ruminations about architecture and design

Friday, October 25, 2013

frustration (part of the series)

Based on what I've been taught about architectural history, the concept of "crisis" didn't exist until the early twentieth century. Prior to modernism, architects competed against each other, but they did not attempt to foment revolutions or declare stylistic approaches criminal or foolish. The continuity and consistency of style that was expressed at the Exposition of 1893 in Chicago can be regarded as a high point of agreement on aesthetics. The legacy of that attitude, and of the conservative eclecticism of the 19th century, can be seen in the finest neighborhoods of towns and cities across the country.

Modernism killed the historical approach towards architectural design. Novelty became prized ahead of craft. The Art Deco represented a bright period of compromise, but at the end of the day, the glass and concrete box became the symbol of the new industrial state. The single family home was relegated to the domain of the developer/builder.

The modernists created a war out of nothing, that served no purpose except to alienate users and spawn a series of revolutions and counter-revolutions in the academic institutions. Modernism begat Brutalism, which begat Post-Modrnism and Deconstructivism. Maybe things have come full circle in that no one can lay claim to a predominate style at the moment, but what is clear to me, and what is the source of my frustration--and in no small part, the purpose for towers of ilium--is that architects cannot communicate the idea of beauty to regular people.

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