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View Poll Results: Has architectural modernism failed?
Yes 190 45.13%
No 231 54.87%
Voters: 421. You may not vote on this poll

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Old August 10th, 2011, 12:21 PM   #101
vachej
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Really the origins of the International Style, of Modernism, are to be found in the
efforts of steel company salesman. Recognizing that the volume of steel they could sell
to the railroads was leveling off, steel company salesman conceived the idea
of marketing their steel as columns and beams to the businessmen of Chicago,
businessmen ever keen on construction cost savings. The idea to use steel
for building was entirely a deal worked out between steel company salesmen and savvy businessmen,
was an architectural invention emerging completely outside the domain of architecture.
Architecture objected, but in that era was in little position
to dictate the terms of building to its employers. Now as often happens, subsequent
generations of architects saw a way of wresting power away from the architectural
establishment, for that reason began to embrace the steel tower. It was
by way of arrogating power, rather than any sort of aesthetic possibility afforded by steel,
that architecture was absorbed into modernism. Now steel is a perfectly sound material,
remarkable things can be done with it, and like every new technology it opens
up a whole universe of new possibilities. But the business class behind the International
Style were businessmen not artists. Its understandable that while the cost
savings accrued from building with steel were a boon to consumers, to try to
push onto the International Style an aesthetic will never be more than an
emperors new clothes kind of thing. The great irony is to hear architects
sing the praises of the International Style, evidently unaware of its decidedly
philistine origins. But this is not at all to renounce steel buildings. The problem
is for artists to figure out how to sublimate them, to integrate them into the
sort of urban fabric that the public find delight in. That is really what we should
be debating. How to integrate the great technological wonders that steel
does confer, into an urbanism that is a pleasure to inhabit. Here very
schematically are some suggestions following along on this theme of
integration of old and new.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/treehou...7626331581916/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/treehou...n/photostream/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/treehou...n/photostream/

In this scheme, the city is conceived of as a grid of 'turbine' squares. Each
square is either empty, or filled with some modernistic structure. The idea
is that as you walk around the city, you remain insulated from the raw,
hulking masses of modernism, yet all the advantages of such buildings are
just a short distance away.
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Old August 10th, 2011, 02:21 PM   #102
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I think this is being generalised too much. At least I think that modernism, when used correctly, is just as good as classism.
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Old August 10th, 2011, 02:34 PM   #103
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... are we falling? ... again?! ...

The classic one looks better. The modern design looks like the buildings are about to fall

Quote:
Originally Posted by guy4versa4 View Post
how bout somthing modern like this?

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Old August 10th, 2011, 04:12 PM   #104
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Taller, Better

Jane Jacobs, luckily for us, moved to Toronto in 1968 as a protest against the war in Vietnam, and lived here as an urban planning activist until her death in 2006. Sadly our gain was New York's loss..... she was a great thinker and still widely revered today as being very close to a different kind of sainthood here in Toronto. She successfully fought against a truly disastrous proposal for a "Spadina Expressway" that would have meant bulldozing much loved neighbourhoods to make room for a new highway. She was also instrumental in her influencing the redevelopment and regeneration of our now highly successful St Lawrence Market district. Her ideas for building good communities were invaluable, and that is how I like to remember her. Like all thinkers, her mind covered many subjects, and although I don't agree with every single word or concept that she espoused, indubitably she was a HUGE positive influence on our urban development. I have to say that there are some concepts that made sense back in 1970 than would be much less appropriate or workable in 2012.... I know that some people would have been happy if they could have trapped Toronto in a sort of time-warp to keep it a sleepy little provincial backwater, but that simply was not in the cards for us. Times change, and good concepts can usually be altered slightly and adapted to modern needs without always being taken completely literal or "gospel". I consider our luck at gaining Jane to be along the same lines as Chicago's luck in gaining the Bauhaus school during World War Two, as the members (van der Rhoe, Walter Gropius, le Corbusier, etc.... ) fled from Germany.
they were gunna make a spadina expressway??? :/ , that would od ruined all of toronto , God bless her
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Old August 10th, 2011, 10:50 PM   #105
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Quote:
Originally Posted by modernisti View Post
I think this is being generalised too much. At least I think that modernism, when used correctly, is just as good as classism.
Definitely true.

However, does the average modern building look as good as the average older one? I'd find it a stretch to say yes.


