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Nick Tubach Professor Volpe Critical Writing 30 November 2012 Postmodernism & Architecture Postmodernism is the reaction to or rejection of the dogma, principles, or practices of established modernism. Postmodernism is especially a movement in architecture and the decorative arts running counter to the practice and influence of the International Style and encouraging the use of elements from historical vernacular styles and often playful illusion, decoration, and complexity. Postmodern architecture has opened up a whole new venue for contemporary architects. It has utilized previous principles of Modern architecture but with the intention of creating something unique in a world filled with simulacra. Architecture is a structural representation of an artistic statement about our society, about how man interacts within spaces. Postmodern architecture has completely reinterpreted the ideas of form and function from previous conventions of Modern architecture. Modern architecture placed function before form. It was minimalist, and based upon five basic principles coined by French architect, Le Corbusier. His first principle was to elevate the first floor using pilotis, or columns. The second principle was then developed: to push the structure to the exterior. This translated into the third principle which was to have an open floor plan, in other words, to have large open spaces rather than many small enclosed spaces. The fourth principle was to use modern materials.

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Rather than using traditional materials like wood and brick; iron, steel, and glass were primarily used. The fifth principle is a continuation of the fourth: utilizing numerous window systems, specifically designing the openings to be horizontal ribbon windows rather than commonplace vertical rectangles punched out of a solid wall. His five principles were widely accepted and utilized by many notable architects. These principles became the basis of Modern architecture and became known as the International Style since it was used around the world. The direction of architectural growth was translated and re-envisioned by Le Corbusier. His principles developed the characteristics of architecture that reflected an interpretation of society. Modern architecture is minimalist, placing function over form. Modern architecture is very plain compared to contemporary standards; it is slender and stagnant. Perfect examples of the embodiment of the International Style are Le Corbusiers Villa Savoye, Mies van der Rohes Seagram Building and Farnsworth House. Each is minimal, utilizing only glass, iron or steel, and concrete. They are rectilinear, comprised of only vertical and horizontal planes, and vertical linear elements (columns). The boxy, prefabricated form of Modern architecture was disregarded as the International Style became outdated and the growth of Postmodern architecture rose. Postmodern architecture places form over function. Postmodern architecture reinterprets the International Style with the intention of developing a building that is completely unique. It is a reinterpretation of traditional values, developing a new individualistic style that says that form can dictate function rather than having function dictate form. Postmodern and contemporary architects alike view architecture as its own

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form of art; physical, experiential art. Although Postmodern architecture believes in the use of modern materials, the application of those materials to create form is far more dynamic and full of life. Architecture can be representational and has been in many instances, but Postmodern architecture takes it to a whole new level. Much of design is simply pushing the boundaries of the materials themselves and the forms they can create. A sub-style that has been defined within the realm of Postmodern architecture is called Deconstructionism. It is essentially the fragmentation of form to respond to both positive and negative space to establish a form that is then almost organic or fluid-like. Frank Gehry, a highly regarded postmodern architect, is noted for his style of Deconstructionism. We see the flowing nature of the multifaceted faade in Gehrys Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, and The Guggenheim in Bilbao, Spain. The concert hall has been described as a soaring composition of shimmering sails that seem to billow in the wind, rising and parting to draw you into the foyer (Gehry 37). There is a real dynamism to Postmodern architecture and in this case it seems as though it is actually the form that determines the function: the sails rise and part to draw you toward the entrance. Gehrys style does not cease at one sub-style of postmodernism; his dynamic, energetic interpretation of architecture has allowed him to create such unique buildings like The Dancing House in Prague. This NationaleNederlanden Insurance building is also nicknamed Fred and Ginger because of the way the two vertical masses seem to interact and dance with each other. Gehrys draperyarchitecture [is a] metaphor for form and movement in a rigid medium (Gehry 47). He has designed a building that is rigid yet evokes emotion and the sense of movement

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simply through exterior form. Part of Postmodern architecture is making a statement through form. Another notable postmodern architect is a Dutchman, Rem Koolhaas. His design of the Chinese Central Television (CCTV) Headquarters in Beijing, has an extremely unique form that pushes the boundaries of structure. The form of the building can be interpreted as the concept of bridging the gap; cooperation. The form not only makes a social statement but an artistic statement as well. The bent, jointed form of the building plays with the concept of the faade being continuous yet distorted or contorted. The function of this building falls secondary to its form. There are numerous other successful postmodern architects that embody the reinterpretation of traditional values that is Postmodern architecture. Postmodernism is an expressive medium, art at its roots. Architecture can be viewed as a type of art, it includes elements like intertextuality and pastiche, and more specifically with Postmodern architecture: meta-narrative. Postmodern buildings are almost aware of the fact that they are a building and seem to use that as a method of thinking outside the box. A contemporary architect knowing he is designing a building puts him in a position to let his creativity run wild; he can use any materials at his disposal to create any form he can imagine. Today, Postmodern architecture has become so advanced and so unique that the realm of architecture has become limitless.

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Works Cited Gehry, Frank O. Frank Gehry: 1996 / 2003 : From A to Z. Madrid: El Croquis, 2003. Print.This resource is one volume of many that our university's architecture library provides on Frank Gehry. It is an extremely valuable source because it is from Frank Gehry himself; it is his firm's presentation of his work from 1996 to 2003. It provides critical analysis of his works, their form, their material, their location, among many other things about Gehry and his architecture. "OMA/Rem Koolhaas: CCTV Building, Beijing." Floornature. N.p., n.d. Web. <>. This source is very informative. It sheds light on the importance of this particular building to the architectural firm that designed it, architecture as a medium, and to the people within the community it is located. The article more specifically describes the impact of this radical design and the critical response it received. This resource is credible because it is an informed, non-malicious website that simply aims to inform and inspire others about the world of architecture. "Postmodernism.", n.d. Web. <>. This is an online version of your standard dictionary. This source is credible because it does not give biased or falsified word definitions. Safran, Yehuda, Paulo Martins Barata, Luiz Trigueiros, Rui Morais De. Sousa, and Thorsten Hmpel. Mies Van Der Rohe. Lisboa: Editorial Blau, 2000. Print. This is a very valuable resource. It is a documentation of German architect, Mies van der Rohe's most notable works. They are photographed and analyzed beautifully in this compilation of image and text. The works are presented in a informative and unbiased manner. "Villa Savoye - Le Corbusier." GreatBuildings. N.p., n.d. Web. <>.

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This resource displays all the data of Le Corbusier's building. It is well documented with photos, plans, sections, and elevations. This is a credible source because the information is unbiased and accurately represented. Walker, John A. "Post-Modern Architecture." Art Design Caf. N.p., n.d. Web. <>. This resource builds some background to Postmodern architecture. It defines the history of the style as a reaction to Modernism. This source is credible because it is an excerpt from a legitimate book from a legitimate author for a legitimate organization. The author is well-informed and knowledgeable of the subject and provides useful, unbiased information about Postmodern architecture.