Archive for the 'Modern Architecture' Category


Walter Gropius

Walter Adolph Georg Gropius (May 18, 1883 – July 5, 1969) was a German architect and founder of the Bauhaus School who, along with Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Le Corbusier, is widely regarded as one of the pioneering masters of modern architecture.

Walter Gropius, like his father and his great-uncle Martin Gropius before him, became an architect. Gropius could not draw, and was dependent on collaborators and partner-interpreters throughout his career. In school he hired an assistant to complete his homework for him. In 1908 Gropius found employment with the firm of Peter Behrens, one of the first members of the utilitarian school. His fellow employees at this time included Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier, and Dietrich Marcks.

In 1910 Gropius left the firm of Behrens and together with fellow employee Adolf Meyer established a practice in Berlin. Together they share credit for one of the seminal modernist buildings created during this period: the Faguswerk in Alfeld-an-der-Leine, Germany, a shoe last factory. Although Gropius and Meyer only designed the facade, the glass curtain walls of this building demonstrated both the modernist principle that form reflects function and Gropius’s concern with providing healthful conditions for the working class. Other works of this early period include the office and factory building for the Werkbund Exhibition (1914) in Cologne.

In 1913, Gropius published an article about “The Development of Industrial Buildings,” which included about a dozen photographs of factories and grain elevators in North America. A very influential text, this article had a strong influence on other European modernists, including Le Corbusier and Erich Mendelsohn, both of whom reprinted Gropius’s grain elevator pictures between 1920 and 1930.

Gropius’s career was interrupted by the outbreak of World War I in 1914. Called up immediately as a reservist, Gropius served as a sergeant major at the Western front during the war years, and was wounded and almost killed.

Important buildings

Gropius House (1938) in Lincoln, Massachusetts1910–1911 the Fagus Factory, Alfeld an der Leine, Germany
1914 Office and Factory Buildings at the Werkbund Exhibition, 1914, Cologne, Germany
1921 Sommerfeld House, Berlin, Germany designed for Adolf Sommerfeld
1922 competition entry for the Chicago Tribune Tower competition
1925–1932 Bauhaus School and Faculty, Housin, Dessau, Germany
1936 Village College, Impington, Cambridge, England
1937 The Gropius House, Lincoln, Massachusetts, USA
1942–1944 Aluminum City Terrace housing project, New Kensington, Pennsylvania, USA
1949–1950 Harvard Graduate Center, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA (The Architects’ Collaborative)
1945–1959 Michael Reese Hospital, Chicago, Illinois, USA – Master planned 37-acre site and led the design for at least 8 of the approx. 28 buildings.
1957–1960 University of Baghdad, Baghdad, Iraq
1963–1966 John F. Kennedy Federal Office Building, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
1948 Peter Thacher Junior High School,
1958–1963 Pan Am Building (now the Metlife Building), New York, with Pietro Belluschi and project architects Emery Roth & Sons
1957 Interbau Apartment blocks, Hansaviertel, Berlin, Germany, with The Architects’ Collaborative and Wils Ebert
1960 Temple Oheb Shalom (Baltimore, Maryland)
1961 The award-winning Wayland High School, Wayland, Massachusetts, USA
1959–1961 Embassy of the United States, Athens, Greece (The Architects’ Collaborative and consulting architect Pericles A. Sakellarios)
1967– 69 Tower East Shaker Heights, Ohio, this was Gropius’ last major project.
The building in Niederkirchnerstraße, Berlin, known as the Gropius-Haus is named for Gropius’ great-uncle, Martin Gropius, and is not associated with Bauhaus


Oscar Niemeyer

Oscar Ribeiro de Almeida Niemeyer Soares Filho (born December 15, 1907) is a Brazilian architect who is considered one of the most important names in international modern architecture. He was a pioneer in exploring the formal possibilities of reinforced concrete solely for their aesthetic impact.

