Monday, April 25, 2011


As described in the unit's heading, this section did indeed deal with explorations but more than that it was about discovering the meaning and purpose of architecture. Should its purpose be solely utilitarian, stylistic, or can it be both? The design forms of this unit had never been seen before nor explored. As the "rules" from the east and west fizzle out, stylistic approaches quickly change to a free, limitless world of design.

We open up the unit into the first World's Fairs. These expositions showcased art and design from around the world in one central location. It was more than just an exhibition of the best of the was a collaboration of separate worlds into one. The fair was also a celebratory event that recognized world evenths, interests, and changes. The city that was selected to host the world's fair automatically put a footnote into history for that country. Similar to the Olympics, this was a monumental event that was not to be taken lightly. The celebration of nations began here. The arts and craft movement began to form around this time. This was about whether architecture should be essentially "mass produced" or stay true to its roots of handcrafting. William Morris penned the quote: " Good design for all" He was communicating that design should benefit everyone with both a stylistic and utilitarian purpose. His belief was that all designers and architects have a social responsibility to create something that can be appreciated by each person designer or not. This brings us to the movement after modernism. Artists such as Seurat, Cezanne, and van Gogh began to play with the idea of light and material. This created art with a true feeling of emotion and feeling. Forms were harder to decipher and instead of lines finishing the picture, it was left to the viewer to complete the artists' thoughts and visions.

Enter Art Nouveau: a movement of natural, curvilinear lines and natural materials. This design form allowed your eyes to travel instead of just focusing on one aspect of the painting or architecture. This began in France and traveled over to America in the form of art deco. Exteriors and interiors began to look like skins. This trend was apparent in such skyscrapers and centers as the Empire State Building and Rockefeller Center.

Modernism came back into popularity with architects such as Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Le Corbusier. This time modernism concepts were accompanied with problems. Buildings were criticized to all look alike and lack uniqueness. Classrooms on campuses all looked the same and lacked character. Glass box forms became popular by Mies van der Rohe and he took it to another level through the Chicago Lakeshore apartment buildings. Philip Johnson combined both modernism and art deco. He said: "Purpose is not necessary to make a building beautiful." He designed solely for the purpose of aesthetic value. Design was changing and rules were no longer in existence. This is apparent in Bruce Goff's Bavinger Houde in Norman, Oklahoma. Its appearance resembles a nautical theme but its location is no where near water. Modernism was beginning to not take its surroundings into consideration as it had in the past. Fast forward a couple years to the U.S. Air Force Academy Chapel in Colorado Springs and it clearly resembles plane wings with Gothic influence. By this time, anything was fair game. Designers began to get creative and make their creations parallel to the purpose of the building. The College Life Insurance Building in Indianapolis resembles pyramids from Egypt. Preservation of life is
what the pyramids stood for so the design of this building is appropriate and almost comical.

Louis Barragan: "How can one forget joy? I believe a work of art reaches perfection when it conveys silent joy and serenity." This quote stuck out to me because I think it communicates the very essence of the purpose of architecture. It not only wraps up the unit well but also the theme of this class. Architecture has never spoken to me on an emotional level, and now I can see it through different eyes. It may even take me to the place of joy and serenity. The unit was about explorations, and this time of trial and error for architecture from arts and crafts all the way to modernism was about discovery. I chose Le Corbusier's Villa Savoye to illustrate this unit because I think it incorporates modernism and art nouveau aspects. The eye travels across the whole house whether you are looking at it from above, below, or ground level. It's modern because of roof garden and free plan. It is untraditional with its base on stilts instead of concrete.
It is open to nature on all sides. It also forms around a car's turning radius as discussed in class, which is ingenious design. This was built in 1929, which was before modernism began its second phase. He was ahead of design time to me, and this house
is timeless...a form and design to be followed by many.

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