City 255: Period 5 Readings, 1945-95

Clausen, Meredith, "Belluschi and the Equitable Building in History," The Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians Vol. 50 (1991): pp.109-129. [lw]

a) Frame: The article describes the building process of the Equitable Building in Portland, focusing on its innovative design and concepts.
b) Point: The author notes the importance of the Equitable building as a pivotal moment in the history of modern architecture because of the technology used and the perception of the architect about what the space was for. Though the Equitable building itself was not the first of its kind, its technological innovation used was. The building used aluminum alloy, acoustical paneling, fluorescent lighting, and a revolutionary heating and air conditioning system. The author describes the building as the perfect fusion of and function in that it was sleek but also logical, economical, and efficient. Belluschi’s sensitivity to the psychological wellbeing of the people inside made the building desirable to tenets and a continued success. Though externally the building reflects a perfect Miesian design, the interior accommodations shows that Belluschi was also concerned with the client, balancing his desired design with the client’s needs.

Friedman, Alice, "People Who Live in Glass Houses", Eggener, Keith, American Architectural History: A Contemporary Reader (New York, 2004), pp. 316-341. [lw]

a) Frame: The article discusses to what extent the clients’ needs played out in form in the Glass House architecture of the Philip Johnson and Farnsworth houses.
b) Point: While Mies Van der Rohe’s Farnsworth house was the embodiment of his "less is more" ideals, and the house exhibited elegance and simplicity of form, the author describes Ms. Farnsworth as a victim to Mies’ unyielding architectural vision. Ms. Farnsworth was a single professional woman who didn’t fit the celebrated mold of marriage and family life. While the house exhibits a denial of these family values, Farnsworth claimed that the house further repressed her sexuality and that the transparency of the building denied her privacy. There is a disparity between the vision of the architect and the needs of the client. This was not so much a problem for Philip Johnson who was the architect of his own glass house. The author states that because Johnson was an open homosexual, there is a strong connection between the design and challenges of normalcy. The much overlooked brick guesthouse shows that Philip recognizes the need for a private space. To me, the international style for housing is more of a physical and aesthetic experience rather than a functional one.

L. Mumford, "Monumentality, Symbolism, and Style, 1949."(pg. 545-558) in Leland Roth, ed., America Builds (New York, 1983). [pp]

Frame: This article discusses the intent of Modern Architecture and the International Style, the influence of painting, the importance of style and the concept of Monumentalism
Point: The point of this reading is to give readers an in depth look into the various things that influenced the styles of this time. This reading talks about Monumentality as a dangerous concept to use because of its unfortunate connotations, empty grandeur, pretentious display and over forced impressiveness.

Ksiazek, Sarah. "Architectural Culture in the Fifties: Louis Kahn and the National Assembly Complex in Dhaka". The Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Vol. 52, No. 4 (Dec. 1993), pgs. 416-435 [edv]

Ksiazek describes architectural trends of the 1950's such as new
monumentality, humanism and regionalism, and analyzes Louis Kahn's
response to these trends in the National Assembly Complex in Dhaka,
Bangladesh.
In building the National Assembly Complex, Kahn utilized aspects of
humanism and regionalism ideologies in an effort to create a monument
to the democratic idealism of America. The building celebrated the
involvement of the individual in civic develipment and culture.

Ksiazek, Sarah, "Architectural Culture in the Fifties: Louis Kahn and the National Assembly Complex in Dhaka," The Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians Vol. 52 (1993): pp. 416-435. [lw]

a) Frame: The article explores the relationship between architectural themes of the late 1950’s and Kahn’s work, specifically on the National Assembly Complex in Dhaka.
b) Point: The article discusses two sides of a conversation; the first about architectural themes emerging in the late 1950’s surrounding the concern with community and democratic public life, and second, about Kahn’s reaction to these concerns. An increasing amount of people living within the confines of the family unit encouraged architects to inspire community by creating large public spaces with a symbolic focus. Subsequent ideal emerged, such as new humanism, which used geometric motifs, and new regionalism, which was sensitive to the local environment of the building space. The article describes Kahn as the champion of new humanism as shown through his complex is Dhaka. The building fosters democracy because Kahn believed that architecture should express the essence of an institution. I believe that the respect Kahn showed for the culture and environment of the building space is what made it so successful as a civic center.