His buildings are often characterized by being spacious and exposed, mixing volumes and empty space to create unconventional patterns and often propped up by pilotis. Both lauded and criticized for being a “sculptor of monuments” , he has been praised for being a great artist and one of the greatest architects of his generation by his supporters. Among his numerous famous works there are the many public buildings he designed for the city of Brasília, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, The United Nations Headquarters in New York City (with others), etc.

“ Not the straight angle that attracts me, nor straight, hard, inflexible, created by man. What attracts me is the free and sensual curve, the curves that find in the mountains of my country, in the course of its winding rivers, the sea waves, the body of the woman preferred. Curves is done throughout the universe, the universe of Einstein’s curved.

Oscar Niemeyer was born in the city of Rio de Janeiro in 1907 in Laranjeiras neighbourhood, on a street that later would receive the name of his grandfather Ribeiro de Almeida. He spent his youth as a typical young Carioca of the time: bohemian and relatively unconcerned with his future. He concluded his secondary education at age 21. The same year, he married Annita Baldo, daughter of Italian immigrants from Padua. Marriage gave him a sense of responsibility: he decided to work and enter university.

He started to work in his father’s typography house and entered the Escola de Belas Artes (Brazil), from which he graduated as engineer architect in 1934. At the time he had financial difficulties but decided to work without fee anyway, in the architecture studio of Lúcio Costa and Carlos Leão. He felt dissatisfied with the architecture that he saw in the streets and believed he could find a career there.

In 1945, already an architect of some repute, he joined the Brazilian Communist Party, and in 1992 he would become president of that party. Niemeyer was a boy at the time of the Russian Revolution of 1917, and by the Second World War he became a young idealist. He is still an enthusiastic communist, a position which cost him much during his life. During the military dictatorship of Brazil his office was raided and he was forced into exile in Europe. The Minister of Aeronautics of the time reportedly said that “the place for a communist architect is Moscow.” He visited the USSR, met with diverse socialist leaders and became a personal friend of some of them. Fidel Castro once said: “Niemeyer and I are the last Communists of this planet.”


Museum of Islamic Art

DOHA, Qatar — There is nothing timid about the ambitions of the new Museum of Islamic Art that opens here next week. Rising on its own island just off the city’s newly developed esplanade, it is the centerpiece of an enormous effort to transform Qatar into an arts destination. The inaugural festivities Saturday, including a performance by the cellist Yo-Yo Ma, attracted art world luminaries from around the globe.

Viewed under the light of a spectacular fireworks display, the museum’s colossal geometric form harks back to a time when Islamic art and architecture were at the nexus of world culture. At the same time, it conveys a hope of reconnecting again.

The building seems austere by the standards of the attention-grabbing forms that we have come to associate with Gulf cities like Dubai or Abu Dhabi. Designed by I.M. Pei, 91, who has said it is his last major cultural building, it recalls a time when architectural expression was both more earnest and optimistic, and the rift between modernity and tradition had yet to reach full pitch.

The museum, which houses manuscripts, textiles, ceramics and other works assembled mostly over the last 20 years, has emerged as one of the world’s most encyclopedic collections of Islamic art. The origin of its artifacts ranges from Spain to Egypt to Iran, Iraq, Turkey, India and Central Asia.

Among the exquisite works on view at the opening were a bronze Andalusian fountainhead in the form of a doe with a heart-shaped mouth and an ornate spherical brass plate from Persia or Mesopotamia that was used to measure the position of the stars. (Both date from the 10th century.)

Taking his cue from the diversity of the collections, Pei sought to create a structure that would embody the “essence of Islamic architecture.”

He spent months traveling across the Middle East searching for inspiration. He visited the ninth-century Ahmad ibn Tulun Mosque in Cairo, a sober structure organized around a central court with a temple-like central fountain, as well as ancient fortresses in Tunisia.

“Islam was one religion I did not know,” Pei said in an interview. “So I studied the life of Muhammad. I went to Egypt and Tunisia. I became very interested in the architecture of defense, in fortifications. It is a very important piece of Islamic architecture.”

