Modern architecture, or modernist architecture, was an architectural movement or architectural style based upon new and innovative technologies of construction, particularly the use of glass, steel, and reinforced concrete; the idea that form should follow function (functionalism); an embrace of minimalism; and a rejection of ornament. It emerged in the first half of the 20th century and became dominant after World War II until the 1980s, when it was gradually replaced as the principal style for institutional and corporate buildings by postmodern architecture.
After the first World War, a prolonged struggle began between architects who favored the more traditional styles of neo-classicism and the Beaux-Arts architecture style, and the modernists, led by Le Corbusier and Robert Mallet-Stevens in France, Walter Gropius and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe in Germany, and Konstantin Melnikov in the new Soviet Union, who wanted only pure forms and the elimination of any decoration. Louis Sullivan popularized the axiom Form follows function to emphasize the importance of utilitarian simplicity in modern architecture. Art Deco architects such as Auguste Perret and Henri Sauvage often made a compromise between the two, combining modernist forms and stylized decoration.
The dominant figure in the rise of modernism in France was Charles-Édouard Jeanerette, a Swiss-French architect who in 1920 took the name Le Corbusier. In 1920 he co-founded a journal called 'L'Espirit Nouveau and energetically promoted architecture that was functional, pure, and free of any decoration or historical associations. He was also a passionate advocate of a new urbanism, based on planned cities. In 1922 he presented a design of a city for three million people, whose inhabitants lived in identical sixty-story tall skyscrapers surrounded by open parkland. He designed modular houses, which would be mass-produced on the same plan and assembled into apartment blocks, neighborhoods, and cities. In 1923 he published "Toward an Architecture", with his famous slogan, "a house is a machine for living in." He tirelessly promoted his ideas through slogans, articles, books, conferences, and participation in Expositions.
Gropius became an important theorist of modernism, writing The Idea and Construction in 1923. He was an advocate of standardization in architecture, and the mass construction of rationally designed apartment blocks for factory workers. In 1928 he was commissioned by the Siemens company to build apartment for workers in the suburbs of Berlin, and in 1929 he proposed the construction of clusters of slender eight- to ten-story high-rise apartment towers for workers.
While Gropius was active at the Bauhaus, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe led the modernist architectural movement in Berlin. Inspired by the De Stijl movement in the Netherlands, he built clusters of concrete summer houses and proposed a project for a glass office tower. He became the vice president of the German Werkbund, and became the head of the Bauhaus from 1930 to 1933. proposing a wide variety of modernist plans for urban reconstruction. His most famous modernist work was the German pavilion for the 1929 international exposition in Barcelona. It was a work of pure modernism, with glass and concrete walls and clean, horizontal lines. Though it was only a temporary structure, and was torn down in 1930, it became, along with Le Corbusier's Villa Savoye, one of the best-known landmarks of modernist architecture. A reconstructed version now stands on the original site in Barcelona.
The beginning of the Great Depression in 1929 brought an end to lavishly decorated Art Deco architecture and a temporary halt to the construction of new skyscrapers. It also brought in a new style, called "Streamline Moderne" or sometimes just Streamline. This style, sometimes modeled after for the form of ocean liners, featured rounded corners, strong horizontal lines, and often nautical features, such as superstructures and steel railings. It was associated with modernity and especially with transportation; the style was often used for new airport terminals, train and bus stations, and for gas stations and diners built along the growing American highway system. In the 1930s the style was used not only in buildings, but in railroad locomotives, and even refrigerators and vacuum cleaners. It both borrowed from industrial design and influenced it.
The Austrian architect Rudolph Schindler designed what could be called the first house in the modern style in 1922, the Schindler house. Schindler also contributed to American modernism with his design for the Lovell Beach House in Newport Beach. The Austrian architect Richard Neutra moved to the United States in 1923, worked for a short time with Frank Lloyd Wright, also quickly became a force in American architecture through his modernist design for the same client, the Lovell Health House in Los Angeles. Neutra's most notable architectural work was the Kaufmann Desert House in 1946, and he designed hundreds of further projects.