"Architectural Culture in the Fifties: Louis Kahn and the National Assembly Complex in Dhaka," by Sarah Ksiazek. The Journal of the Society of Arcitectural Historians, Vol. 52, No. 4 (Dec. 1993), 416-435. [pp]

Frame: This article talks about the architectural discourse of the late fifties and how several of its dominant themese reveal an underlying concern with community and public life. It also analyzes Louis Kahn’s responses, as reflected in his project for the National Assembly complex in Bangladesh. Furthermore, it addresses the various architectural trends of the fifties, such as the new monumentality, humanism and regionalism.
Point: The point of this article is to explore the architectural culture of the fifties and to analyze Louis Kahn’s ideology and response to it, as reflected in his National Assembly complex in Dhaka. Further, to expose readers to new humanism and regionalism and their influences.

Clausen, Meredith. "Northgate Regional Shopping Center-Paradigm from the Provinces". The Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Vol. 43, No. 2 (May, 1984), pgs. 144-161 [edv]

This articles discusses the development and building of Northgate
Shopping Center, the first regional retail center.
Clausen argues that teh regional shopping center has had a significant
impact on the social, economic, and physical conditions of America.

Wheeler, Robert C. "Frank Lloyd Wright Filling Station, 1958". The Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Vol. 19, No. 4 (Dec. 1960), pg. 174-175 [edv]

Wheeler describes the goals of Frank Lloyd Wright in building a new
filling station.
Wright hoped to add architectural and artistic style to the urban
utilitarian gas station. Wright felt that the gas station should
be at the center of a shopping area to generate the most possible
business.

Jane C. Loeffler, "The Architecture of Diplomacy: Heyday of the United States Embassy-Building Program, 1954-1960," The Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Vol. 49, No. 3 (Sep., 1990): 251-278. [ag]

Frame: After World War II the building of US embassies was intensified and the new building program was supposed to not only be sensitive to local traditions and architecture but the buildings were also supposed to be American. She discusses twelve embassies built not only in Western Europe but also Africa and the Middle East. There were multiple problems facing each of these buildings including how to sufficiently balance local traditions with American ones, the difficulties of a non-American work force, and a different climate.
Point: Loeffler argues that regardless of whether or not the embassies successfully balanced local and American architecture, the use of contemporary architecture free from stereotypically American styles like the colonial, allowed for a diversity of architecture that was unusual for any public American building program. The embassies went beyond projecting an image of America and her government, but rather the diversity of forms and styles allowed these buildings to be conceived as works of architecture.

Loeffler, Jane C. "The Architecture of Diplomacy: Heyday of the United States Embassy-Building Program, 1954-1960" The Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians. 49:3 (Sept. 1990): 251-278. [kc]

Loeffler argues that there were/are four ways for sensitive
foreign buildings to be distinctively American. That is to use images or
themes associated with American architecture. To use an understated,
"very ordinary office block," or "simply to declare the building
"American.‚" (274) And what comes across for Loeffler in the contemporary
debates that surrounded this approach was that many were uncomfortable
with the exclusive, architecturally focused approach of the 1954 building
program. But the AIA and Architectural League of New York saw the program
as a democratic mission. Through process (how the building was built,
through proposal, application and committee modification and selection)
and product (the final image, how the building looks) people contributed.
And ultimately, Loeffler says, the fate of the program "rested in the
hands of public opinion in the United States" (277) And this is where
the embassies fail to a certain extent. Instead of being like the "common
man,‚ diplomats worked in modern, progressive buildings, shielded by
screens in buildings that emphasized their surface, not "strength and
determination" (278) Here Loeffler comes across a critical point, that
"architects are not, by tradition, populists at heart" (278) The debate
over the program and its buildings is indicative of a larger struggle in
the American tradition, how to reconcile modern, technologically advanced
approaches with the popular veneration of "local,‚ "vernacular‚ of the
American tradition as representative of the democratic tradition abroad.