“The architecture is very strong and simple,” he added. “There is nothing superfluous.”

The result is a structure whose imposing simplicity is brought to life by the play of light and shadow under the Gulf’s blazing sun. Pei visited several proposed sites in Doha before settling on the site just off the end of the seafront esplanade.

Worried that his building might one day be hemmed in by new construction, he asked Qatar’s emir, Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, chairman of the museum’s board of trustees, to build him a private island so that his monument would be isolated from the rest of the city.

“I worried a lot about what will come after,” Pei said. “Even a beautiful piece of work can be overshadowed, destroyed by something else.”

For now, “Doha in many ways is virginal,” he said. “There is no real context there, no real life unless you go into the souk. I had to create my own context. It was very selfish.”

The result is a powerful Cubist composition of square and octagonal blocks stacked atop one another and culminating in a central tower. A row of giant palm trees leads to the island. Inside, 3,800 square meters, or 41,000 square feet, of galleries are organized around a towering atrium capped by a dome, with a narrow beam of light descending from its central oculus.

Seen from across the waters of the harbor, its massive sand-colored stone blocks have an ageless quality, like the Tunisian fortresses it is modeled after.

“The museum is an object,” Pei said. “It should be treated as a piece of sculpture.”


Architectural Styles

Architectural styles classify architecture in terms of form, techniques, materials, time period, region, etc. It overlaps with, and emerges from the study of the evolution and history of architecture. In architectural history, the study of Gothic architecture, for instance, would include all aspects of the cultural context that went into the design and construction of these structures. Architectural style is a way of classifying architecture that gives emphasis to characteristic features of design, leading to a terminology such as Gothic “style”.

The Victoria and Albert Museum maintains an interactive online microsite with an introductory overview[1] of ten architectural styles grouped in four clusters:

Modern, High-Tech and Postmodern
East Asian, South Asian and Spanish Islamic
Gothic and Gothic Revival
Classical and Classical Revival.

