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ARTH 211 Design History: Week 7 Lecture and Reading Notes

by: Evelyn Li

ARTH 211 Design History: Week 7 Lecture and Reading Notes ARTH 211

Marketplace > University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign > Art History > ARTH 211 > ARTH 211 Design History Week 7 Lecture and Reading Notes
Evelyn Li
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These notes cover both lectures AND the readings this week. If you don't have time for the readings here they are--short and concise :) We covered modernism, architecture, and the housing crisis.
Design History Survey
Class Notes
Design, history, modernism, Architecture, International, style, housing, crisis, Levitttown, Case, study, house, program, Ludwig, mies, van, Der, rohe, prefabrication, storage, walls
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This 9 page Class Notes was uploaded by Evelyn Li on Thursday October 6, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to ARTH 211 at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign taught by Weissman in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 15 views. For similar materials see Design History Survey in Art History at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.


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Date Created: 10/06/16
LECTURE 10.3.16  Themes o Modernism and Architecture in Post-WWII America  Private homes  Case Study Project  Farnsworth o Corporate buildings  Seagram (Mies van der Rohe)  Names/Terms o Frank Lloyd Wright o Charles and Ray Eames o Eero Saarinene o Ludwig Mies van der Rohe o Case Study House Program o Corporate modernism o Skin and bones architecture o Glass curtain o Standardization o International style  Conclusion: Despite what differences exist between “high design” and products of mass culture—both equated technology, leisure, and material prosperity with the achievement of democratic ideals in a capitalist society o Unlike in Europe, avant-garde design in the US isn’t associated with social upheaval or revolution o The architecture we will talk about today are largely funded by the private sector (because of there is a weak public sector) o In the US, modernism in architecture isn’t ideologically driven  Ludwig Mies van der Rohe o “Less is more”  Peter Behrens coined it  But Mies van der Rohe said that it meant something different to him—referred to efforts to reduce and distill buildings and their components into simple forms in which geometry and materials were integrated o Exhibition House, German Building Exhibition, Berlin  End of his early career  Very clean, open, and bright  Everything’s connected (openness instead of privacy)  Fluidity between interior and exterior spaces  Designed the furniture that would go in the house as well  Flat and rectangular  Horizontality instead of verticality  Compared to Frank Lloyd Wright, Robie House  Similar horizontality  Similar rectangularity  Wright’s house is made of brick in contrast to more Modernist buildings that are made of glass and steel (like Mies van der Rohe’s buildings)  Wright’s house more ornate/decorated (windows, wood, etc.)  In modernism, there’s the idea that parts can be prefabricated and then put together—you would never see this in Wright’s house  Video o Wright developed the “prairie style”  Flat, expansive  Sloping roofs  Open plans of rooms that flow into each other o Robie House  Robie wanted a Frank Lloyd house before he even knew who he was  One of Wright’s best and most favorite works  Housing Dilemma o Housing was in big demand Post-WWII (veterans coming home and people leaving the city) o People can’t afford a Wright house—they can’t pay an architect to design their home o So suburbia is born o Abraham, William, and Alfred Levitt (Levitt and Sons), Cape Code House for Levittown, Long Island, NY  Start seeing houses like these  They were inexpensive and fast  Built on slabs instead of foundations  Becomes part of the American Dream o Driving is important because people are farther from the city o Shopping becomes important as well o Two sides to the housing coin  Growth in housing developing (for veterans and people fleeing the city) (Levittown)  Number of institutions that want to promote buildings/homes that aren’t anti- modern  Case Study House Program o Trying to stop sloppy construction of houses o John Entenza initiated this program o Idea for mass housing (but failed because it was used for the wealthy) o Manifesto called for the application of wartime technology to the construction of post-war housing o Imagine a family’s functional needs in a home, have an esteemed architect design the home, and then build it, using modern materials o Eames House  Use prefabricated materials and standard components  Easy to build  Modern  Recalls De Stijl design  Two floors  Steel frame  Interior was pretty cluttered, unlike other Case Study Houses  Feels warm and cozy o Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Farnsworth House, Plano, IL  Open everywhere—there’s no privacy  Designed to seem to float in the air  Roof and floor are exactly the same width/depth even though they were radically different weights  Was flooded at one point  Compared to the Schroder House  Similar horizontality and verticality  But no idea of changing society of people 10.5.16  Themes o Modernism and Architecture in Post-WWII America  Private homes  Case Study Project  Farnsworth  Corporate buildings  Seagram (Mies van der Rohe) o Modern furniture design (negotiating a path away