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  #1  
Old Posted Aug 3, 2011, 3:32 AM
skyhigh07 skyhigh07 is offline
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Has modernism failed?

Then...







Now...



I'll leave it at that...
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  #2  
Old Posted Aug 3, 2011, 3:34 AM
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Failed? How has it failed? Its destroyed a lot and made architecture boring and monotonous, but failed? I dont think so.
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  #3  
Old Posted Aug 3, 2011, 4:28 AM
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No it has succeeded, think about it this way. The philosophy behind modernism is the concept that something can be beautiful without being grandeur or overdone but rather by being simple. In nature as beings evolve they become less complex and eventually revert to a state of simplicity. Architecture has come to a point where engineering now rules it,pushing the limits not on a level of beauty but rather on a level of science.Human beings have used science to make a complex art simple while still being interesting when looked at in depth.Which in reality is the destiny of all things. Through modernism we have more sustainable designs, more flexibility in designs, better urban centers that better serve the economy and create a new broad aesthetic spectrum that can revolutionize any city. Modernism may have given us the bland brick and concrete apartment complexes that flood many cities but lest we forget all its triumphs.
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  #4  
Old Posted Aug 3, 2011, 5:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SkyscrapersOfNewYork View Post
No it has succeeded, think about it this way. The philosophy behind modernism is the concept that something can be beautiful without being grandeur or overdone but rather by being simple. In nature as beings evolve they become less complex and eventually revert to a state of simplicity. Architecture has come to a point where engineering now rules it,pushing the limits not on a level of beauty but rather on a level of science.Human beings have used science to make a complex art simple while still being interesting when looked at in depth.Which in reality is the destiny of all things. Through modernism we have more sustainable designs, more flexibility in designs, better urban centers that better serve the economy and create a new broad aesthetic spectrum that can revolutionize any city. Modernism may have given us the bland brick and concrete apartment complexes that flood many cities but lest we forget all its triumphs.
Then why are cities like Paris, Vienna, Venice Florence, Prague etc considered to be the pinnacle of architectural and aesthetic beauty? Why must we reject thousands of years of classicism only to push the limits of a static experiment? A static experiment, which has established "simplicity" through stoicism and functionalism.

I guess its a matter of preference I suppose...

You can have Hong Kong; I'll take Paris.
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  #5  
Old Posted Aug 3, 2011, 5:55 AM
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Aesthetically the older architecture is more exciting mostly because we don't build it anymore. Modernism hasn't failed by definition because we essentially build zero classic architecture anymore, still to this day.

But let's take a few things into consideration:

1) All grand old projects back in the day revolved around ornate, classical styles. If everything is designed around that standard, the generation that considered minimalist modernist designs was looking for something new. To them it was a breath of fresh air.

2) While decadent on the facade, was the old Penn Station as functional as the new one? I have a feeling - despite our architectural differences - the new Penn Station has served it's purpose well. The old structure was certainly showing it's age in the 1960's, probably more so than the current structure. Photos I saw from before the demolition show a rickety roofing, an aged and dingy set of glass panels... It just looks like the cost to fix it would be prohibitive, plus the fact that the new Penn Station has efficient use of everything else above.




There are reasons people wanted to move forward and create a modern look. This looks old and tired. The exposed steel wasn't particularly exciting, it was just a functional classical style.



There's nothing wrong per se, but it is certainly wasted space compared with the new Penn Station.

The new Penn Station has more stuff, the older Penn Station was aged and wasted space. Sure, it may have looked better in a subjective sense, but not everyone agrees. I have had a huge 180 in my view of modernism, I bought into the "only classical is worth saving" mentality 10 years ago. Today I love modernism and understand why it became the standard. People were tired of stuffy, stodgy, old world architecture. The new, minimalist, fresh approach was necessary and good.
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  #6  
Old Posted Aug 3, 2011, 6:21 AM
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Originally Posted by SkyscrapersOfNewYork View Post
No it has succeeded, think about it this way. The philosophy behind modernism is the concept that something can be beautiful without being grandeur or overdone but rather by being simple. In nature as beings evolve they become less complex and eventually revert to a state of simplicity. Architecture has come to a point where engineering now rules it,pushing the limits not on a level of beauty but rather on a level of science.Human beings have used science to make a complex art simple while still being interesting when looked at in depth.Which in reality is the destiny of all things. Through modernism we have more sustainable designs, more flexibility in designs, better urban centers that better serve the economy and create a new broad aesthetic spectrum that can revolutionize any city. Modernism may have given us the bland brick and concrete apartment complexes that flood many cities but lest we forget all its triumphs.
Yet appreciation for craftsmanship and detail will endure. I'm not going to say one period of architecture is better than the other. Both have their merits and downfalls. However Penn Station was replaced by a mundane edifice. For most people, MSG is a forgettable building.
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  #7  
Old Posted Aug 3, 2011, 6:41 AM
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It certainly hasn't caught on with the general public. The AIA did a survey a couple years ago...pretty much all the favorable views were about buildings older than WWII. The lame explanations in the AR letters were a mix of denial, anger, and the typical "but the public shops at wal mart."