Style Timeline
Neolithic architecture 10,000 BC-3000 BC
Sumerian architecture 5300 BC-2000 BC
Phoenician architecture 3,000 BC-500 AD
Ancient Egyptian architecture 3000 BC-373 AD
Classical architecture 600 BC-323 AD
Ancient Greek architecture 776 BC-265 BC
Roman architecture 753 BC–663 AD
Herodian architecture 37 BC-4 BC Judea
Architecture of Armenia (IVe s – XVIe s)
Merovingian architecture 400s-700s France and Germany
Anglo-Saxon architecture 450s-1066 England and Wales
Byzantine architecture 527 (Sofia)-1520
Islamic Architecture 691-present
Moorish architecture c.700s-1492 Western Europe, Northern Africa
Iranian architecture, c.700s-present Persia
Ottoman architecture c.1300-1918 Turkey
Pre-Romanesque architecture c.700-1000 Western Europe
Carolingian architecture 780s-800s France and Germany
Repoblación architecture 880s-1000s Spain
Ottonian architecture 950s-1050s Germany
Russian architecture 989-1700s
Romanesque architecture 1000-1300
Norman architecture 1074-1250
Gothic architecture
Early English Period c.1190—c.1250
Decorated Period c.1290–c.1350
Perpendicular Period c.1350–c.1550
Rayonnant Gothic 1240-c.1350, France, Germany, Central Europe
Flamboyant Gothic 1400-1500, Spain, France, Portugal
Brick Gothic c.1350–c.1400
Isabelline Gothic 1474-1505 (reign) Spain
Manueline 1495-1521 (reign) Portugal & colonies
Mudéjar Style c.1300-1600s Spain
Renaissance architecture c.1425-1600 Western Europe, American colonies
Tudor style architecture 1485–1603
Spanish Colonial style 1520s–c.1550
Herrerian 1550-1650 Spain & colonies
Plateresque c.1490-1600 Spain & colonies, Low Countries,
Palladian architecture 1516-1580
Dutch Colonial 1615-1674 (Treaty of Westminster) New England
Chilota architecture 1600–present Chiloé and southern Chile
Baroque architecture c.1600-1750 Western Europe, the Americas
Churrigueresque, 1660s-1750s. Spain and the New World
English Baroque 1666 (Great Fire)–1713 (Treaty of Utrecht)
Spanish Baroque c.1600-1760
Bethazahel Baroque 1669 (reign) – 1723
Sicilian Baroque 1693 earthquake–c.1745
Ukrainian Baroque late 1600-1800s
French Baroque c.1650-1789
Dutch Baroque architecture c.1650-1700
Rococo c.1720-1789 France, Germany, Spain, Italy
Ukrainian Baroque late 1600-1800s
Neoclassical architecture c.1715-1820
Georgian architecture 1720-1840s UK & USA
American colonial architecture 1720-1780s USA
Pombaline style 1755 earthquake-c.1860 Portugal
Adam style 1770 UK
Federal architecture 1780-1830 USA
Empire (style) 1804-1814, 1870 revival
Neo-palladian architecture:
Jeffersonian architecture 1790s-1830s Virginia, USA
American Empire (style) 1810
Gothic Revival architecture 1760s–today
Jeffersonian architecture 1790s-1830s Virginia, USA
Florida cracker architecture c.1800–present Florida, USA
Italianate 1802
Egyptian Revival architecture 1809–1820s, 1840s, 1920s
Biedermeier 1815–1848
Russian Revival 1826-1917, 1990s-present
Tudorbethan architecture 1835–1885
Victorian architecture 1837 and 1901 UK
See also San Francisco architecture
Jacobethan 1838
Carpenter Gothic USA and Canada 1840s on
Queenslander (architecture) 1840s–1960s
Australian architectural styles
Romanesque Revival architecture 1840–1900 USA
Neo-Manueline 1840s-1910s Portugal & Brazil
Neo-Mudéjar 1880s-1920s Spain, Portugal, Bosnia, California
Neo-Grec 1848 and 1865
Adirondack Architecture 1850s New York, USA
Bristol Byzantine 1850-1880
Second Empire 1865 and 1880
Queen Anne Style architecture 1870–1910s England & USA
Stick Style 1879-1905 New England
Eastlake Style 1879-1905 New England
Shingle Style 1879-1905 New England
National Park Service Rustic 1872–present USA
Chicago school (architecture) 1880s and 1890 USA
Canadian Chateau 1880s-1920s, Canada
Neo-Byzantine architecture 1882–1920s American
Art Nouveau/Jugendstil c. 1885–1910
Modernisme 1888-1911 Catalonian Art Nouveau
Vienna Secession 1897-c. 1905 Austrian Art Nouveau
American Craftsman 1890s–1930 USA, California & east
Richardsonian Romanesque 1880s USA
City Beautiful movement 1890–1900s USA
Colonial Revival architecture 1890s–1915
Dutch Colonial Revival c.1900 New England
Mission Revival Style architecture 1894-1936
American Foursquare mid. 1890s-late 1930s USA
Functionalism c.1900-1930s Europe & USA
Danish Functionalism 1960s Denmark
Pueblo style 1898-1990s
Edwardian Era 1901-1910 Uk
Prairie Style 1900–1917 USA
Heliopolis style 1905–c.1935 Egypt
Futurist architecture 1909 Europe
Expressionist architecture 1910–c.1924
Amsterdam School 1912–1924 Netherlands
Spanish Colonial Revival style 1915–1940 USA
Bauhaus 1919–1930s
Mediterranean Revival Style 1920s–1930s USA
Art Deco 1925–1940s Europe & USA
List of Art Deco architecture
Constructivism 1925–1932 USSR
Modern movement 1927–1960s
International style (architecture) 1930–present Europe & USA
Postconstructivism 1930–1935 USSR
Streamline Moderne 1930–1937
Nazi architecture 1933-1944 Germany
Stalinist architecture 1933–1955 USSR
Usonian 1936–1940s USA
Soft Portuguese style 1940-1955 Portugal & colonies
Ranch-style 1940s-1970s USA
New towns 1946-1968 United Kingdom
Mid-century modern 1950s California, etc.
Googie architecture 1950s USA
Brutalist architecture 1950s–1970s
Structuralism (architecture) 1950s-1970s
Metabolist Movement 1959 Japan
Arcology 1970s-present
Structural Expressionism 1980s-present
Postmodern architecture 1980s
Deconstructivism 1982–present
Memphis Group 1981-1988
Blobitecture 2003–present
Interactive architecture 2000–present

