services can be held inside or held outside on the concrete apron to the left.

 

 

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Later Works of Le Corbusier Ronchamp

Le Corbusier: Notre- Dame du Haut, Ronchamp. The chapel is built of brick covered with stucco. The random window openings contain glass decorated with Le Corbusier’s painted images. The principal entry lies between this wall and the tower, with a secondary entry in the rear between the two, smaller towers.

Photo by Marian Moffett.

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Later Works of Le Corbusier La Tourette

Le Corbusier: Plan of Ste-Marie-de-La Tourette, Eveux-sur- l’Arbresle, 1956-60. Le Corbusier transformed the traditional monastic plan. Ramps and a small chapel inhabit the traditional interior cloister, with its functions moved to the roof. This arrangement was never found acceptable by the monks who chose to meditated in the wooded areas nearby.

 

 

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Later Works of Le Corbusier Chandigarh

Le Corbusier: Plan of Chandigarh, Punjab, India, 1951-59. This master plan illustrates Le Corbusier’s preference for large buildings set wide apart within a garden-like landscape. From left to right, the buildings are the Secretariat, the Legislative Assembly Building, the unbuilt Palace of the Governor, and the High Court.

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Later Works of Mies Farnsworth House

Mies van der Rohe: Farnsworth House, Plano, Illinois, 1950-52. Whatever the complaints about Mies’s reductivism, the formal results are elegant, almost timeless. In fact, the Farnsworth House can be interpreted as a classical temple, its stylobate or base slid forward to create an arrival sequence.Photo by Lawrence Wodehouse.

 

 

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Later Works of Mies Seagram Building

Mies van der Rohe: Seagram Building, New York City, 1956-58.

There is no more celebrated Miesian skyscraper than this one. Unlike Crown Hall and the Farnsworth House, this high-rise structure was required by building codes to have all of its steel structure covered with fireproofing. The steel frame expressed on the outside is redundant structurally.

Twentieth Century

Twentieth Century