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Essay on What is Modern Architecture?

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Trying to define modern architecture was a problem that many architects struggled to explain. No one before had created what we now know as “modern” architecture. In the past architects were able to look into history to gain an inspiration for buildings however, this approach would not fit in this new age of the machine. Industrialization changed the way people thought. The Industrial Revolution allowed products to be produced on an industrial scale, allowing ordinary people access to goods that would have been otherwise not have been in their reach. Architecture was slow to adapt to industrialization and the industrial age brought new problems never seen before. One such of architecture’s main goals is to faithfully represent its time; this idea is known as Zeitgeist or “Spirit of the Age.” Since an age of the machine was a never before seen phenomenon, architects had to think slightly ahead of their time in order to keep up with the changes going on in society. Many architects such as Le Corbusier, Frank Lloyd Wright, Walter Gropius and Ludwig Mies worked tirelessly to establish themselves as leaders in their field. They came up with ideas such as harmony between architecture and nature, and function over form. Ludwig Miles was one such architect who tried to cement his place in history through the creative use of concrete, steel and glass. Mies’s style was known to follow the saying “less is more.” One of his greatest known buildings is the Seagram Building. Built in New York City in 1958, it was one of the most expensive buildings built at that time. The Seagram building was built in 1958, during a time “when Park Avenue was transforming from an exclusive residential neighborhood to a prestigious business address, the Seagra...


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...hborhood Preservation Center. Accessed December 10, 2012. http://www.neighborhoodpreservationcenter.org/db/bb_files/Seagram-Building--Including-The-Plaza.pdf.

Scott, Felicity D. "An Army of Soldiers or a Meadow The Seagram Building and the 'Art of Modern Architecture'." Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 70 (September 2011).

"Seagram Building." New York Entertainment. Accessed December 10, 2012. http://nymag.com/listings/attraction/seagram_building/.

"Seagram Building, New York." Galinsky. http://www.galinsky.com/buildings/seagram/.

Wegener, Jim. "Nocturnal Modernity." Architizer. Last modified August 12, 2010. Accessed December 10, 2012. http://www.architizer.com/en_us/blog/dyn/6365/nocturnal-modernity/#.UMkahoPs5TJ.

Whyte, William H., narr. The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces. N.p.: n.p., 1980. DVD. Originally released 1980.



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