Term Paper: Architecture the Advent of Modernity

Pages: 5 (1406 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Architecture  ·  Buy This Paper

SAMPLE EXCERPT:

[. . .] Their idealism and rationalism led to creating new factories and apartments that were designed more for comfortable living and working conditions rather than for purely aesthetic concerns.

For the members of the Bauhaus School, this translated to structures composed of flat-roofed blocks. Manufacturing industries were ready sources of cheaper glass, which the Bauhaus architects fashioned into curtain glass walls (Kuipers). Elements such as shape and glass walls were often the only adornments, in contrast to the elaborate facades of more classical architectural structures.

Other inventions and materials further fueled the functionalist ethic. The availability of steel and concrete as well as the invention of the elevator led Chicago architects to design taller buildings. The need to reconstruct the city after the devastating fire in 1871 also gave rise to a construction boom, as more office spaces were needed to reflect Chicago's status as the economic center of the American Midwest. Architects responded with the development of the skyscraper.

In addition to new technologies and changing social needs, many modern architects sought to combine the availability of materials and technology and the emphasis on function with their love for nature and democratic ideals.

Frank Lloyd Write, for example, believed in using native materials, and wanted his buildings to grow naturally from their surroundings. Buildings were supposed to be in harmony with nature, not massive disturbances. He also believed in designing homes that the growing middle class could afford.

To address this, he began designing the Usonian houses during the 1930s. Write moved away from traditional square spaces by designing the Usonian house around an L-shaped floor plan. This plan functioned to separate the living space from the quieter bedroom, which was situated at the other leg of the grid. To keep costs down, the floor was constructed out of concrete blocks, in a square grid of 4 by 4 feet for faster construction. Pipes ran below the floor, serving the dual purpose of carrying hot water while providing radiant heat (Larkin 143).

New concerns

In keeping with its lively history, modern architecture is far from static and continues to grow. The recognition of concerns such as pollution and the effects of buildings and construction on the environment have led to a new orientation in modern architecture.

While classical modernism concentrated on new technologies, the oil shortages in the 1970s highlighted the need for "sustainable" buildings that were less dependent on fossil fuels. This in turn gave rise of a new generation of architects who are concerned about the environment and who advocate the use of environmentally-friendly techniques and construction material (Lacayo).

The SmithGroup's Philip Merrill Environmental Center in Annapolis, Maryland, for example, uses more wood construction than is typical for large buildings. It also generates one-third of its energy needs from geothermal heat pumps and solar building panels. Its sunscreen overhangs are made from recycled pickle barrels. Its bamboo flooring and timber were harvested from sustainable forests (Lacayo).

Other modern architects are also evaluating building techniques and materials from a more sinister perspective. Architecture researcher Peter Cannon-Brookes points out that glass and steel-framed structures have served modern architecture well by enclosing large spaces at low costs. Glass and steel are also inexpensive materials that can be used to great effect depending on their translucence and opaqueness. However, the same materials are easily breakable, as demonstrated by the attacks on the World Trade Center and the earlier bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Center in Oklahoma City. Cannon-Brookes thus challenges new architects to devise ways of addressing these concerns before emergencies start (Cannon-Brookes).

In conclusion, the history of modern architecture is defined by its response to a host of human and social needs. By taking advantage of new materials and technologies, modern architects have created new structures to address the commercial needs of an industrializing world, as well as the housing needs of a growing middle class.

How architecture will respond to new environmental and security concerns, however, remains to be seen.

Works Cited

Cannon-Brookes, Peter. "Modern architecture, modern materials and modern technology." European Business Review. 14(3). Proquest Database.

Kuipers, Marieke. "The modern movement." The Unesco Courier. September 1997. Proquest Database.

Lacayo, Richard. "Buildings that breathe." Time Magazine. August 26, 2002. Proquest… [END OF PREVIEW]

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