Cities 255, Reading, Part 4, 1895-1945:
Nostalgia and the Avant-Garde: Architecture for a New Century.
in Keith Eggener, ed., American Architectural History (New York, 2004).
Frame: This article focused on Frank Lloyd Wright and his version of the prairie house and how it showed Wrights prolonged investigation of the Richardsonian design. This article marked the similarities and differences between Wright and Richardson. The article also discussed the Taliesin house in Spring Green, Wisconsin, stating that it was a crowning achievement that summed up the search for personal and landed domestic architecture.
Point: To thoroughly examine Wrights Prairie house and to discuss the materials, construction technique, floor plan and influences that shaped his Prairie house. This article describes, in depth, the characteristics used in Wrights Prairie house such as long spans, pronounced cantilevers, cruciform plans and open interiors. It also to explained how Wrights Taliesin house brought together man strands of the past by creating an environment where man, architecture and nature can form a harmonious whole.
William B. Rhoads, Roadside Colonial: Early American Design for the Automobile Age, 1900-1940, Winterthur Portfolio, Vol. 21m No, 2/3 (Summer-Autumn, 1986) 133-152. (ag)
Frame: Tourism along Americas roadways increased during the early part of the twentieth-century, which created a need for more gas stations, motels, and diners to help the travelers along their journey. The form that most of these new buildings took was that of their regional colonial architectural past.
Point: The new technology of the car and highway created nostalgia for earlier and more traditional American architecture, which many people believed reflected a return to traditional American values. Rhoads argues that these new mock-colonial motels, diners, and gas stations reflected the idea of Henry Fords dictum of keeping the best of the old life with the best of the present (pg. 138). There was a dichotomy between peoples love of the fast modern car and highway which gave them the ability to travel further, and their need/desire for not only traditional picturesque historic homes to visit but also a calm quaint place to eat with the family.
David Gebhard, The American Colonial Revival in the 1930s Winterthur Portfolio, Vol. 22, No. 2/3 (Summer-Autumn, 1987), 109-148. (mmh)
Gebhard outlines the reasons behind the widespread revival of the American Colonial style in the 1930s, as well as discusses further the predominate substyles.
In the post-Depression era, strong undertones of nationalism, as well as an economical lifestyle afforded by Colonial form, made it a popular type, particularly among the middle and upper-middle classes. Further perpetuated by growing national appreciation of history and the colonial period, numerous books on the topic, especially house pattern books, rapidly proliferated its effectsas seen in a variety of substyles which coupled colonial form with regional styles. This use was not exclusive to residential architecture, but also broadly employed in commercial and public designs.
The American Colonial Revival in the 1930s, by Gebhard, David Winterthur
Portfolio 22, 2/3 (Summer-Autumn 1987): 109-148 (pp)
Frame: This article focused on the reasons for a Colonial Revival during the 1900s the literature and architects that influenced this movement. It also discussed types of Colonial houses such as the Cape Cod cottage, the Dutch colonial, the Pennsylvanian farmhouse, the California ranch house, etc.
Point: To explain why and how the Colonial style greatly influenced domestic and commercial housing during the early 1900s due to architects and architectural literature. Also to distinguish between the different types of colonial houses by citing characteristics that were specific to each style of house.
David Gebhard, The Spanish Colonial Revival in Southern California (1895-1930), The Journal of the Society of the Architectural Historian, Vol. 26, No. 2 (May 1967) 131-147. (ag)
Frame: Gebhard discusses the differences and similarities between the two phases of the Spanish colonial revival, which flourished in Southern California during the first thirty years of the twentieth-century. He discusses the architecture that the two styles were influenced by, but he also explains how the two styles influenced other movements. The Mission Revival (1st phase) and the Mediterranean style (2nd phase) influenced the avant-garde architectural movements of the 1920s.