For whatever reason, the cheaply built buildings of the past (excluding wooden shacks) just have more charm than their modern cheap counterparts. And a lot of the building of the past were cheaply built. Much of the West End of London was built in the 1700s, and mainly intended for cheap lodgings. The building style was often just plucked from a catalogue, yet few are ugly in the way that modern buildings can be.
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Old August 10th, 2011, 11:25 PM   #106
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I think it's important to distinguish the functions of a building and determine the style that is most appropriate. I find modern buildings great for downtown areas (thinking here in the North American sense of downtown). Modern Architecture is a great way to push the limits of physics and imagination. Almost anyone exposed to great modern works, like the Guggenheim in Balbao, the Eiffel Tower, or the Jim Mao tower in Shanghai, would enjoy them and feel awed. 'Classical' architecture is much more interesting for residential use. I find modern architecture cold and 'souless' for residential uses.

For example, here in Montréal, Canada (a city almost 400 years old), some of the most hip residential neighborhoods, like Le Plateau, consist mostly of early 20th century victorian Architecture. Le Plateau is filled with great restaurants, cafés, and shops. The atmosphere is insurpassed by any modern neighborhoods and will always maintain its intrinsic quality.



Other than N.A. downtown areas, where in our major cities have we created great neighborhoods? Suburbia, which is a great example of modernism, has never created an atmosphere, hasn't created anything really. Just a cold place where men and women come home at 6:00 PM, enter their identical homes, with boring plastic façades, cheap gardens and street-level life. Is this what we want to continue? Urban Sprawl, highways into city, and Wendy's everywhere? I hope not.

I just feel like we need to almost 'separate' these two types of Architecture. Modern; skyscrapers for businesses, museums, and great concert halls while the other genre for residences as it is more human and welcoming.

Last edited by ChrisDVD; August 10th, 2011 at 11:39 PM.
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Old August 11th, 2011, 12:27 AM   #107
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Quote:
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Some people are highly annoyed by the "standardization" of food tastes, music, fashion and architecture throughout the World. They are those who will always vocalize against the "building that could exist anywhere and thus is 'characterless'". They will hate modernism because it opened the floodgates for star architects "unconnected" to the cities or regions they built in etc.


I recognize my self in this description. In fact , we have been discussing this on some other topic.

I'm not against modernism in general, but I believe each city/country with intention of preserving and developing its own identity has to regulate where and in what way those globalized, characterless buildings are built. There has to be an area in the city (per example old city center) which will be reserved for architecture which represents the region city is located in. This architecture could be an identical visual (but not technological) copy of earlier local styles but it would be more than preferable to further develop those local styles making modern interpretations of them according to their location within the city or country.

That way, Serbia could per example, make one modern interpretation of neo-byzantine style leaning towards classicism with traditional shapes and materials and one modern interpretation of the same style leaning towards modernism with more modern elements but still having a recognizable local, neo-byzantine touch. Traditional interpretation should be used in old city center and modern interpretation in suburbs and new parts of the city. Also ,local sub-styles could be created on the regional level ,both with traditional and modern tendencies so in northern Serbia which had more Austro-Hungarian influence would have new interpretations that resemble to according old styles and southern Serbia which had more Turkish/Byzantine influence would build in southern looking styles.

But in each case the special attention should be made to prevent Kazakhstan, Las Vegas or Skopje style kitsch.
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Old August 11th, 2011, 12:44 AM   #108
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BE0GRAD View Post
blablabla
Traditional buildings are very individualistic and you hate the individual, you ought to be all up for modernism instead of attacking it for being "characterless"!
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Old August 11th, 2011, 12:56 AM   #109
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@Beograd You are, essentially, just defending fake buildings for the sake of cheap (cheat) copying of earlier styles:

Quote:
This architecture could be an identical visual (but not technological) copy of earlier local styles but it would be more than preferable to further develop those local styles making modern interpretations of them according to their location within the city or country.
Moreover, you are depriving the citizens and business of a given city to live in places design with "foreign" inspired design/aesthetics. It is like you can't have a French villa-like development in Italy.

Never mind - and here is the flaw of your argument - that many styles, most of them, were not vernacular, homegrown developments that followed available technology developed locally only. For centuries there had been such cross-over influence.

What about Rome? Is the fact that many Roman buildings were inspired and incorporated certain elements of Greek architecture a proof that Roman buildings of 150aD are fake and thus non-representative, because they resemble Greek ones?

