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Modern Architecture

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Modern architecture is generally characterized by simplification of form and an absence of applied decoration. It is a term applied to an overarching movement, with its exact definition and scope varying widely.In a broader sense, early modern architecture began at the turn of the 20th century with efforts to reconcile the principles underlying architectural design with rapid technological advancement and the modernization of society. It would take the form of numerous movements, schools of design, and architectural styles, some in tension with one another, and often equally defying such classification.

The concept of modernism is a central theme in these efforts. Gaining popularity after the Second World War, architectural modernism was adopted by many influential architects and architectural educators, and continues as a dominant architectural style for institutional and corporate buildings into the 21st century. Modernism eventually generated reactions, most notably Postmodernism which sought to preserve pre-modern elements, while Neomodernism emerged as a reaction to Postmodernism.

Notable architects important to the history and development of the modernist movement include Le Corbusier, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Walter Gropius, Frank Lloyd Wright, Louis Sullivan, Gerrit Rietveld, Oscar Niemeyer and Alvar Aalto.

Wright’s Larkin Building (1904) in Buffalo, New York, Unity Temple (1905) in Oak Park, Illinois, and the Robie House (1910) in Chicago, Illinois were some of the first examples of modern architecture in the United States.

Frank Lloyd Wright was a major influence on European architects, including both Walter Gropius (founder of the Bauhaus) and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, as well as on the whole of organic architecture. Gropius claimed that his “bible” for forming the Bauhaus was 100 Frank Lloyd Wright drawings that the architect shared with Germany over a decade prior to this point, the Wasmuth Portfolio. While Wright’s career would parallel that of European architects, he refused to be categorized with them, claiming that they copied his ideas. Many architects in Germany[who?] believed that Wright’s life would be wasted in the United States, since the US was not ready for his newer architecture. During the 1930s, Wright would experiment with his Usonian ideas for a uniquely U.S. American (i.e. “US-onian”) take on modernism. It would be several decades before European architects would in turn bring their version of modern architecture to the United States.

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