Point: Gebhard begins by arguing that the architecture of the Spanish Colonial Revival was not based on historical California Spanish missions but more on the mythical ideal of what a Spanish domestic vernacular should look like mixed with exotic Islamic elements and Craftsmen style plans. He is particularly interested in how the Spanish Colonial Revival influenced the Secessionist architecture of about the same time period. He argues that the avant-garde borrowed the simple forms, limited detailing and materials that were common in Spanish Colonial Revival architecture.
Arnold Lewis, The Disquieting Progress of Chicago in Craig Zabel & Susan Scott Munshower, eds., American Public Architecture: European Roots and Native Expressions (University Park, PA, 1989) 114-137. (mmh)
This article discusses the European reception and critiques of Chicagoan commercial architecture in the latter three decades of the 1800s.
What Americans saw as an inevitable dynamic growth, the rapid progress and development of Chicago was shaped by certain limiting factors, such as location and land. The result of this was the skyscrapera form which was largely criticized by Europeans, particularly those viewing the city during the 1893 Worlds Colombian Exposition. Most commonly citing the lack of character and deception of material, Europeans found Chicago to be a diabolical place whose new form of architecture, which greatly contrasted that of European capitals such as London and Paris, as threatening the transformation of modern life,
Twombly, Robert. "Louis Sullivan's First National Bank Building
(1919-1922), Manistique, Michigan."The Journal of the Society of
Architectural Historians, 20:2 (June 2001), 200-207 (kc).
Frame: Twombly investigates the May 1919 and February 1920 drawings
Sullivan produced of the renovation of the First National Bank in
Manistique, Michigan. The space and design of the bank deviates from
others of Sullivans structures and provides a unique dilemma to explore
what of Sullivans plans were actually used and built into the refurbished
c. 1900 building. The initial purpose for the project was aesthetic
agreement of the building. (201) And to place the bank appropriately
within its economic context as a powerful institution. (201) Reading the
old building from the remodel, it is evident that Sullivan was concerned
with the color program (202) and symmetry (203). First National was
unique as a dual-purpose building, housing the bank and other office
space. From Twomblys research he believes Sullivan developed distinct
plans for certain building uses. For those like First National, a lidded
and duochrome structure won out. (203) Inside the bank space was
transformed by social developments and structural limitations. An
elaborate childrens nook, womens restroom and the richness of certain
departments (trust and insurance, 206) indicated the transforming purpose
of the space. To lure farmers and their families into the bank, the plan
afforded significant social space. The vault was moved out of the banks
center piece because of a new heating system put in place, style bowed out
to technology and structure in this respect. These two examples are
distinctly different from more traditional bank-as-type buildings.
Point: Twombly makes the argument that Sullivans plans, from the
evidence of his two sets of drawings, were in part realized. Although
changes to First Nationals structure (interior, 1934, 1958 and exterior,
late 1990s) make it hard to distinguish what of Sullivans sumptuous
ornament was left out. (207) Twombly does believe though that Sullivans
vast experience is evident in the 1919-1922 renovation and the unique
situation of the First National building offers hints as to its unique and
somewhat deviant approach.
H. Allen Brooks, Jr., Chicago School: Metamorphosis of a Term The Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Vol. 25, No.2 (May, 1966), 115-118. (mmh)
In seeking to properly define the term, Brooks works to delineate the evolution of the Chicago School. The term, in its original intent, was in reference to these particular architects residential works, with the sole exception of Louis Sullivan.
While the term is most commonly used to encapsulate the architects and their characteristics of the late 1800s well into the 1900s, who stemmed from the Mid-west, Brooks points out that it is incorrect. It has come to encompass both commercial and residential architecture. This disparity, for Brooks, comes with Siegfried Giedions Space, Time, and Architecture (1941), when the author constantly used the term Chicago School to discuss the commercial landscape of Chicago. Brooks, in resolution, proposes two definitionsone relating to the original meaning of the term, and a second to define that which it has come to mean.
H. Allen Brooks, Jr., The Early Works of the Prairie Architects The Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Vol 19, No. 1 (March 1960), 2-10. (mmh)
This work concisely outlines the nascent works and architects of the Prairie School.