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Harry Weese

Harry Mohr Weese (June 30, 1915 – October 29, 1998) was an American architect, who was born in Evanston, Illinois in the Chicago suburbs who had an important role in 20th century modernism and historic preservation. His brother, Ben Weese, is also a renowned architect.

Harry Weese studied under Finnish architect, Alvar Aalto at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, graduating in 1938, and went on to study city planning while on a fellowship at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan. Weese was also influenced by Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen, whom he met at Cranbrook. He built primarily in the modern architectural style, but integrated other styles as he felt appropriate for the project. Out of Cranbrook, Weese joined the major architectural and engineering firm, Skidmore, Owings and Merrill. During World War II, Weese served as an engineer on a U.S. Navy destroyer, and 1947, he started his own architectural firm. Weese is also well known for his firm advocacy of historic preservation and was remembered as the architect who “shaped Chicago’s skyline and the way the city thought about everything from the lakefront to its treasure-trove of historical buildings.”
Weese also served as a judge for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial design competition.

Other well known works include:

The United States Embassy Building in Accra, Ghana.
Arena Stage, Washington, D.C..
Time-Life Building, Chicago, Illinois.
First Baptist Church, in Columbus, Indiana.
Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist in Chicago, Illinois.
The Marcus Center for the Performing Arts in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
The Humanities Building at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, widely considered one the Midwest’s best examples of brutalist architecture but slated for demolition soon.
The Chazen Museum of Art at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, formerly known as the Elvehjem Museum of Art.
Mercantile Bank, Kansas City, Missouri.
Westin Crown Center Hotel, Kansas City, Missouri.
The former U.S. Embassy to Ghana in Accra.
Fulton House at 345 N. Canal Street in Chicago. Converted 19th century 16-story cold-storage warehouse building to condominium building.
River Cottages at 357-365 N. Canal Street in Chicago. Sloped, structurally expressive facade responds to the angle and cross bracing of the railroad bridge directly across the river.
William J. Campbell United States Courthouse Annex in downtown Chicago (formerly known as the Metropolitan Correctional Center, Chicago.) Federal temporary holding prison which has no window bars, instead each cell is provided with a vertical 5″ slot window. Weese was mandated to follow then new federal prison architectural guidelines, like cells having no bars and by original design each prisoner had his own room.
Middletown City Building, Middletown, Ohio.
Sterling Morton Library, The Morton Arboretum.
O’Brian Hall at the State University of New York at Buffalo
The Healey Library at the University of Massachusetts Boston

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I.M. Pei

Ieoh Ming Pei (貝聿銘) (born April 26, 1917), commonly known by his initials I. M. Pei, is a Chinese architect. Although he refuses to apply labels to his own work, he is considered a master of modern architecture. Born in Guangzhou and raised in Hong Kong and Shanghai, Pei drew artistic inspiration at an early age from the gardens at Suzhou. He was fascinated by movies from the United States, especially those of Buster Keaton and Bing Crosby, and taught himself English by reading the Bible and novels by Charles Dickens.

In 1935, Pei moved to the United States and enrolled in the architecture school at the University of Pennsylvania, but quickly transferred to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was unhappy with the focus on Beaux-Arts architecture, and spent his free time researching the emerging masters of modern architecture, especially Le Corbusier. After graduating, he joined the Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD) and became friends with the Bauhaus architects Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer. In 1942, he married Eileen Loo, who had introduced him to the GSD community. They have been married for over fifty years, and have four children (two of whom also became architects).

