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Explain the ideas and reasons behind your design

Modernist Architecture

The root of Modernist architecture is Modernism, and Modernism involves much


more than architecture. It was an outlook on life that arose out of a reaction to and
because of the changes in society. Industrialism was creating major disruptions to
society at the same time that it was creating new opportunities.

The Seagram BuildingThe Seagram Building is an example of the International Style,


the Modernists endpoint in their evolution.What people think in this age is often a
reaction to what people thought in the previous age. So it was then and modernism
was the result. In art it was a refutation of natural forms and realism in favor of a
search for a more elemental understanding of art. They experimented with color
and shape and arrived at abstraction and surrealism. In architecture modernism
took the form of a reaction against any style of the past, against any ornamentation,
and against any falsity or pretension. It moved towards simplicity and embraced
industrialization.
Modernism was also a very positive and humanistic philosophy in that it believed
man and society could be perfected. Education and technology and industrial
development were all to play their parts, as was architecture.

People recognized that there was a distinct shift in mans prospects. Whereas
change in the past had been a gradual improvement over tradition the theory of the
day was that man needed a dramatic shift in the way he lived. The forms of
buildings and housing suited to their fathers no longer made sense. A modern man
needed modernist architecture suited for a modern way of life.

While it would be wrong to say that modernist architecture was a politically inspired
many of its chief movers were. Socialism was widely accepted in intellectual circles
and modern architecture was seen by its proponents as the solution for affordable
housing for the working class.

Modernist architecture borrowed from Vitruvius the idea of Convenience under the
catchphrase form follows function and from Ruskin the ideal of Truth. They
specifically rejected the continuation of the craft system and Ruskins lamp of Life"
Consider point 6 of the La Sarraz Declaration:

6. Following the dissolution of the guilds, the collapse of the class of skilled
craftsmen is an accomplished fact. The inescapable consequence of the
development of the machine has led to industrial methods of production different
from and often opposed to those of the craftsmen. Until recently, thanks to the
teaching of the academies, the architectural conception has been inspired chiefly by
the methods of craftsmen and not by the new industrial methods. This contradiction
explains the profound disorganization of the art of building. (Translated by Michael
Bullock.From Programs and Manifestoes on 20th-Century Architecture.The MIT Press.
Cambridge, MA: 1971)

The La Sarraz Declaration was a manifesto put out by a group of the leading
European modernist architects in 1928. Most of its content was a complaint against
the current system of architecture and the academies that perpetuated it.

In rejecting craftsmen and embracing mass-production of housing in an industrial


fashion they werent really directing events, they were merely understanding the
times. But they made some other choices that took us in directions that werent
inevitable.

The Chrysler BuildingThis is the Chrysler Building. It is designed in the Art Deco
Style before the Modernists abandoned all ornamentation.As a general rule, they
rejected ornamentation. This was not apparent at first. Attempts were made to
apply new styles of art to the enrichment of the buildings they created. Art Nouveau
and Art Deco, in their turns, were both used as decorative schemes with as much
detailing and care as any Classical or Gothic architect would offer. But eventually

the idea that the shape and texture of a building could create interest enough led to
a rejection of ornamentation.
While their have been many architectural theorists there have been no single voices
that have stood out or stood the test of time like Ruskin or Vitruvius. I have no
Seven Lamps I can offer as embodying a philosophy for modernist architecture.
Instead what I offer is my own distillation based on observation and what I have
gleaned from their writings:

Form follows function


Truth to materials.
Purity of form (interpreted as minimalism in ornamentation)
These architects were sincere in their beliefs. They strove to make the world a
better place through their buildings and housing. They earnestly strove to make
designs that enhanced the functions of living. Some of it was successful. Some was
not.

For instance, their attempts to improve substandard urban housing often replaced
horizontal ghettoes with vertical ghettoes. Their skyscrapers provided beautiful
silhouettes, but also created urban canyons, shielded from light. Their urban
planners divided the world into residential, industrial and commercial centers
increased the need for transportation, and made downtown areas ghost towns after
6 p.m..

However the greatest indictment of modernist architecture is aesthetic. The


industrialization of housing and offices coupled with a rigidly applied concern for
function over form led to a lot of boring boxes. They were certainly more successful
in the world of commercial real estate, but still boring. In the area of residential
architecture people voted with their pocketbooks. Except, perhaps, in the upper
end, modernist houses were unsellable. People preferred traditional styles.

Modernist architecture rejected tradition, but society is largely based on tradition.


Even the new modern man was wanting to cling tightly to his past.

As always, there was a reaction. Really two reactions going in different directions.

One a return to traditional values but with modern materials. The other a plunge
into nihilism.
Instructions
1
Describe the location of the structure. List details including the address it will be
situated at, the main intersections it is located near, how much land has been
appropriated to place the building on, land elevations and the direction the building
will be facing. Details such as the amounts of area allowed for parking, storage and
landscaping can also be listed. Water, electricity and sanitary sewer access should
also be included.

2
Determine and describe the style of the structure. Provide pictures of similar
structures and other works in progress. Explain the reasons for selecting a particular
style. For example, you may choose a Mediterranean style for a particular area
because that is the style of adjacent structures. The style of building should not
necessarily be the same as those around it but it should blend well with its
surroundings, which include nearby structures and the landscaping.

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3
Determine the needed square footage of the structure and what it will be used for.
This will depend on the business or businesses that will occupy the new building.
Designate what will be utilized as storage, for kitchens and/or employee break
rooms and for office space and living areas or waiting rooms. Allow space for
elevators, stairs, housekeeping closets and heating and air conditioning units. Cite
reasons why the square footage is designated as it is. Give style details and
locations of main entrances, windows, stairs and other doors.

4
List the quality and types of materials specific to the project. This is extremely
important in order to maintain the original integrity and aesthetics of the structure.
It will provide the means to estimate costs. It will also provide a plan for all involved
helping them to stay on course. They will follow this detailed architectural plan and
use superior building materials and interior products and provide quality
workmanship.

5
Estimate the total cost of the project. You can add charts and graphs depicting
projected costs, cash flow and investments for added clarity. The important element
in this step is to include all budget figures, especially expenses, so there are no
surprises. Surprises can result in added costs. Optional upgrades and their costs can
also be listed.

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