Starting with George Maher and Frank Lloyd Wright, Brooks illustrates some of the underlying characteristics that members of the Prairie School employed in their design. While working to define the architects and their works individually, Brooks carefully shows the connections and relationships between the architects themselves. He, in effects, outlines the evolution a small group of individuals sharing a set of common interests into an environment sought out by otherswhat becomes known as the Prairie School.
dos Passos, John. "Exerpt from The Big Money, 1939" from Building
the Nation: Americans Write About Their Architecture, Their Cities, and
Their Landscape, ed. Steven Conn and Max Page, Philadelphia: University of
Pennsylvania Press, 2003. pgs 26-27 (edv)
This excerpt from The Big Money is a concise biography of 20th
century American architect Frank Lloyd Wright.
Dos Passos views Frank Lloyd Wright as the future of American
architecture. Wright's use of new materials and interest in
functionality leads dos Passos to compare Wright to a "preacher,
prophet, exhorter". Dos Passos believes that ultimately, Wright will be
a figure in American history who brought hope to the American people.
Eggener, Keith L. "Maybeck's Melancholy: Architecture, Empahty,
Empire, and Mental Illness at the 1915 Panama-Pacific International
Exposition" Winterthur Portfolio, Vol. 29, No. 4 (Winter, 1994), pgs
Eggener describes Bernard Maybeck's methods and intentions in
building the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, CA.
Eggener calls Maybeck's Palace of Fine Arts a "mood piece" (pg 226).
Through analysis of Henry Maudsley's theories of melancholia, Eggener
asserts that Maybeck created the somber atmosphere at the Palace of
Fine Arts to imply a theme of cultural progress, progress which occurs
in teh years following societal ruin. In the building and grounds,
Maybeck produced his own work of art representative of the somber and
serious themes of the art work which it housed.
"Building the Picture: Trading on the Imagery of Production and Design," by Gottfried, Herbert, Winterthur Portfolio 27, 4 (Winter 1992): 235-253 (co)
Examined how the ready availability of mass produced goods and millwork
(doors, windows, railings, moulding) influeneced vernacular architecture
shortly after the turn of the century. Numerous mail order catalogs
provided even those living in rural areas with access to current styles in
all types of building parts. The catalogs were well illustrated, often
showing products combined with others; door, wallpaper, and moulding, all
together,for example. This made it possible for customers to attempt to
"build the picture", recreating the picture in their homes.
Pina, Leslie. "Louis Rorimer: Nonresidential Interior Design"
Winterthur Portfolio, Vol. 225, No. 2/3 (Summer - Autumn, 1990) pgs
In this article, Leslie Pina discusses the work of interior designer
Pina argues that Rorimer's great sucess is mainly due to his
knowledge of the hitory of art and architecture and his ability to
utilize historical styles in modern nonresidential spaces.
"Controlling Passions: The Turn of the Century Wallpaper Dilemma," by Jennings, Jan, Winterthur Portfolio 31, 4 (Winter, 1996) 243-264 (co)
Mail order wallpaper was big business in this country at the start of the
20th century. It was made available to middle class women through
catalogs, and was one of the first "do it yourself" type projects women
were able to do. I personally rarely pictured homes as having wall paper
(often in horrible, gaudy designs), but it has a huge impact on how a
space feels. Wallpaper was significantly opposed by followers of the arts
and crafts movement.
Gordon, Beverly. "Woman's Domestic Body: The Conceptual Conflation
of Woman and Interiors in the Industrial Age" Winterthur Portfolio, Vol.
31, No. 4, Gendered Spaces and Aesthetics (Winter, 1996), pgs 281-301 (edv)
In this article, Gordon discusses the manner in which women's bodies
and the interiors of their homes became interchangable between the late
19th century and middle of the 20th century.
Gordon argues that the conflation of women and the interior of their
homes was so strong that they actually became extentions of one
another. Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, the interchangability
of the body and domestic interior came to reflect the changing societal
views of the female gender and the cultural role of women in America.