Loeffler, Jane , "The Architecture of Diplomacy: Heyday of the US Embassy Building Program 1954-1960," The Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians Vol. 49 (1990): pp.251-278. [lw]

a) Frame: The article explores the building of American Embassies across the world in the 1950’s and presents the architect’s dilemma of having the Embassy fit the local scene and be American at the same time.
b) Point: Architects commissioned by the government to build embassies faced the problem of having the building fit the local scene, but be distinctly American simultaneously. Early embassies were built in the International Style, but showed nothing that was distinctly American nor reflective of the country where it was being built. An American organization, the FBO, was formed to discuss what an appropriate architecture was for embassies and decided on concepts of new regionalism to adapt the building to its environment. While this shows the ability of US architects to build sensitive structures, the embassies usually fell short as symbols of America. To me, this is a reflection of a struggle of American architects to define what American architecture is when trying to apply it to international buildings.

"The Architecture of Diplomacy: Heyday of the United States Embassy-Building Program, 1954-1960," by Jane C. Loeffler. The Journal of the Society of Arcitectural Historians, Vol. 49, No. 3 (Sept. 1990), 251-278. [pp]

Frame: This article discusses various American Embassy buildings around the world, addressing the materials used and the style that they were built in. It also takes into account the budget, climate conditions and historical setting that were taken into consideration by architects when they designed these buildings.
Point: To show how American wanted to portray itself to the rest of the world, through the architecture of its embassies. Also to explain how architects were challenged to produce designs that would harmonize with differing local conditions, respect local customs, and respond to history.

Robert Venturi, excerpt from Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture, 1966. pp. 599-618. [ka]

Writing from the perspective of the architect, Venturi denounces the
simplicity and straight lines of modernism for an architecture based on
experience, the everyday, and quite literally 'complexities and
contradictions'. By redefining available methods and means into something
more expressive in its "discontinuity with structural continuity", this
excerpt cites changing technologies, current art movements (i.e. Pop Art),
and vernacular architecture as components for a new architecture.

Annmarie Adams. "The Eichler Home: Intention and Experience in Postwar Suburbia", Perspectives in Vernacular Architecture: Gender, Class, and Shelter, vol. 5 (1995), pp. 164-178. [ka]

Adams discusses the intentions and effects of 'The Eichler Home' kind of
suburbia in relation to the role of women in the household during the
post-war era. Using a particular family's history (the Clarksons), Adams
argues that the way in which the house was arranged denoted limited power
to women and automatically linked "maternal power with domestic
technology". Although in the case of the Clarkson family the usage of the
house was not precisely as originally envisioned, the isolation of women
from the social, economic, and political opportunities of city life were
still apparent.

Chase, John. "The Role of Consumerism in American Architecture" Journal
of Architectural Education
. 44:4 (Aug. 1991): 211-224. [kc]

Point: Chase actually aims to tackle the question of the
appropriateness/or effectiveness of "high art,‚ modernist forms in today‚s
consumer architecture. Whereas Gowans describes the functions of such
architecture as imagery, illustration, beautification and conviction and
persuasion, the architects of this era (like Le Corbusier and Gropius)
were unconcerned with these functions. (220) In Deconstruction and other
post-modern developments, Chase says, "instead of seeking cultural
communication, architecture, in their view, should make explicit its
purported obliteration," contradicting with "the nature of architecture as
a socially based, applied art form" (223) I think Chase eventually
reaches a dismal conclusion on the "state‚ of consumerist architecture,
that in the commodification of products and ultimately their
interconnection with our lives, consumerist architecture has itself become
a commodity, losing its significance of meaning in form and production.
He addresses some interesting issues about the transformation of the
American capitalist and consumer landscape and touches on individual
architects and their relationships with building type and form, but in the
end, this article was a little scattered, and maybe too theoretical for me
to advance my sense of formal and technological innovations during this
period.