What about very ancient influences, like Phoenicians that dotted the Mediterranean with their colonies and, in the process, exported the seeds of the "mediterranean" style all over?

This is just an extreme proposition, like that of forbidding or limiting restaurants that sell "non local" food on the solely basis they "kill" the gastronomic identity of a place.

Totally ridiculous. Unless you agree that we should raze Roman buildings of the early republic that were inspired on Greek ones, there shall be no reason by which one can't copy, today, some style from New York or Shangai in other place.

The idea of making fake, stupid replicas of ancient styles for the mere sake of "not looking like everywhere else" is unacceptable. One city is doomed if it is betting its branding on a fake process of copying old buildings.

As for kitsch: there is no problem with kistch if those buying or renting places there like it. Governments should mess much with aesthetic styles, they should care with functionality, volume, measures... and live details like deco and façades to developers only, with as little influence as possible, only caring that buildings are sanitized on their design, and properly finished, and safe.
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Old August 11th, 2011, 04:46 AM   #110
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It's all been a huge success.

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Old August 11th, 2011, 05:06 AM   #111
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This is more like slum clearances I love entire neighborhood clearances when they are damned beyond repair, regardless of what is built to replace them. Demolition is more fun than restoration.
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Old August 11th, 2011, 05:52 AM   #112
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Quote:
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This is more like slum clearances I love entire neighborhood clearances when they are damned beyond repair, regardless of what is built to replace them. Demolition is more fun than restoration.
Really? I doubt it if there are too many people who would agree with your views.

Please, promise me you'll never run for city council or develop real estate in my city.

Last edited by ajs0503; August 11th, 2011 at 06:05 AM.
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Old August 11th, 2011, 06:38 AM   #113
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This is more like slum clearances I love entire neighborhood clearances when they are damned beyond repair, regardless of what is built to replace them. Demolition is more fun than restoration.
That was an intact neighborhood destroyed to make way for Lincoln Center in 1958.
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Old August 11th, 2011, 09:13 AM   #114
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Buildings have been demolished to make room for new ones since shortly after man came down from the trees. "Modernism" did not invent that concept. Mankind simply has always strived for "Bigger and Better".

I tend to agree with much of what ChrisDVD says.... modernism is by far the best solution for building downtown office towers, and also for big institutions like hospitals. But for residential living I personally prefer the comfort of old houses and old apartment buildings. Many prefer the clean sleekness of new residential houses and condominiums, but for me to live I prefer the older styles. There aren't enough old houses to go around for a rapidly expanding population (Greater Toronto is growing at 100,000 newcomers per year) and indeed not everyone even wants to live in an old building, so we have to be creative and find ways to effectively and economically house everyone.
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Old August 11th, 2011, 10:23 AM   #115
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I cannot help but think the problem of modernism is bound up with the problem
of the street grid. Now the simple grid pattern in cities like New York
trace its origins back to its first use in Roman Military Camps.
The Romans laid out their encampments in such simple grids because
it allowed them to quickly send reinforcements wherever needed. Now we've
been using that simple pattern ever since, much more because of
the incubus of habit than any desirable aesthetic property. We now face
two challenges that seem to overwhelm the basic grid. The first is
the incorporation of the very large buildings made possible by the modern
materials of steel and concrete. The second is the incorporation of the
automobile. On the one hand is the problem of overwhelming mass, on the
other is the problem of overwhelming speed. Now one solution proposes simply
to condemn, to renounce modern buildings and modern transportation.
They talk about going 'car-free' and going back to three story walk-ups.
But this will never do for the architect or the urban designer. He must
plot and plan, he must analyze, he must take apart the fundamental
unit of the present city, the simple x-y grid, and determine how it
must be reconstituted in order to properly integrate the automobile and
the skyscraper into the warp and woof of the city.
Therein lies the problem and its solution. What
is needed is simply a more well developed grid. Now just as
Frank Lloyd Wright successfully solved the problem of the house
with the Tartan grid, the underlying organizational principal
of the Prairie House, so I believe a Tartan grid will solve the
problem of the amalgamation of the city, the car, and the tower.
I will try to post some examples illustrating this shortly.

