The groundbreaking Chicago school of architecture was founded by William Le Baron Jenney (1832-1907), along with a number of other innovative American architects. A centre of high-rise development rather than a school per se, it had no unified set of principles, and buildings created by the members of the school employed many different designs, construction techniques and materials. Some key characteristics of Chicago architecture during this period included: new foundation techniques pioneered by Dankmar Adler; metal skeleton frames - first used in Jenney's Home Insurance Building (1884); the use of steel and iron, first highlighted by the French architect Viollet-le-Duc, and used by Louis Sullivan and others.
Famous Chicago School Firms of Architects
William Holabird (1854-1923)
and Martin Roche (1853-1927)
Daniel Hudson Burnham (1846-1912)
and John Wellborn Root (1850-91)
Dankmar Adler (1844-1900) and
Louis Sullivan (1856-1924)
A decorative style of architecture characterized by flowing lines, and abstract floral motifs, which was closely associated with the Arts and Crafts movement championed by William Morris (1834-96). Known in Germany as Jugendstil - it was applied to both the exterior and interior design of buildings. Interiors were often lavishly decorated with various types of applied art - including stained glass and ceramics.
Famous Art Nouveau Architects
Ever since Italian Renaissance architects revived the proportions and orders of Roman architecture, designers have turned to the past for inspiration. Such revivalism reached its apogee in 19th century architecture, in numerous Romanesque (1000-1150), Gothic (1150-1300) and Beaux-Arts structures in Britain - see for instance Victorian architecture - Europe and the United States, but the process continued into the 20th century.
Famous 20th Century Revivalist Buildings
"Gothic" Sagrada Familia
(1883-1926) by Antoni Guardi.
Note: For biographies of 19th century architects
associated with Revivalist architecture, see:
Steel-frame high-rise architecture was pioneered in the 19th century by American architects in New York and Chicago: two cities which were experiencing rapid development but whose available space was limited. With the fall in the price of steel - a major construction material for high-rise structures - building upwards suddenly became much more economically attractive. During the first three decades of the 20th century, New York took the lead with a number of cutting-edge skyscrapers.
Famous New York Skyscrapers
- Park Row Building NYC, (18991901)
by Robert Henderson Robertson.
"Modernist architecture", the first real example of 20th century architecture, was designed for "modern man". It was relatively, if not wholly, devoid of historical associations, and made full use of the latest building techniques and materials, including iron, steel, glass and concrete. Functionality was a key aspect of the modernist style. The format was later fully realized in the United States: see, for instance, Henry Ford's assembly plant at Rouge River, south of Detroit - then the largest manufacturing plant in the world.
Famous Early Modernist Architects
Lloyd Wright (1867-1959)
This architectural style emerged in Germany and the Low Countries. Expressionist architects rebelled against the functionalist industrial-style structures of modernist architecture, preferring more sinuous or highly articulated forms. These included curves, spirals and non-symmetrical elements, as well as structures in which the expressive values of certain materials are emphasized. A contemporary example of expressionist architecture is the Sydney Opera House (1973), designed by Jorn Utzon (1918-2008).
Famous Expressionist Architects
Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925)
One of the European avant-garde art groups that had a significant influence on the development of modernist architecture, was the Dutch-based group known as De Stijl, founded in Leiden in 1917 by Theo van Doesburg (1883-1931), its active members included the abstract painter Piet Mondrian (1872-1944), as well as a number of architects, designers, painters and sculptors. Influenced by Concrete art and Cubism, as well as radical left-wing politics, its main objective was to establish a compositional methodology applicable to both fine and decorative art. De Stijl designs are characterized by austere geometrical shapes, right-angles, and primary colours.
Famous De Stijl Architects
Robert van 't Hoff (1887-1979)
Gerrit Rietveld (1888-1964)
J.J.P. Oud (18901963)
One response to the European post-war housing crisis in the 1920s was a series of minimal cost social housing projects developed in several major urban centres. On the Continent, these took the form of large-scale apartment blocks.
Famous Examples of Social Housing
Eigen Haard Estate, Amsterdam (1920)
designed by Michel de Klerk (1884-1923).
The Bauhaus design school was a hugely influential centre of inter-war modernist architecture. Its design ethos was propagated by several key members of its teaching staff who emigrated to the United States during the 1930s. Combining ideas from Russian Constructivism movement, the Dutch De Stijl group, and the American architect Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959), as well as an attitude to crafts modelled on the Arts & Crafts movement and the Deutscher Werkbund, Bauhaus design - with its clean lines and deliberate absence of ornamentation - eventually developed into the International Style of modern architecture, and later spread to the United States, where it was developed by Walter Gropius, Mies van der Rohe, and other European emigrants like Richard Neutra.