Goss, Jon. "The 'Magic of the Mall‚: An Analysis of Form, Function, and Meaning in the Contemporary Retail Built Environment."Annals of the Association of American Geographers. 83:1 (Mar. 1993), 18-47. [kc]

"The shopping center appears to be everything that it is not. It
contrives to be a public, civic place even though it is private and run
for profit; it offers a place to commune and recreate, while it seeks
retail dollars; and it borrows signs of other places and times to obscure
its rootedness in contemporary capitalism" (40) Goss wants to "retrieve
these spaces from such calculated [elite] control" (41) Goss argues for
five different ways in which this may be achieved. (41-42) But I am less
concerned about what Goss wants to happen than the process he has
described. It is important to constantly look at the American landscape
as a dialogue of architectural innovation, capitalist interests and
consumption and their interplay with public, civilian needs. It is hard
to argue that the controlled elements of image, space and symbolization in
the shopping center do not in fact heed to the opposing actions and
ideologies of the average American shopper. For Goss, our own downfall
has meant that "the nostalgia we experience for authenticity, commerce,
and carnival lies precisely in the loss of our ability [to that of
designers and developers] to collectively create meaning by occupying and
using social spaces for ourselves" (43)

Pommer, Richard. "Architecture and the Collective Consumer." Assemblage, No 8. February 1989, pp 124-131. [jfp]

This article analyzes the new directions that architecture has taken in the mid to late twenty-first century as a result of ideological and political shifts, generally toward a more conservative, populist ideology that is expressed in many buildings. Pommer suggests that reviving classical forms after World War II was really an expression of a conscious disengagement from the underside of industrial society for several reasons. He lays out the arguments for moving away from modernist architecture that have been made (especially in Europe in countries like Germany and Russia, where modernist architecture symbolized the rule of the totalitarian governments of WWII), but makes a strong argument against this "necessary" condemnation of a form because of its association with a particular political ideology. He suggests that expressing political leanings in this era of architecture is not the correct solution to examining or forgetting the atrocities of the past, whether the lean embraces populism or leans toward collective welfare.

Payne, Alina A. "Architectural History and the History of Art." Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians. Vol 58, No. 3. Architectural History 1999/2000. September 1999. Pp 292-299. [jfp]

Payne discusses in this article the gradual withdrawal of the field of architectural history from academic art history studies in the late twenty-first century. She analyzes the causes and results of this phenomena, pointing out what the academic fields have both lost and gained by this separation. She points out that the specialization of architectural history as its own field, separate from the history of art, causes there to be a loss in the overall academic dialogue between different areas. This results in fewer academics and academic sources that can provide comprehensive or analytical comment on the relationship between art history and architectural history, losing a sense of the full dialogue. On the other hand, Payne also points out the many gains that this specialization and break-away have caused. When architectural history began to become distinct and separate from art history, it was more readily adopted by architectural schools as a practical field of study that can be applied to architecture in practice. She says that art history, on the other hand, has not made this huge and contributive leap into the practical realm of the art world. This specialization has allowed a more comprehensive study and attention to architectural history to be injected into how architecture is practiced today.

Ghirardo, Diane. "Past or Post Modern in Architectural Fashion." Journal of Architectural Education. Vol 39, No. 4. (Summer 1986), pp 1-6. [jfp]

In this article, Ghirardo examines and critiques two interpretations of post modernist architectural schools of thought: stylistic post modernism and theoretical post modernism. She compares the two and their underlying meanings, but maintains that she is not supporting either theory. In fact, toward the end of the paper she seems to be refuting both, saying that America must head in a new direction. Stylistic post modernism, she says, embraces all that the modernist movement rejected: ornament, historical allusion, color, and humanity. It is entirely focused on the outward representation of architectural ideals, and not the way in which these ideals affect society. She criticizes this post modernism as bordering on pastiche, with too much trivialization of social and political significance of architecture, making stylistic post modernism something that mainly appealed to the well-to-do romantic societies. Theoretical post modernism, on the other hand, is described by Ghirardo as having an overwhelming amount of analysis of the social and political significance of architecture, analyzing the "crisis of the profession" that is caused by too little attention to these things. Theoretical post modernism does not romanticize or focus on the picturesque the way stylistic post modernism does, but rather examines and separates it into theories and diverse categories, analyzing the significance of each instead of celebrating a pastiche of old ideas and human elements. Again, Ghirardo does not advocate for one or the other schools of thought, but actually suggests that both are selectively misreading history by focusing too much on either the style or theory behind post modernism. She does not suggest a specific solution, but it is clear that a fusion of these two ideas might be acceptable to her.