I like a lot of newer buildings, and really love some eras. Absent a Paris-type vernacular, I like a mix of styles. Quite a bit of great stuff is happening now. Yet I'd take classical styles in a heartbeat.
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  #8  
Old Posted Aug 3, 2011, 6:57 AM
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Originally Posted by skyhigh07 View Post
Then why are cities like Paris, Vienna, Venice Florence, Prague etc considered to be the pinnacle of architectural and aesthetic beauty? Why must we reject thousands of years of classicism only to push the limits of a static experiment? A static experiment, which has established "simplicity" through stoicism and functionalism.

I guess its a matter of preference I suppose...

You can have Hong Kong; I'll take Paris.
You're right, pushing envelopes is stupid, let's all go live in a farcical past world that we believe was just tea and sandwiches in the park, let's divide all of architectural history into modernism and classicism, then blame modernism for all of its failures and praise classicism for all of its triumphs. We should keep cities in museums where they can no longer expand or change to reflect or accommodate diverse and dynamic populations and the values they hold. We should just pretend mistakes like the demolition of Penn Station never happened instead of learning a valuable lesson about civic pride, public space, detail and history. I'll bring the crumpets.

Paris is a spotlessly preserved bubble city which, through its rigorous preservation laws, has prevented any new construction to occur within the walls of the old city and driven up housing prices to the point that only the wealthy can afford to live there while the poor are left to manage in the fucked up suburbs. Vienna's famous and beautiful Ringstrabe plan was the result of the gentry carving up the city to accommodate their mansions, palaces, museums and theaters, a plan which has been vastly successful in keeping Vienna economically segregated. Florence was vastly renovated by Mussolini to reflect his fascist policies which included a selective reinterpretation of history and displaced thousands of lower class residents in the process.


So take your Paris, I'm positive you can't afford it. I will gladly take my shitty New York, that is, until the 'everything built since 1945 is shit' people like yourself prevent another 1,000' tower from being built in what was once a world capital of change and experiment, and then I'll be off to Mumbai or London or someplace where discourse isn't 'man weren't the 1800s great.'

Sorry for the snarky response. But it was a snarky topic.
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Last edited by CGII; Aug 3, 2011 at 7:37 AM.
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  #9  
Old Posted Aug 3, 2011, 7:44 AM
skyhigh07 skyhigh07 is offline
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Originally Posted by CGII View Post
You're right, pushing envelopes is stupid, let's all go live in a farcical past world that we believe was just tea and sandwiches in the park, let's divide all of architectural history into modernism and classicism, then blame modernism for all of its failures and praise classicism for all of its triumphs. We should keep cities in museums where they can no longer expand or change to reflect or accommodate diverse and dynamic populations and the values they hold. We should just pretend mistakes like the demolition of Penn Station never happened instead of learning a valuable lesson about civic pride, public space, detail and history. I'll bring the crumpets.

Paris is a spotlessly preserved bubble city which, through its rigorous preservation laws, has prevented any new construction to occur within the walls of the old city and driven up housing prices to the point that only the wealthy can afford to live there while the poor are left to manage in the fucked up suburbs. Vienna's famous, beautiful, and famously beautiful Ringstrabe plan was the result of the gentry carving up the city to accommodate their mansions, palaces, museums and theaters, a plan which has been vastly successful in keeping Vienna economically segregated. Florence was vastly renovated by Mussolini to reflect his fascist policies which included a selective reinterpretation of history and displaced thousands of lower class residents in the process.