Cheryl Robertson, Male and Female Agendas for Domestic Reform: The Middle-Class Bungalow in Gendered Perspective Winterthur Portfolio, Vol. 26, No. 2/3 (Summer-Autumn, 1991), 123-141. (mmh)
Robertson discusses the evolution of the bungalow in the early 20th century with regards to its gender neutrality.
Reinforcing the ethos of the time, namely the establishment and reinforcement of social norms and citizenship in the public realm through the fostering of principal aspects at home, Robertson uses the evolution of the interior space of the bungalowa distinctive middle-class house typeto show the move towards gender neutrality in its form and layout. With the living room and kitchen the shared objects of domestic interest and revival, an examination of each space showed a shift towards gender neutrality and the broader creation of a more informal household. The presence of a den, however, tips the balance and reaffirms a stronger male influence on the household and its form.
Male and Female Agendas for Domestic Reform: The Middle-Class Bungalow
in Gendered Perspective, by Robertson, Cheryl Winterthur Portfolio
26, 2/3 (Summer-Autumn 1991): 123-141 (pp)
Frame: This article discusses the reasons for a readjustment in the gender balance in the family home by explaining the equation of comfort, textiles and furnishing. It also talks about the change that occurred in the floor plan of an American bungalow by comparing and contrasting Indian bungalows to Californian bungalows, especially those constructed by Stickley. It also talks about the male and female attitudes toward simple living and the changes that took place in the various rooms of the house, in particular the kitchen, living room and den.
Point: To demonstrate the preservation of the separate spheres for the sexes and to show feminine sensibility in matters of the domestic beautification and taste. This article also drew a distinction between Indian-style and Californian-style bungalows by talking about the additional rooms added to the bungalow and the different materials that were used in their construction.
Robertson, Cheryl. "Male and Female Agendas for Domestic Reform: The
Middle-Class Bungalow in Gendered Perspective."Winterthur Portfolio,
26:2/3 (Summer/Autumn 1991): 123-141.
Frame: Robertson explains the origin of the bungalow style suburban home
from English colonial India to Californias beach and forest getaway
houses. The open, breezy plan of the bungalow streamlined living space
and complimented the developing stylistic and social sentiments of the
early 20th century. Instead of maintaining an elaborate scheme of
Victorian-era decadence, simplified living was touted above all else. The
open plan, new gadgets and alternative furnishing style (earth tones,
simple materials, uncluttered space) rendered servants obsolete and
transformed traditional spaces in the home. The new kitchen, living room
and den spaces are evidence of changing (or stagnant?) gender structures
in the home. The kitchen was transformed into a family social space, no
longer the office of the homemaker, more open to men. The living room
reverted to a more traditional open hall function, also serving as an
inclusive social space, instead of being devoted more solely to womens
domestic functions (like receiving and withdrawing). (129) These two
rooms achieved a function as actual living space rather than for aesthetic
show. The den however, was a revitalization of the Victorian smoking
room, primarily for men. The male notion of simplicity was not hinged on
progressive technological developments and transforming gender roles.
Rustic, primitive male-ness was expressed in a return to the past. (133)
Dens became a male dominated space, to show off hunting trophies, athletic
achievements and other paraphernalia. (135) Ultimately the den reinforced
female subjugation by drawing on exoticized notions of femininity to
project an image and atmosphere through the dens decorative themes.
Point: Robertson wants to analyze the claim of equalizing gender roles
through the developing bungalow design of the early 20th century. She
says that in the media (magazines and catalogues) offers two views on
female subjugation. One they indicated a movement toward integration and
equality and two there are continued˛or new forms of˛repression and
subjugation for women, suggesting that the family home did not function as
a safe haven. (124) But she does account for and recognized that the
simplified living movement was supported by and had consequences (good and
bad) for both men and women. The technology and form that followed
(cement structures, open plans, new gadgets, etc) cut down on the domestic
work required of women (& servants). And men became involved and invested
in traditional womens arenas like fashion and interior design. (124) It
was eventually the masculine aesthetic (of the den) that triumphed (140)
and our expectations of gender equality requires a more nuanced
understanding of how the bungalow developed and the effects it had on the
family unit and parts.
