Architecture is always evolving.
Like all professions, architecture continues to evolve. Despite differing styles, a few trends are here to stay, though, thanks to changes in technology and philosophy.
Enter glass, concrete and steel—and the concepts of form follows function and minimalism. Modern architecture, emerging around the turn of the 20th century, became the dominant form until after World War II, reigning supreme until postmodernism emerged in the 1960s and began to prevail from the 1980s on. Postmodernism was a reaction to the austerity and formality of modern architecture, and offered complexity, curved forms, ornament, and color—often borrowing elements from styles of the past. Materials evolved too, with special metals, plastics, and composite woods all supporting the creative achievements of today’s architects.
But a picture is worth a thousand words, so check out some
landmarks—and their architects—in the modern and postmodern styles.
The Villa Savoye in Poissy,
Embodying his Five Points of Architecture, the villa was… "poetry and lyricism, supported by technique," in the words of this pioneer of modern architecture and the International Style. Corbu, as he’s known, designed buildings all over the world, and was also renowned for his influence on urban planning and his urban development plans for cities in Europe, Asia, and Latin America.
Frank Lloyd Wright…
Falling Water, Pennsylvania, 1935.
Clean lines and horizontal planes were the hallmark of the
Prairie Style, created by Frank Lloyd Wright, probably the
most famous twentieth century American architect.
Mies van der Rohe...
Glass House Apartments, Chicago, 1951
Sleek and modern, with exposed steel elements, characterized many minimalist structures by this German-born architect and director of the Bauhaus, who coined the phrase "less-is-more". Head of architecture at what’s now the Illinois Institute of Technology, he designed several buildings for the campus, including S.R. Crown Hall, considered the quintessence of Miesian architecture.
Mies van der Rohe...
SR Crown Hall
Illinois Institute of Technology,
Natalie de Blois…
New York City, 1952
As a female partner in a major architectural firm (SOM), de Blois played a leading role in the creation of modernist icons such as Lever House, Pepsi-Cola World Headquarters, and Union Carbide Headquarters, which began the transition of New York’s Park Avenue to a street of glass-tower skyscrapers.
Vanna Venturi House
Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania, 1964
“Less is a bore,” said this pioneer of postmodernism, whose house for his mother favored asymmetry, playfulness, and richness of style rather than the strict minimal approach prevalent at the time—themes that go double for his Children’s Museum in Houston. He used a mix of facades and familiar forms like peaked roofs, and didn’t follow strict rules.
Houston Children's Museum
Houston, Texas, 1980
World Trade Towers, 1973.
Iconic twin towers flanking an open plaza was Yamasaki’s solution to a near impossible brief, 12 million square feet of building on 16 acres, over subway lines and next to the Hudson River. The towers dominated the Manhattan skyline for decades before being destroyed on 9/11.
Eero Saarinen…TWA Terminal
JFK International Airport,
New York, 1962
Curves and swoops, architecture taking flight, were a futuristic contrast to the prevailing box-like International Style buildings of the era. TWA may have folded its wings, but its building now lives on as a high-tech, first class 512-room hotel with multiple restaurants and bars, all with a 1960s retro vibe. The new hotel and restaurant complex is a prime example of an imaginative renovation and reuse of an iconic structure. The coolest airport hotel in the world? Some say totally!
A high-tech, structural expression is the dominant feature of this world-class museum, which wears its heating and plumbing systems on the outside.
Pyramid at the Louvre, 1988
Strong geometric shapes abound in structures around the world by this Chinese-born starchitect, who some claim gave the 20th century many of its most distinctive buildings.
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame,
Cleveland, Ohio, 1995
Kyoto, Japan, 1997
Walt Disney Concert Hall,
Los Angeles, California, 2003
Gehry, considered a master sculptor, favors unusual sculptural forms and textures in his work. In this breathtaking structure, the shape of the striking steel-covered building followed from the need to create first-class acoustics in the interior of the hall.
Beijing International Airport
By this world-renowned Iraqi born female architect whose work is futuristic and progressive, it will be the world’s largest airport, expected to serve 72 million and later up to 100 million passengers with its unique radial design.