So take your Paris, I'm positive you can't afford it. I will gladly take my shitty New York, that is, until the 'everything built since 1945 is shit' people like yourself prevent another 1,000' tower from being built in the world capital of change and experimentation, and then I'll be off to Mumbai or London or someplace where discourse isn't 'man weren't the 1800s great.'

Sorry for the snarky response. But it was a snarky topic.
Good. I'm glad we can agree we're all capitalists here. Down with the European paradigm and democratic socialism! Believe it or not I'm not being sarcastic.

You know what... lets draw a comparison on a more national level. You can have downtown Houston, I'll take the quaint cobblestone streets of Beacon Hill.

One more final note of which I will not elaborate considering that my eyelids are beginning to flutter. I'm sorry to inform you, but traditionalism will endure the centuries. People will always value Bach, Mozart, Wagner, crumpets and civility over Lil Wayne, Cheetos and violent flash mobs, which as of late have been terrorizing unsuspecting urbanites (an esoteric reference which a few may know of).

Good night

Last edited by skyhigh07; Aug 3, 2011 at 8:00 AM.
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  #10  
Old Posted Aug 3, 2011, 8:06 AM
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  #11  
Old Posted Aug 3, 2011, 8:29 AM
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Very good point.


And the correct answer is no "modernism" hasn't failed, though my question would be what do you mean by "modernism"? because that is a very general term that was only really meant to reflect the architecture that was being built between 1920-1970ish.

But if your only comparing the difference of what was Penn Station and what is Penn Station now, then that is a different conversation that the one that this thread originally suggests. I would then ask the question, was losing Penn Station a real loss or was Penn Station a martyr for American historical architecture. We go through phases with architecture, the first phase is that it is new and this is what everybody else is doing with building, then after a while it becomes the safe practice because it is how it has always been done. Then comes along a new way of designing and everyone gets excited or hates that, then those buildings that they use to be excited about become "outdated" and old, therefore there is no care for their upkeep that their once was, then those buildings become run down. Then about 50 years in those old buildings are called blights to a city and should be removed for something better, new, and shiny. Then if that building survives another 50 years, it is seen as a symbol of our past and needs to be preserved and cherished like the form of iconic architecture it once was.

Here in Portland we have witnessed this behavior over the years, Old Town was once seen as a blight with buildings run down and about 50 years old, now the buildings are 100 years old and people are talking about what can be done to preserve the buildings and how to blend in any new construction in the district to reflect or look like the old buildings that should be saved.

We have also had a battle for the Memorial Coliseum which is a great example of amazing modernism architecture, but the community sees it as a dingy building that is a blight to the city and needs to be torn down, thankfully that battle was won by preservationists as of now and if the building survives another 50 years, I am sure we will be hearing people talk about how the city needs to protect and respect such an amazing relic of the city.


There is always going to be mistakes made in architecture as styles change and you might not be happy with what replaces it, but in the case of Penn Station, we were not around for that and from what I have learned, there was a period of time where political leaders were doing anything they could to save their cities, which included tearing anything down to make way for new construction. But with Penn Station, the people of NYC had no idea that the city would actually tear down such a landmark and from that it gave them the strength to protect so much of Lower Manhattan from the wrecking ball and highway expansions.
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  #12  
Old Posted Aug 3, 2011, 10:01 AM
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Modernism has evolved over time. It's original examples were quite basic.

Think buildings such as this:


But you evolve through time, and by the 1980's you were seeing more glass oriented buildings such as this:


And more recently you see post-modernism coming into play, where the extremely minimalist designs are changing and becoming more complicated, but not "ornate" by comparison to classical designs.


Conde Nast is a great example of a post-modern modernism that has evolved from the basic roots of the new style. People were looking for an enduring, clean feeling in the modern era.
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  #13  
Old Posted Aug 3, 2011, 10:02 AM
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But if your only comparing the difference of what was Penn Station and what is Penn Station now, then that is a different conversation that the one that this thread originally suggests. I would then ask the question, was losing Penn Station a real loss or was Penn Station a martyr for American historical architecture.
It isn't like all was lost, there is still Grand Central Station, which has been kept alive and added to over the years. It isn't like NY has lost all it's past.
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  #14  
Old Posted Aug 3, 2011, 11:20 AM
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Originally Posted by skyhigh07 View Post
Then why are cities like Paris, Vienna, Venice Florence, Prague etc considered to be the pinnacle of architectural and aesthetic beauty? Why must we reject thousands of years of classicism only to push the limits of a static experiment? A static experiment, which has established "simplicity" through stoicism and functionalism.

