Originally Posted by mordecai
This holds if you jump from Gothic Revival and Eastlake Victorians to Rem Koolhaus. Less so if you include Burnham & Root, Greene & Greene, Louis Sullivan, Frank Lloyd Wright, George Wyman, John Parkinson, and Walter Gropius. Focusing specifically on the Le Corbusier residential space craft concept in order to dismiss Modernism as wholly ahistorical is inaccurate. Many of the forms that emerged from it are unfortunate, but so were many of the forms that were replaced.
Why are you fixated on the meaning of ahistorical? I have already explained, metaphysically this is just an illusion: if you want, we can go as far back as the Crystal Palace and the first uses of reinforced concrete to find its antecedents, but none of these have any bearing on the philosophical underpinnings of modernism which were laid out in the 1920s and 1930s by members of the International School and which came to fruition in the postwar building boom of the 50s and 60s. Of your list, only Gropius has anything to do with what I have been discussing. The American experience of modernism may be defined by the Chicago school (I don't know), but to conflate that term with with the work of van der Rohe, Gropius, and Le Corbusier is just an abuse of language. It is disingenuous to lump constructions like Pruitt-Igoe and the Bradbury building together.
Originally Posted by StephenHero
It's actually not impractical. It's extremely practical.
I take it you have never been to Montparnasse, then. It the worst-designed city space in all of Paris, imo, and the building itself is an affront to the senses in its environmental context. To add insult to injury, half of its units are empty.
It's important to note that the two single greatest contributors to the excess of bastardized brutalist/modernist architecture of the post-war period in Europe have been 1) rising labor costs related to worker demands and 2) rising energy costs. Concrete and glass are the two cheapest materials in light of those developments because of the short time needed to construct them, so any political policy that perpetuates union labor clout or energy conservation via taxation/penalties/regulation will inevitably result in that quality of architecture except in cases of extraordinary funding or design skill.
No, the two single greatest contributions were demographic growth (both rapid urbanization and rising birthrate) and the destruction wrought by the war. However, these alone cannot explain the distinctive ugliness of urban architecture in the postwar years. 'New Brutalism' (as Rayner Banham called it) was inspired by the hyper-aggressive modernism of the age and led to nightmares like the Alton estate in Roehampton, Torre Velasco in Milan, and the Tour Montparnasse. When, in March 1959, the Council of Buildings of France approved the design for the future Tour Montparnasse, their report concluded: "Paris cannot afford to lose herself in her past. In the years to come, Paris must undergo imposing metamorphoses." Steel and glass construction has existed since the 1840s and has created buildings of immense beauty, in particular many European train stations (and American, such as Penn Station). Reinforced concrete was likewise invented in the 1840s and used to great aesthetic profit in constructions like the Royal Liver building in 1911. That was a poor excuse to make a half-baked free market argument.
Postmodern architecture is a movement that uses classical architectural elements to allude to the culture behind them as a means to reinterpret their semiotic value. For example, Roman columns allude to the cultural values of democracy and justice, and so their present day use is a means to continue that tradition of language and meaning within architecture in a way that embraces the purely functional requirements of useful modernist forms (like high rise office buildings)
You are going to have to unpack this sentence for me because I don't know what it means, particularly the part about high rise office buildings.
Gehry is a deconstructivist. That movement is concerned with eliminating the semiotics of architecture and exploding existing typologies of buildings, which are accepted formal standards that lead to conventional architecture. This is done for the sake of improving the spatial experience and eliminating the restrictions of tradition that hamper the development of modern society's new living patterns.
I see. Your explanation was good, though considering that the Stata Center doesn't even fulfill the basic need of keeping water out or letting in natural light via the interior courtyards, I would say that rather than creating spaces adapted to new living patterns at least some of these attempts fail to even meet the fundamental requirements of the architect's profession.