from streamlining and Bauhaus)  Organic design at Cranbrook  George Nelson for Herman Miller  “Good Design” exhibitions at MoMA  Names/Terms o Buckminster Fuller o Ludwig Mies van der Rohe o Case Study House Program o Corporate modernism o Skin and bones architecture o Glass curtain o Standardization o International style o Charles and Ray Eames o Cranbrook Academy o Eero Saarinen o Florence Knoll o Eliot Noyes o Irving Harper o George Nelson o Herman Miller  Case Study Homes o Prefabricated materials to make structures that were modern o Middle class people were not logically going to move into these luxurious homes  Storage Walls o Designed by George Nelson o Practical attempts to modernize (or to give the appearance of modernism to) homes through the introduction of these modular structures o Life cover, Storagewall, January 1944  Why this huge mess in the front of the picture?  Capitalism and all the abundance it can provide o Both useful and efficient o Get rid of the narrow, cramped closets and replace with storage walls (which function as a wall and a closet). o A place for everything and everything in its place o Make objects disappear/invisible  Key to an idea of modernism  Houses aren’t places for nostalgia but a place for efficient living  Connected to this desire to make objects invisible, there is desire to hide social relationship o Active storage  Things stored in the wall would be used o Managing  Organizing data of the home o Advertised for women  These walls are how women managed their homes  A place where she can express herself o A site for reassembling the post-war home o Never actually cleans up all the mess o An emergence of two competing, dialectic models of the home  1) Concept of the home as a memory space  2) Concept of the home as a storage space  Case Study Homes, Levittown Homes, and that come in a kit (Buckminster Fuller) o Buckminster Fuller, Wichita house, Beech Aircraft Corp, 1946 o House comes in a returnable tube and you build it yourself o Made out of sheet metal  Idea is that the metal is recycled from war planes into these homes  Industrial Designers o Industrial designers have come to be respected and valued  Many designers also designed for the war o However, designers sometimes pursued crazy ideas… o Henry Dreyfuss, ConvAIRCAR, Consolidated Vultee Aircraft Corp, 1947  Car attached to plane so it could fly  Failed utterly  Still has a tear-drop shape (streamlining)  Architecture o Ludwig Mies van der Rohe  860/880 Lake Shore Dive, Chicago, 1951  Big, blocky, ugly  Lots of windows  Standardization/modularity  Loved 3 by 5 proportion  Rational approach to architecture  Construction should be functional  Without decoration  Materials that were used should be made visible  But some of his buildings aren’t as rational as they appear  Local building codes required that all load-bearing elements had to be coated in concrete – For Mies, this destroys the purity of the structure  Encases the columns with steel after putting the concrete on o An aesthetic decision o Making it look like the structure is exposed when it’s really hidden  Seagram Building  Built in international style o International style  Developed in the mid-twentieth century  Qualities o Rectilinear forms o Surfaces are stripped of ornamentation o Open interiors o Desire to make the buildings look weightless o Materials: glass and steel (and less visible concrete)  Response to…  An increasing dissatisfaction with the use of decorative elements  The fact that there’s lot of office buildings being constructed (need)  New building technologies  Expressed the belief that the form and appearance of modern buildings should natural grow out of and communicate the potentialities of their materials and structural engineering  Aesthetic rationale for modern buildings (skyscrapers)—a symbol of American corporate power  Good Design o In opposition to throwaway culture o High design operating in a capitalist society o Cranbrook Academy  Alvar Alto, Model No.41, Lounge Chair, 1931-32  Designed for hospitals  Eero Saarinen, Womb Chair, 1946  Florence Knoll, Chair, 1955  Organic form ~ CONTINED IN NEXT WEEKS NOTES READINGS Obituary, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, New York Times  Mies dies at age 83 in August, 1969  Expressed Industrial Spirit o Great artists-architect-philosophers of his age th o Expressed the spirit of the industrial 20 century o “Architecture is the will of an epoch translated into space.” ~ Mies o Believed that a building should be a statement of its times  Invented the concept of ribbon windows (uninterrupted bands of glass between the finished faces of concrete slabs)  His buildings were simple and detailed  Didn’t live in his own buildings because he thought the tenants would bother him  Chairs o Very spare like his buildings o MR chair o Barcelona chair o Tugendhat chair o Brno chair  Didn’t receive recognition in America until after he turned 50  Believed order, logic, and clarity  Seagram Building o Pure line, fine materials, and detailing o Set in a plaza of granite o The city’s most costly office building at the time  “Less is more.” ~ Mies  Mies favorite buildings o Crown Hall o Chicago Federal Center o Seagram o 860-880 Lake Shore Dr.  