Last edited by vachej; August 11th, 2011 at 10:54 AM.
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Old August 11th, 2011, 02:24 PM   #116
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Suburbanist View Post
This is more like slum clearances I love entire neighborhood clearances when they are damned beyond repair, regardless of what is built to replace them. Demolition is more fun than restoration.
More fun? Thats helluva one of an argument! In London former slums are now very fashionable and trendy places to live in.
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Old August 11th, 2011, 02:37 PM   #117
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I don't argue that parts of cities have been knocked down to build bigger and better, but as seen with that lonely house sitting near the adjascent estates, Modernism took the concept to the extreme, completely unnecessarily, and in most cases unsuccesfully. It may have provided more personal living space and better kitchen/bathroom facilities for its inhabitants but it also bred new problems of crime and destruction of business.

I maintain my previous stance... for demolition - and especially mass clearances - to be justified it has to be replaced by something better. This isn't about Modernist 'style' (which actually looks pretty swish when done right, often in large downtown office buildings as previously mentioned) but about simple issues like planning and building quality.

Subby, you may 'love' clearances (who doesn't love blowing stuff up right?) but do you consider at all the homes, families, lives and businesses that were uprooted or destroyed altogether in the process?
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Old August 11th, 2011, 03:29 PM   #118
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(...)It may have provided more personal living space and better kitchen/bathroom facilities for its inhabitants but it also bred new problems of crime and destruction of business.(...)

Subby, you may 'love' clearances (who doesn't love blowing stuff up right?) but do you consider at all the homes, families, lives and businesses that were uprooted or destroyed altogether in the process?
These problems are not a direct result of the architectural style chosen to replace old buildings. Some designs might have its problems, but on the larger picture such problems are more demographic than else.

I'll not de-rail the topic because we have another thread to discuss slum clearances (might be buried on 3rd/4th page of the Urban Issues subforum), but for the sake of clarity, it is my belief that certain communities are so rot in social disorder, moral decay and ghetto mentality ("my world ends in the ghetto and thou shall not move outa da ghetto") that they need to be destroyed.

Because we in this forum have more focus on architecture, we tend to overemphasize the role of architecture design, alone, on certain social issues. Surely, an extremely overcrowded place like certain immigrant neighborhoods of Manhattan in early 20th Century are outright unsafe, unhealthy (on the biological sense) and a hotbed for gangs/loitering/unrest. However, in most cases, shoddy buildings are just the most visible reflection of deeper problems within a community.

Take some New York former 1960-70s warzones like Harlem or Brooklyn: despite a mostly prosperous time for US economy, problems there got worse and worse for drug dealing, an extreme localist mentality ("I don't want to move 20 blocks away!"), fatalist attitude and a flight of the most respectable members of community. Shoddy, crumbling buildings and piles of trash were just one of the effects (despite acting in a reinforcing loop) of those realities.

In that context, the modernist proposal is awesome for allowing sudden clearance of whole swaths of blocks and, in the processing, breaking a community that had been irremediably poisoned beyond hope. Dispersed to other places in the city, the good members (victims) will pull their lives in order and move one. The "bad apples", deprived of their crime-friendly neighborhood, will find their way into the justice system and prisons earlier rather than later, naturally.

But that has ANYTHING to do with what is built to replace old buildings. Even in the case of Harlem, many times they could replace population without destroying buildings via gentrification.
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Old August 11th, 2011, 04:51 PM   #119
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Quote:
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...that the point I was making is that CITIES ARE NOT STATIC.
There is no doubt about it. However, there is a big divide that separates modernism from all previous pre-modern styles. Despite all the different stylistic and aesthetical choices, pre-modern architecture - be it ancient Greek, Roman, Persian, Gothic, neoclassical, even art nouveau - relies on some sort of structured complexity. Modern buildings are completely devoid of this.

Now, as this structured complexity is something that is found everywhere in nature (see the fractal structure of a tree and its branches, for instance) I, as a neurobiologist, am convinced that our brains are hard-wired to look for such patterns in our environment. The presence of such patterns is "neurologically nourishing" while their absence is stressful.

Professor Nikos Salingaros of the University of Texas / San Antonio is one of the main proponents of this view, and he has given me the honour of asking me to write the introduction in one of his books. I think it is highly relevant to this discussion:

http://books.google.gr/books?id=i2Kr...ngaros&f=false
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Old August 11th, 2011, 05:00 PM   #120
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I just feel like we need to almost 'separate' these two types of Architecture. Modern; skyscrapers for businesses, museums, and great concert halls while the other genre for residences as it is more human and welcoming.
I agree!
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