Swiatosz, Susan. A Technical History of Late Nineteenth Century Windows in the United States. Bulletin of the Association for Preservation Technology, Vol. 17, No. 1 (1985), 31-37. (jp)
This article covers in very great detail the period of American architecutre from 1860 to the early 21st century. While the period is early in our section four time period for this week, I found this article very helpful in clarifying the progression of styles weve covered so far. The way that windows progressed from simple, strictly proportioned classical styles during the neo-palladian era, Greek revival, and Federal period to more ornate, differently styled windows during the Gothic and Victorian eras is illustrated here. Swiatosz uses examples of how sindow shapes changed and branched out from just one common style to clarify how styles began to overlap and differentiate into the Queen Anne style, stick style, and various incarnations of the Victorian Gothic in general. She also emphasized the many ways that industrialization (including the balloon form) changed architecture, through the avenue and example of window form and shape. The very specific details and dimensions of windows here are a bit technical and dry, but the overall message of the article is the illustration and analysis of this particular time period in American architecture.
Hoffman, Alexander. Of Greater Lasting Consequence: Frederick Law Olmsted and the Fate of Franklin Park, Boston. The Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Vol. 47 , No. 4 (Dec. 1988). Pp 339-350 (jp)
This article brings up a very prominent issue that arose in America at the end of the 19th century: the so-called evils of urban settings after the industrial revolution drastically increased the physical size, population, density, and pollution of cities. This was a country-wide issue and was tackled in a number of ways, including many attempted changes in building styles and shapes (i.e. skyscrapers, tenements, etc.), but the rise of large, landscaped parks in cities was a huge urban trend that arose as a possible solution. Frederick Law Olmsted was a landscape architect who spearheaded this movement to allow cities to breathe by providing natural landscapes in the middle of dense, artificial areas. Here, Alexander von Hoffman discusses his career and motivations, and one of his projects, Bostons Franklin Park, in particular. There were a surprising number of problems/conflicts between the citizens of Boston and Olmsted revealed by this article, but it still makes an excellent illustration of how and why large central parks became such an important part of the architectural landscape at this point in time.
Sandweiss, Eric. "Building for Downtown Living: The Residential
Architecture of San Franciscos Tenderloin." Perspectives in Vernacular
Architecture. v.3 Eds. Thomas Carter and Bernard L. Herman. Columbia, MO:
University of Missouri Press, 1989. 160-173. (kc)
Frame: Sandweiss describes the architectural developments in the
Tenderloin district of San Francisco in the post-1906 fire rejuvenation.
In the context of the suburban exodus, rising land prices and significant
demand for in-city residences, the architectural developments of the area
were unconventional, opting for residential hotels and apartment houses.
The style stoked the fire for critics of city-living proving a dynamic
lifestyle of young, hip city dwellers that saw the home as not much more
than a place to sleep. Yet the population of the Tenderloin was mostly
educated, white collar working and middle class that demanded
respectability and status in their housing. (163) The demands of
architecture in the neighborhood drew from luxurious associations like
decorated arched entryways. (The Cadillac Hotel, 1917 pg. 164) The
Washington Apartments, 1913 went out of their way with pretensions to
luxury through detailed decoration. (165) Critics continued their
complaints about the area and while the population did not change much,
the architectural experimentation did. The exotic developments of
risqué business (cocktail lounges with visible, neon signage) fostered an
image of loose residents. (169)
Point: Eventually, the critics won out and public discomfort was evident
through a series of policy measures that isolated the neighborhood and
directed money away from its upkeep and services. The fear of drugs and
crime from the talk, Sandweiss argues, finally pushed people out of the
Tenderloin and spiraled the neighborhood into disrepair. (172) But
Sandweiss ultimately wants to show the vibrancy that once was in the
Tenderloin and the unique standard of city-living that was ultimately
social and community oriented in practice and in architecture (whats more
intimate than sharing a bathroom down the hall with your neighbor in the
efficiency apartment complex?). Only because the changing norms dictated
home ownership and a domestic notion that was incompatible with city life
did the Tenderloin fall victim to legislated fear. Sandweiss ends his
article, optimistic that the surviving city-living structure, in the
largely destroyed and commercialized Tenderloin of today, now home to a
large number of South Asian immigrants will redevelop its unique city
community feel and rekindle the vibrancy that once was. I would be
interested to know how his optimism has panned out, now 16 years
later˛what is the Tenderloin like today?