Bauhaus Style Architects
Art Deco was influenced by a combination of sources, including the geometrics of Cubism, the "movement" of Futurism, as well as elements of ancient art, such as Pre-Columbian and Egyptian art. Its architecture was also inspired by the ziggurat designs of Mesopotamian art. Art Deco, like Art Nouveau, embraced all types of art, but unlike its predecessor, it was purely decorative, with no theoretical or political agenda.
Art Deco Buildings
- Chanin Building, NYC (1927-9) by Sloan
Architectural design under dictators like Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin and Chairman Mao was designed to awe their political subjects and impress foreign vistors. Buildings therefore had to be conceived and built on a gargantuan scale, and often incorporated elements of Greek architecture. Above all, Totalitarian architecture embodied the fantasies and megalomania of the political leader.
Examples of Totalitarian Architectural Design
City University, Rome (1935) by
The International Style first appeared in Germany, Holland and France, during the 1920s, before being introduced into American architecture in the 1930s, where it became the dominant fashion during the major post-war urban development phase (1955-1970). Predominantly used for "corporate office blocks" - despite the efforts of Richard Neutra, William Lescaze, Edward Durrell Stone and others, to apply it to residential buildings - it was ideal for skyscraper architecture, because of its sleek "modern" look, and use of steel and glass. The International style was championed by American designers like Philip Johnson (1906-2005) and, in particular, by the Second Chicago School of Architecture, led by the dynamic emigrant ex-Bauhaus architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886-1969).
Famous International Style Buildings
- Lake Shore Drive Apartments, Chicago
(1948-51) by Mies van der Rohe.
Rooted in the avant-garde structures of the 19th century, like the Eiffel Tower and Cystal Palace, hi-tech architecture is based on the expressive qualities of cutting-edge technologies and materials. As demonstrated by James Stirling (1926-92) - see his glass structure of the Engineering Faculty, Leceister University (1959-63) - traditional construction methods (like brickwork) are abandoned in favour of new materials and techniques, such as steel, light metal panels, glass, and plastic derivatives. New building shapes are determined by the shape of the components used. An important exhibition which affirmed this new approach was Expo 67, held in Montreal. Hi-tech architecture is symbolized by the Pompidou Centre in Paris, designed by Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers in collaboration with engineers Ove Arup & Partners.
Famous High-Tech Buildings
USA Pavilion (Expo 67, Montreal)
by Buckminster Fuller.
An iconic style of three-dimensional postmodernist art, opposed to the ordered rationality of modern design, Deconstructivism emerged in the 1980s, notably in Los Angeles California, but also in Europe. Characterized by non-rectilinear shapes which distort the geometry of the structure, the finished appearance of deconstructivist buildings is typically unpredictable and even shocking. These unusual shapes have been facilitated by the use of design software developed from the aerospace industry. The exhibition which first introduced this new approach to the public was the Deconstructivist Architecture exhibition, curated by Philip Johnson and Mark Wigley, and held at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1988. the most famous deconstructivist designer in America is probably Frank O. Gehry (b.1929); in Europe the top architects are probably Daniel Libeskind (b.1946), and the firm Coop Himmelblau, founded by Wolf Prix, Helmut Swiczinsky and Michael Holzer.
Famous Examples of Deconstructivism
- Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles
(1988-2003) by Frank O Gehry.
A style of postmodernist architecture characterized by organic, rounded, bulging shapes, Blobitecture (aka blobism or blobismus) was first christened by William Safire in the New York Times in 2002 (although architect Greg Lynn used the term "blob architecture" in 1995) the style first appeared in the early 1990s. Developed by postmodernist artists on both sides of the Atlantic, the construction of blobitecture's non-geometric structures is heavily dependent on the use of CATID software (Computer Aided Three-dimensional Interactive Application).
Famous Examples of Blobitecture
Water Pavilion (19931997)
by Lars Spuybroek and Kas Oosterhuis.
Structural techniques developed by US architects like Fazlur Khan (1929-82) of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, have led to the construction of a new generation of supertall buildings or 'towers'. These new tubular designs, which have also significantly reduced the amount of steel required in skyscrapers, have enabled architects to break free from the regular "box-like" design. With modern towers now regularly exceeding 100 storeys, the biggest limitation on upward growth remains safety and the lack of emergency evacuation procedures.
Tallest Towers Built in the 20th-Century
(1) Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
(1998) (452m/ 1,483 feet)
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