Okay. Here goes. The early Modernists were concerned with the increasing role of technology and science as a means to improve daily life. They were reading medical and psych. journals about empirical evidence used to understand why some designs produced better, healthier domestic life. LeCorbusier coined the term "machines for living" to describe their ideal product with this new mindset towards building that embraced a technological revolution based on quantitatively improving life. This manifested itself practically by shunning "worthless" ornamentation in design and stripping designs down to a formal and structural purity that would create an "international style." This style placed the rationality of the engineer before the irrationality and intuition of the artist/architect in the hierarchy of design. Through its formal simplicity, it could be replicated on a large, grid-like scale to serve as many people as possible and accommodate car traffic and other means of 20th century living. The modernists started designing on a small scale, but as their influence increased they became more ambitious in their utopian realizations. They sought to tear down cities like Paris that were seen as quirky and inhospitable to this new revolution of living. An ideal urban planning proposal below. The problem was that people simply rejected this style over time as sterile and hostile to the senses. The potential positives of modern living were secondary to people's perception of modernism, which was that they were were being disregarded as insignificant, serialized lab rats. The materiality of the modernists was monolithic and artificial: white concrete, black steel, tinted glass, etc. In that search for purity in a new "international style" they neglected the site specific influence of architecture that had dominated for centuries. For example, Romans built with travertine. Brazilians built with soft woods. Northern Europeans built with hard timber. Americans built with brick. People are inherently nostalgic, and the ingrained familiarity of material and form in their regional surroundings caused for any new attempt to disregard that tradition to be seen as an attack on their cultural heritage and memory. So the postmodernists understood this and embraced people's irrational way of living that was less concerned with technology and more influenced by the value of cultural reinforcers like the American Dream, baseball, or kisses under clocks in train stations . They decided to use old classical forms and hybridized symbols to create an architecture that was more concerned with the "language and meaning" of design. Ornamentation was not a problem for them because it simply provided delight. The search for purity was considered nonsensical. They recognized the connotations of architectural forms and used them for no purpose at all. Classical columns meant "justice, democracy, etc". Pitched roofs meant "homely, warm, and comforting." They studied and published extensively on historical examples and created new buildings that were supposed to mediate between new modern uses (office towers for examples) and classical, familiar language. This is what you get. It's important to understand that postmodernists were academic in one sense, but lighthearted in another. They rejected the exclusive, elitist intellectual circle surrounding the Bauhaus, but at the same time Postmodernists were using a very rigid dogma to create their buildings. In a sense, their designs were supposed to be justified by the thinking behind them. They took the liberty to create buildings that went beyond historical and into the realm of stupid and humorous. Historical allusions could not be considered wrong no matter what context. Again, people soon became sick of this. People wanted the connection to the past, but they wanted it in a less offensive and satirical way. Buildings are experienced perceptively rather than intellectually, so an intellectual process to assign qualitative value to them in order to justify their existence was soon seen as futile. So the postmodernists lost too. There is no straightforward lineage of design after the late 80's. The profession had a schism that created many different branches. You had some that decided post modernism was still beneficial but incorrectly implemented. So those people went with very straightforward interpretations of historical buildings without the humour. Example from Robert Stern: Others returned to the value of modernism's purity and simplicity and tried to introduce humanist, organic influence where the Bauhaus had neglected to. Minimalism emerged, which concerns itself with spatial clarity that brings attention to living's essence and emphasizes an awareness of light as it changes throughout the day cycle. Minimalism is a neutral canvas for life's chaos. Deconstructivism emerged. They want to overthrow building typologies (default arrangements of program) and create exciting space for the sake of new exciting spaces. They explore volumetrics to find more dynamic arrangements of solids and voids. This is rooted in the writings of Kandinsky and Malevich on the the emotional influence of color and form in composition. Derrida is an influence so lots of mental masturbation and narcissistic self satisfaction is involved. Malevich painting turns to Zaha Hadid painting which turns to building Frank is one of them. Hypermodernism emerged. They are concerned with diverse sources of inspiration and material inventiveness that is connected to the context of the building site. For example, a project in the Middle East could use a traditional Arabic font that is transformed into a pattern to create a unique light filtering system. The tension between formal clarity of the modernist dogma and complex ornamental abstraction is the basic idea they explore. Structural innovation is used to create radically logical forms. Herzog & de Meuron and Rem Koolhaas are near the front of that group. Ambient architecture is a cousin of hypermodernism which concerns itself with architecture as a theatrical backdrop. The idea is to create buildings that are defined by the mood one wishes to create. Experimental lighting, media integration, and layering of transparency is used to create an aura of the ephemeral. Jean Nouvel is the big name. The last twenty years has basically been a competition to influence the public to see the merits of your way of designing. It's left us with a fragmented and interesting, but sometimes incoherent or uncomplimentary context. The goal is finding the right balance between loud signature architecture and quiet contextually aware architecture. The signature architecture can effectively be used to transform cities (Bilbao), create exciting spaces, or simply make us happy. Quiet, respectful architecture can find its place by serving modern uses in a way that doesn't disrupt the quaintness of historical surroundings with a barbaric insensitivity or narcissism. That's it.