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Postmodern architecture and design

Parent categories: postmodernism - architecture

Postmodernism in architecture is generally thought to be heralded by the return of "wit, ornament and reference" to architecture in response to the formalism of the International Style of modernism. [Jan 2006]

Related: ornament - Memphis design movement - Charles Jencks - Frank Gehry - Rem Koolhaas - vernacular architecture

Secondary literature: Marilyn Zurmuehlen

Compare: modern architecture

Key buildings: Dancing Building, Prague, Frank Gehry - Guggenheim museum, Bilbao, Frank Gehry - Piazza d'Italia by C Moore, New Orleans 1979

Postmodernism in architecture and design

  • Memphis 1981, Memphis, The New International Style provided a stylistic antidote to austere modernism in the first exhibition of the Memphis group in 1981. For them, decoration and styling was a game. --source unknown.

    As with many cultural movements, one of postmodernism's most pronounced and visible ideas can be seen in architecture. The functional, and formalized, shapes and spaces of the modernist movement are replaced by unapologetically diverse aesthetics; styles collide, form is adopted for its own sake, and new ways of viewing familiar styles and space abound.

    Classic examples of modern architecture are the Empire State building or the Chrysler building in commercial space, and the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright or the Bauhaus movement in private or communal spaces. A transitional example of postmodern architecture is the ATT building in New York, which, like modernist architecture, is a skyscraper relying on steel beams and with lots of windows, but, unlike modern architecture, it borrows elements from classical Greek style as well. A prime example of postmodern art through an architectural medium lies along the Las Vegas Strip. The buildings along this strip of road reflect innumerable art periods as well as cultural references all in a very playful collage.

    Postmodern architecture has also been described as "neo-eclectic", where reference and ornament have returned to the facade, replacing the aggressively unornamented modern styles as, for example, in this building from Boston Massachusetts (http://jan.ucc.nau.edu/~twp/architecture/postmoderncom/bldg4.JPG). This electicism is often combined with the use of non-orthagonal angles and unusual surfaces, most famously in the Stuttgart State Gallery and the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao.

    Modernist architects regard post-modern buildings as vulgar and loaded with "gee-gaws". Post-modern architects often regard modern spaces as soulless and bland. The basic aesthetic differences reach down to the level of the tectonicity of architecture, with Modernism rooted in the desire to reduce the amount of material and cost of a structure, and standardize its construction. Post-modernism has no such imperative, and seeks exuberance in the use of building techniques, angles, references.

    Postmodern architects include: Philip Johnson (later works), John Burgee, Robert Venturi, Ricardo Boffil, James Stirling and Frank Gehry. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Postmodernism#Postmodernism_in_architecture [Dec 2004]

    The New Paradigm in Architecture: The Language of Postmodernism (1977) - Charles Jencks

    The New Paradigm in Architecture: The Language of Postmodernism (1977) - Charles Jencks [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

    Jencks is the principal author on postmodernism in architecture, chiefly through his The Language of Postmodernism, which has gone through six editions and many translations since its first publication in 1977. This book has been standard issue in most schools of architecture for over 20 years; Jencks himself taught architecture at UCLA for many years. The book at hand is a complete rewrite of the original editions, with two new chapters. It updates Jencks's survey of world architecture to include the last ten years of stylistic evolution, climaxing with such galactic masterpieces as Frank Gehry's Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, and Daniel Liebeskind's Jewish Museum in Berlin, Germany. Jencks, a transplanted Englishman, is a breezy writer. He glosses over differences in design, preferring to inscribe all schools and styles since the 1960s within the orbits of "multiple coding," "complexity," "heterogeneity," and "pluralism." He is such a readable writer that almost any library collection would benefit from this book. Peter McKee Kaufman, Boston Architectural Ctr. Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

    Learning from Las Vegas (1972/1977) - Robert Venturi, Steven Izenour, Denise Scott Brown

    Learning from Las Vegas (1972/1977) - Robert Venturi, Steven Izenour, Denise Scott Brown [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

    Book Description
    Learning from Las Vegas created a healthy controversy on its appearance in 1972, calling for architects to be more receptive to the tastes and values of "common" people and less immodest in their erections of "heroic," self-aggrandizing monuments.

    This revision includes the full texts of Part I of the original, on the Las Vegas strip, and Part II, "Ugly and Ordinary Architecture, or the Decorated Shed," a generalization from the findings of the first part on symbolism in architecture and the iconography of urban sprawl. (The final part of the first edition, on the architectural work of the firm Venturi and Rauch, is not included in the revision.) The new paperback edition has a smaller format, fewer pictures, and a considerably lower price than the original. There are an added preface by Scott Brown and a bibliography of writings by the members of Venturi and Rauch and about the firm's work. --from the publisher

    Robert Charles Venturi (June 25, 1925 -) is a Philadelphia-based architect who worked under Eero Saarinen and Louis Kahn before forming his own firm with John Rauch. As a faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania, Venturi met his future wife, the architect and planner Denise Scott Brown, who joined the firm in 1967. After Rauch's resignation in 1989, the firm took its current form and was named Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates, Inc.. Robert Venturi won the Pritzker Prize in 1991.

    Venturi was a controversial critic of the purely functional and spare designs of modern orthodox architecture and was considered a counterrevolutionary. He published his manifesto, Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture, in 1966.

    He graduated summa cum laude from Princeton University in 1947 and received his M.F.A. there in 1950. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Venturi [Jan 2006]

    Learning from Las Vegas (with D. Scott Brown and S. Izenour), Cambridge MA, 1972, revised 1977.

    See also: architecture - postmodern architecture - 1972 - vernacular architecture

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