Friday, April 1, 2011

RR 11: A Key to Our Future of Design

Using original architectural concepts as a key to the future

The middle of the 19th century began a movement in architecture that we still follow today. Buildings skyrocketed to new heights in the form of modern day skyscrapers. Architects we still revere today rose to fame during this time. Many events and people were about to change the course of architecture through ingenuity and the use of past architect's ideas.

The first change occurred through the invention of machines that mass produced objects . On one hand this was great because it made all these amenities readily available, but to other "true" designers this meant a loss of designs being created by hands which meant a loss of heart and creativity. One such designer, William Morris, took upon himself to change this new age of mechanization and revert back to handcrafted designs...a movement known as the the Arts and Crafts movement. Along with others who followed suit, he altered medieval architecture by incorporating it into the modern designs of the 19th century. The picture to the left is known as the Red House which was designed and constructed by Morris along with his friend Philip Webb. This house showcases the Gothic architecture of old time incorporated into modern design. Everything was hand designed and constructed inside and out by Morris, foregoing the machinery being used in the 19th century.

Because of Morris' action to step out of the box, Frank Lloyd Wright followed in his footsteps but decided to put his own twist on the Arts and Crafts Movement. New forms were created into modern, non-traditional houses that had never been seen before. Roth tells us that "European architects...were inspired by his opening up of space and his rejection of traditional forms and building methods." Using Morris' ideas, Wright began to refashion the face of architecture that would be appreciated
by many decades later. The pictures to the right and left showcase the Ward Willits House. This was the first prairie style house of the 19th century. It has some Japanese influence, but is shaped almost like a Gothic style cathedral (cross design). It just shows how much past architectural concepts influenced even famed designers like Frank Lloyd Wright. He originated his own designs, yet he incorporated classic design styles as well into the modern forms.

The growing trend in modernism sparked the need to have a school with comprehensive teaching and instruction on architecture. Universities opened and they quickly produced immaculate students. One such famous student to come out of Ecole des Beaux-Arts (School o fFine Arts) was Louis Sullivan. He looked at the new trend of tall buildings as having 3 fundamental and purposeful zones. Through this process of thinking, he constructed the
Guaranty Building. Sullivan incorporated his own version of patterns on the outside of the building to emphasize each of his zones. Constructed in 1895, Sullivan said "it must be every inch a proud and soaring thing, rising in sheer exultation that from bottom to top it is a unit without a single dissenting line." Even though this quote was stated over 100 years ago, it still has much truth to it. Modern day architects of skyscrapers build their buildings with character that give it a sense of pride power. That is what Sullivan was communicating with his view on skyscrapers. The Guranty Building is featured to the right and shows off his attention to detail in design along with his designated zones from street to building top.

**From this summary, I derive the question...Is there really an original idea or do we just keep altering existing concepts? These architects used past designs but changed them around a bit to create interest and uniqueness. They can't take ALL the credit because some of their thoughts for modern architecture already existed in other forms. Looking at the past gives us inspiration and creativity to put towards a new venture. It expands our thinking beyond our own bias thoughts. In essence, I am leaning towards the fact that we just keep altering existing concepts with the door open freely to change it in any way we want!

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