Adi Shamir Zion. "New Motion: Architecture in the Age of Digital Technology", Assemblage, vol. 35 (1998), pp. 62-79. [ka]

Using examples that span from Leonardo da Vinci's Notebooks to Mies's
Barcelona Pavilion, Zion attempts to define the path of a new architecture
in this increasingly digital age. Using the Gates house as an example, the
article picks apart each major aspect of the structure and relates it to a
period in history, architectural or otherwise. Zion also explores concepts
of space in digital technology and how this has been and will be
translated into spatial planning physically in architecture.

Ockman, Joan, "Mirror Images: Technology, Consumption, and the Representation of Gender in American Architecture since WWII," Eggener, Keith, American Architectural History: A Contemporary Reader (New York, 2004), pp. 342-351. [lw]

a) Frame: The article examines two images of Post-war America, the International Style and domesticity, and how architecture reinforced this social division.
b) Point: The author presents two images: the International Style of the Lever House, and the domesticity of Levittown. The International Style reflects technocracy, bureaucracy, and business, while Levittown reflects tradition and consumerism. There is an obvious dichotomy between the work world and domestic life. Architecture reinforces this social division; the men go to work in an environment that reaches toward the future, and return home to an environment that reflects the past. Even so, both Levittown and the Lever House are products of capitalism. Later architecture shows a mixing of the technocratic and consumerist societies is post modern buildings like Johnsons’ AT&T building. The notable differences between the architecture of Levittown and Lever House highlight the irony of reaching for the past and future in architecture at the same time.

Mary McLeod, "The Battle for the Monument: The Vietnam Veterans Memorial," in Keith Eggener, ed., American Architectural History (New York, 2004) 380-404. [ag]

Frame: McLeod discusses the competition and the construction of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and all of the problems that the design caused not necessarily within the architectural community but within the veteran population and Capitol Hill. She also discusses the idea of a modernist monument versus an academic and more classical monument and how each of those types was expressed.
Point: McLeod’s point is that regardless of all of the controversies surrounding the monument and the multiple opinions about it and its effectiveness; it is one of the most successful war monuments because it didn’t rewrite history. Rather unlike many of the other Washington DC monuments, it is a monument that makes people discuss and confront the realities of what happened.

Prown, Jules David. "On Being a Client". The Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Vol. 42, No. 1 (Mar. 1983), pgs. 11-14 [edv]

Prown describes his role as an architectural client during his time as
Director of the Yale Cener for British art.
Prown feels that the role of the client is one which is symbiotic to
that of the architect. The client must articulate what the building
is intended to be so that the architect may achieve that goal.

Mike Davis, "Fortress Los Angeles," in Keith Eggener, ed., American Architectural History (New York, 2004) 412-425. [ag]

Frame: Davis discusses the commercial centers of downtown Los Angeles that were begun in the 1970s and how they were not only privatized but also built inward. Davis points to Frank Gehry specifically as an architect who uses imposing undecorated facades in order to keep certain people out of the sumptuous interiors.
Point: Davis argues that the new urban form and layout of Los Angeles, as well as, some of its architecture purposefully segregates different social classes and races from one another. He believes that a "fortress effect" (pg. 416) emerged in Los Angeles architecture which caused the buildings to turn inward in order to deter certain classes from entering these public spaces. He forcefully discusses the apartheid which is taking
place in new semi-public spaces and how this reinforces the middle class’ stereotypes that the poor should be kept out of sight.