The rise of nationalism in the 1930s was reflected in the Fascist architecture of Italy, and Nazi architecture of Germany, based on classical styles and designed to express power and grandeur. The Nazi architecture, much of it designed by Albert Speer, was intended to awe the spectators by its huge scale. Adolf Hitler intended to turn Berlin into the capital of Europe, grander than Rome or Paris. The Nazis closed the Bauhaus, and the most prominent modern architects soon departed for Britain or the United States. In Italy, Benito Mussolini wished to present himself as the heir to the glory and empire of ancient Rome. Mussolini's government was not as hostile to modernism as The Nazis; the spirit of Italian Rationalism of the 1920s continued, with the work of architect Giuseppe Terragni. His Casa del Fascio in Como, headquarters of the local Fascist party, was a perfectly modernist building, with geometric proportions (33.2 meters long by 16.6 meters high), a clean façade of marble, and a Renaissance-inspired interior courtyard. Opposed to Terragni was Marcello Piacitini, a proponent of monumental fascist architecture, who rebuilt the University of Rome, and designed the Italian pavilion at the 1937 Paris Exposition, and planned a grand reconstruction of Rome on the fascist model.
The 1939 New York World's Fair marked a turning point in architecture between Art Deco and modern architecture. The theme of the Fair was the World of Tomorrow, and its symbols were the purely geometric trylon and periphery sculpture. It had many monuments to Art Deco, such as the Ford Pavilion in the Streamline Moderne style, but also included the new International Style that would replace Art Deco as the dominant style after the War. The Pavilions of Finland, by Alvar Aalto, of Sweden by Sven Markelius, and of Brazil by Oscar Niemeyer and Lucio Costa, looked forward to a new style. They became leaders in the postwar modernist movement.
The unprecedented destruction caused by the war was another factor in the rise of modern architecture. Large parts of major cities, from Berlin, Tokyo, and Dresden to Rotterdam and east London; all the port cities of France, particularly Le Havre, Brest, Marseille, Cherbourg had been destroyed by bombing. In the United States, little civilian construction had been done since the 1920s; housing was needed for millions of American soldiers returning from the war. The postwar housing shortages in Europe and the United States led to the design and construction of enormous government-financed housing projects, usually in run-down center of American cities, and in the suburbs of Paris and other European cities, where land was available,
The International Style of architecture had appeared in Europe, particularly in the Bauhaus movement, in the late 1920s. In 1932 it was recognized and given a name at an Exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City organized by architect Philip Johnson and architectural critic Henry-Russell Hitchcock, Between 1937 and 1941, following the rise Hitler and the Nazis in Germany, most of the leaders of the German Bauhaus movement found a new home in the United States, and played an important part in the development of American modern architecture.
In 1955, employed by the architectural firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), he began working in Chicago. He was made a partner in 1966. He worked the rest of his life side by side with Architect Bruce Graham. Khan introduced design methods and concepts for efficient use of material in building architecture. His first building to employ the tube structure was the Chestnut De-Witt apartment building. During the 1960s and 1970s, he became noted for his designs for Chicago's 100-story John Hancock Center, which was the first building to use the trussed-tube design, and 110-story Sears Tower, since renamed Willis Tower, the tallest building in the world from 1973 until 1998, which was the first building to use the framed-tube design.
In Finland, the most influential architect was Alvar Aalto, who adapted his version of modernism to the Nordic landscape, light, and materials, particularly the use of wood. After World War II, he taught architecture in the United States. In Denmark, Arne Jacobsen was the best-known of the modernists, who designed furniture as well as carefully proportioned buildings.
In India, modernist architecture was promoted by the postcolonial state under Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, most notably by inviting Le Corbusier to design the city of Chandigarh. Important Indian modernist architects include BV Doshi, Charles Correa, Raj Rewal, Achyut Kanvinde, and Habib Rahman. Much discussion around modernist architecture took place in the journal MARG. In Sri Lanka, Geoffrey Bawa pioneered tropical modernism. Minnette De Silva was an important Sri Lankan modernist architect. 2b1af7f3a8