Pei spent ten years working with New York real estate magnate William Zeckendorf before establishing his own independent design firm. Originally called I. M. Pei & Associates, the firm evolved over many years to its current incarnation as Pei Cobb Freed & Partners. Among the early projects on which Pei took the lead were the L’Enfant Plaza Hotel in Washington, DC and the Green Building at MIT. He created his first widely recognized signature building when he designed the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado. The recognition from this project led to his selection for the John F. Kennedy Library in Massachusetts. He went on to design Dallas City Hall and the East Building of the National Gallery of Art.

He returned to China for the first time in 1974, and agreed to design a hotel at Fragrant Hills. The project became something of a disaster for Pei, but he returned to East Asia again fifteen years later to design a skyscraper in Hong Kong for the Bank of China. In the early 1980s, Pei was the focus of a huge controversy when he designed a glass-and-steel pyramid for the Louvre museum in Paris. Critical and public opinion eventually turned in Pei’s favor, but the experience was difficult for the architects and project coordinators. Pei later returned to the world of the arts by designing the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas, the Miho Museum in Japan, and the Museum of Islamic Art in Qatar.

Pei has won a wide variety of prizes and awards in the field of architecture, including the AIA Gold Medal in 1979, the first Praemium Imperiale for Architecture in 1989, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum in 2003. In 1983 he won the Pritzker Prize, sometimes called the Nobel Prize of architecture. In its citation, the jury wrote: “Ieoh Ming Pei has given this century some of its most beautiful interior spaces and exterior forms…. His versatility and skill in the use of materials approach the level of poetry.”

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Eugene Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc

Eugène Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc (January 27, 1814 – September 17, 1879) was a French architect and theorist, famous for his “restorations” of medieval buildings. Born in Paris, he was as central a figure in the Gothic Revival in France as he was in the public discourse on “honesty” in architecture, which eventually transcended all revival styles, to inform the emerging spirit of Modernism.

In the early 1830s, the beginnings of a movement for the restoration of medieval buildings appeared in France. Viollet-le-Duc, returning in 1835 from a study trip to Italy, was commissioned by Prosper Merimée to restore the Romanesque abbey of Vézelay. This work marked the beginning of a long series of restorations; Viollet-le-Duc’s restorations at Notre Dame de Paris brought him national attention. His other main works include Mont St-Michel, Carcassonne, Roquetaillade castle and Pierrefonds.

Viollet-le-Duc’s “restorations” frequently combined historical fact with creative modification. For example, under his supervision, Notre Dame was not only cleaned and restored but also “updated,” gaining its distinctive third tower (a type of flèche) in addition to other smaller changes. Another of his most famous restorations, the medieval fortified town of Carcassonne, was similarly enhanced.

At the same time, in the cultural atmosphere of the Second Empire theory necessarily became diluted in practice, and messages were mixed: Viollet-le-Duc provided a Gothic reliquary for the relic of the Crown of Thorns at Notre-Dame in 1862, and yet Napoleon III also commissioned designs for a luxuriously appointed railway carriage from Viollet-le-Duc, in 14th-century Gothic style (Exhibition 1965).

Among his restorations were:

Churches :
Sainte-Marie-Madeleine, Vézelay
St.Martin, Clamecy (Nievre)
Notre-Dame de Paris
Sainte-Chapelle, in Paris (under Felix Duban)
Saint Denis Basilica, near Paris
Saint-Louis, in Poissy, France
Saint-Nazaire, in Carcassonne, France
Saint-Sernin, in Toulouse, France
Notre-Dame de Lausanne, Switzerland
Town Halls :

Castles :
Roquetaillade, in Bordeaux
Fortified city of Carcassonne
Château de Coucy
Antoing in Belgium
Château de Vincennes, Paris

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