Father was a mason  VP of the DWB from 1926-1932 and director of Bauhaus from 1930 until its close  Emigrated to America to head the School of Architecture at the Armour (now Illinois) Institute of Technology in Chicago o Taught small groups of students o Didn’t’ talk much o Discouraged self-expression Alan Colquhoun, “Pax Americana: Architecture in American 1945-1965,” Modern Architecture  American lacked the social aspects of artistic avant-garde movements that Europe had o They emphasized style instead  After WII, American emerged as a dominant power and there developed a trust in American capitalism  The idea of prefabrication of materials came about  Most projects were privately funded  Case Study House Program o The individual house was an important factor in the birth of the Modern Movement o California (specifically LA) was open to new housing developments – it was here that the Case Study House Program conceptualized o Initated by John Entenza in collaboration with Herbert Matter, Ray and Charles Eames, Eero Saarinen, and Richard Buckminster Fuller o Manifesto promoted the belief that “art based on psychological laws and an architecture based on scientific method would lead to a unified culture in tune with the modern age”  It was not a social revolution but a revolution of aesthetics o Many of the first houses had common features but they were very different as well  Many had flat roofs and were one story  Bi-nuclear (living rooms and bedrooms remote from each other)  Though they advocated prefabrication many of the houses were built of blockwork with wood framing o Around 1950, the houses began to change—they focused on modular construction and prefabrication  Thought of assembled systems then designs  Steel frames  Simple and less picturesque  Eames House (Case Study House #8)  Two stories  Cluttered interior  Looks back to Arts and Crafts  The corporate office building o Greatest achievement of American architecture was the modern office buildings o Skidmore, Owing, and Merril (SOM) were the leaders of this development  First SOM building was the Lever House  Influenced heavily by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe  An important aspect and new phenomenon was anonymity of the organization o Eero Saarinen  A building should express its character  GM Technical Center in Warren Michigan o Mies van der Rohe in America  His designs provided the syntax for the corporate buildings of SOM and Saarinen  Found a typical, rational solution and repeated it in all his designs  I-beams  Read as both mullions and columns  Despite that fact that he rejected individualism, Mies’s “minimal forms are still rhetorical and speak of the remnants of a high art tradition  Countercurrents o Critique of corporatism  David Riesman and William H. Whyte saw corporation as “dehumanized collective producing a new type ‘other directed’ character, nervously conforming to the options of corporate peers  They though individualism was a critical American value  C. Wright Mills thought that corporate capitalism (with its links to the government and the military) could lead to totalitarianism o Beyond rationalism: desire and community  “Styling” in automobiles set the stage for industrial designers (Dreyfuss, Lowey, Bel Geddes)  The idea of tailoring the market for the consumer opposed the Werkbund-Bauhaus ideal of universal norms of taste  Architecture tried to introduce monumentality in opposition to rationalism o Louis Kahn  Critiqued Modernism subtly  A fusion of neoclassicism and structural organicism in his work  Rejected Modernism’s idea of the “free plan,” which uncoupled form from structure Phyllis Lambert, “Space and Structure,” and “The Seagram Building,” Mies in America  Space and Structure o “Crystallization, giving permanent form and structure to a substance and the phenomenon of transparency together define the physical and poetic reaches of Mies art o Clear-Span: The Farnsworth House, Plano, IL (1945-51)  Pure, glass, steel, and space  Land was prefigured by Mies twelve years earlier in 1933  “Simplicity of construction, clarity of tectonic means, and purity of material shall be the bearers of a new beauty.” ~ Mies  Mies thought of a house similar to Farnsworth in 1934 and the Farnsworth commission gave him the opportunity to expand on the dream  Believed in the idea of “free space/plan” (all open space except for free standing structures of the core of the house)  Mies finalized his ideas in 1949—welded steel frame, wide-flane H columns, and bar-stock framing the sheets of glass  This house was an example of the “difficult art of the simple.”  Farnsworth gave Mies free rein of the house, letting him design it as he would for himself  Used Roman travertine for the base  A dialogue in the house of architecture and nature  House was built in relation to an huge, old linden tree  The Seagram Building o Clear structure and composition – no individuality o Believed in the relevance of architecture to its time o The Seagram Building was the to the headquarters of Joseph E. Seagram and Sons o Built is like any other building he ever designed o Put a lot of thought into how the building stand in relation to the spaces and buildings around it o Set the building back from the building line—opening up space in the city’s fabric  This decision resulted in a need to expand the site  Created a plaza in front of the building o Plaza was originally meant to have fixed sculpture installed there but it didn’t work out so they put in fountains instead with the idea that temporary sculpture could be install periodically o The material qualities of the building are “integral to its urban presence” o “The success of Seagram lay in the discipline of structure and enclosure, the quality of the materials, and the refinements of the curtain wall.”


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