Heath, Kingston WM. "False Front Architecture on Montanas Frontier."
Perspectives in Vernacular Architecture. v.3 Eds. Thomas Carter and
Bernard L. Herman. Columbia, MO: University of Missouri Press, 1989.
Frame & Point: This article was actually from Period III, accounting for
the urban frontier architecture of Bannack, Montana in the late 1800s
(beginning in 1863 or so). But I did read it because 1. I love all things
West and 2. It was interesting to see the modification of many revival
styles to a very simple structure like the false front. A couple lancet
arches for the Gothic, a few pilasters represented the Greek and
round-headed arches (with or without keystones) were their interpretation
of the Renaissance Revival. (207)
I think these false-fronts represent the effect of architecture on the
profoundly average (rural) American. The simple reconstructions of style
were enough to invoke the associations of civilization to comfort those
on the frontier and yet they were unique and representative of the
developing culture of the west, extremely practical and of a purpose.
Their development was determined by material access, construction
developments, and the convenience of style (often garnered from other
Western outposts like Salt Lake City or Denver). Ultimately Heath makes
the argument that these false-fronts helped Bannack achieve some sort of
permanence˛in economy, community and structure.
Thomas S. Hines, Los Angeles Architecture: the Issue of Tradition in a Twentieth-Century City, David G. De Long, Helen Searing, and Robert A. M. Stern, eds., American Architecture: Innovation and Tradition (New York, 1986) 112-129. (ag)
Frame: This article discuss the development of modern architecture in Los Angeles by citing specific architects such as the Greene Brothers, Irving Gill, Frank Lloyd Wright, Richard Neutra, and Frank Gehry as well as movements like Art Deco and Streamline Moderne. Although the article spans the entire twentieth-century, it focuses on the first half and discusses the issue of tradition and innovation (pg 128).
Point: Hines mentions that most people consider LA to not only be a new city but one that loves modern architecture and has a tendency to forget and not honor the past. However, he argues that architects and stylistic movements during the twentieth-century always were influenced to varying degrees by past civilizations, the vernacular of different countries, as well as, previous architectural movements regardless of how innovative and modern they may have seemed. For example, he calls Irving Gills architecture a synthesis of regional tradition and innovative abstraction (pg. 118). This idea of the past mixed with new ideas is evident in all of Los Angeles architecture of this period.
Longstreth Richard. The Diffusion of the Community Shopping Center Concept during the Interwar Decades. The Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Vol. 56, No. 3. (Sept. 1997) pp 268-293. (jp)
Going along in the vein of urbanism and development that Ive seen in all of my readings so far, this author outlines the development and structure of the community shopping center in American suburban life before and after the first World War. Originally developed around one main market, these centers, at first, rejected modern urbanism and attempted to convey a pre-war (and pre-modernity) architecture in their ornamentation and in their actual traffic flow and visual set up. There are not many specific details of architectural structure mentioned in this article, but the impression is one of an ornate style with embellishments rather than a more minimalist, modern style that was being employed by so many urban settings. Many factors contributed to the rise and popularity of these shopping centers, namely the expansion of suburbs, the development of a new upper-middle class in those suburbs, and a nonhierarchial approach to drawing consumers to a large number of businesses at once. This article is not only a good analysis of these changing patterns of residence and commerce after World War I, but of the culture of commercialism and a certain sense of community and class that unmistakably arose during this time period.