Friday, January 23, 2015

Modernism Word of the Day; 21 -30


From NY to LA to Miami Beach. Armed with concrete, steel and lots and lots of glass modernist architects are sucking at the golden teats of the nouveau riche who are on the scene. Nothing like their stuffy predecessors with their "privacy issues"; they've got it, they're flaunting it, they're letting us all know how the young emperors live it up.


As a follow up on the previous post of architectural voyeurism, the new "Standard" in swank, swinger, modernist hotels is a curtain wall of ultra-transparent, low glare glass.

The question has to be asked though: Should neighbors and their children be forced to watch maids make up the beds as at lower left, all in the name of progress?


The suburban and urban infill 2.0: mixed-use, hikable, bikable, occasionally even likable.

However, admittedly agnostic to style, atheistic to craft the "New" Urbanism is a 20th century theoretical ideology of imposing an highly engineered, eutopic master plan from a centralized authority. The rapid developments of New Urbanism bear scant resemblance to traditional town planning developed generationally by members of a local community.



With the destruction of the Pruitt-Igoe project in 1972 Modernism was pronounced dead. The citizenry had risen up and rejected it for sure; however, if they thought any of their local architectural traditions would be revived they were in for a nasty surprise. The next generation of architects would replace Modernism with a caricature of culture. Irony, Parody and the Bold Statement were the buzzwords and the public became the butt of the joke.

Like that Chippendale piece? We’ll make a skyscraper out of it. Ha, ha, ha!

So you dig Classical architecture? We’ll distort every element and make it out of anodized aluminum…in mauve!
Oh God…I can’t breathe…you dumb bastards…Ha, ha, ha!


The triumph of raw concrete, the celebration of ugliness. Brutalism reigned supreme in the 60’s and 70’s as the harsh standard of civic architecture among government buildings, institutions of higher learning and medical facilities such as this Scottish Mental Hospital where I’m certain customer retention is high.

Modernize the man by modernizing his environment. The pure "machine for living" would be set free by employing the Five Points of Modern Architecture:

PILOTIS - Supporting walls replaced by a grid of reinforced concrete posts

Free Plan - No supporting walls allow for the open floor plan

Free Façade - With no structural role the façade likewise is set free

Horizontal Window - Cut across the entire length of the elevations, equality of light for all of the interior

Roof Garden - The fulcrum of balance between mechanization and nature

Oh yeah, its a thing.
Selfridges' Birmingham department store is unique in that the building is able to 'consume' the consumers via the car park entry feeder tube. I’m not sure but I really think the building is still growing.

Just one more item of passing related interest, the architect claimed his design was meant to ‘evoke the female silhouette’.


Austerity and rays of light in space. The 'Less is More' maxim leads architecture to its logical conclusion, its purest from, namely the elimination of anything that may appeal to the senses: ornament, color, texture, nature, human beings.


Fragmentation, chaos, dislocation, disorder...the physical manifestation of the impossibility of intrinsic meaning. The highest expressions are over-sized and placed in the midst of traditional town planning settings for greatest disruptive impact that extends far beyond the building itself.

Contributed by Patrick Webb

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