I guess its a matter of preference I suppose...

You can have Hong Kong; I'll take Paris.
Well like I stated newer buildings are more about how high can we go and what shape can it be rather than how beautiful can we make it. We gravitate toward old buildings beauty because like was said its no longer made therefore its unique and because much more work went into the small detailing of the structures. Ive always thought of it this way when architects didnt have the elevator to build skyscrapers they poured their creativity into making their buildings beautiful. This also has to do with how materials have changed over the years, you cant sculpt a rococo facade with glass. On that note nobody is going to want to spend triple the money to build a 1000+ foot rococo building, that would make economical sense. Hence the need for modernism.
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  #15  
Old Posted Aug 3, 2011, 12:48 PM
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Originally Posted by skyhigh07 View Post
Good. I'm glad we can agree we're all capitalists here. Down with the European paradigm and democratic socialism! Believe it or not I'm not being sarcastic.

You know what... lets draw a comparison on a more national level. You can have downtown Houston, I'll take the quaint cobblestone streets of Beacon Hill.

One more final note of which I will not elaborate considering that my eyelids are beginning to flutter. I'm sorry to inform you, but traditionalism will endure the centuries. People will always value Bach, Mozart, Wagner, crumpets and civility over Lil Wayne, Cheetos and violent flash mobs, which as of late have been terrorizing unsuspecting urbanites (an esoteric reference which a few may know of).

Good night
Bah! Everything new sucks! Kids and their rap music. I just don't get it! Why won't they pull their damn pants up? Everything old was great! Man the 19th century was such a good time! Hey kids get off the damn lawn!

If you lived in Boston in the 19th century chances are you would probably not be in the lucky 1% income bracket to be living in Beacon Hill. You'd be living in an overcrowded tenement without running water, your sewer was the gutter in front of your door and your lifespan would probably be in the 30s and you probably wouldn't enjoy it. You have created an unrealistic portrait of traditional life in American cities. By placing such unrealistic standards into a design and preservation perspective, you have suffocated cities from what make them beautiful and dynamic; the ability to adapt and change with the people that live in it.

"The denial of the diversity and eloquence of change and continuity, and…the devaluation of those deposits of history and humanity that make our cities vehicles of a special kind of art and experience without parallel or peer. Of course, we like our memories better all cleaned up. The gritty and sometimes unlovely accumulations that characterize cities are the best and worst of what we have produced; they exert a fascination that no neatly edited version can inspire….To edit life, to sanitize the substance of history, is to risk losing the art, actuality, and meaning of the real past and its intrinsic artifacts...What concerns me as much as the state of American building is the American state of mind, in which illusion is preferred over reality to the point where the replica is accepted as genuine and the simulacrum replaces the source. Surrogate experience and surrogate environments have become the American way of life. Distinctions are no longer made, or deemed necessary, between the real and the false; the edge usually goes to the latter, as an improved version with defects corrected - accessible and user-friendly - although the resonance of history and art in the authentic artifact is conspicuously lacking…A public increasingly addicted to fakes and fantasies is unprepared and unwilling to understand the unfamiliar and, often admittedly difficult new work, although its complexities answer to the contemporary condition."-Ada Louise Huxtable, 1997

If you're saying I have to live in Houston to support 'modernism' (whatever that means) because it somehow represents your feelings of the worst of what modernism has done to urban planning then you have to live in Yorkshire in 1900 in to support 'classicism.'


makingthemodernworld.co.uk

Can you smell the cholera?

If you think Houston is pictured as an ideal city by 'modern' architects, then you are probably in the dark about architectural history since 1950.
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Last edited by CGII; Aug 3, 2011 at 1:21 PM.
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  #16  
Old Posted Aug 3, 2011, 2:30 PM
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Lemme answer that question with a glorious and resounding NO:


blogspot.com



Moderism did exactly what it was supposed to do, blast us out of the Stone Age and provide a completely new, refreshing, way of living and building. Can you imagine how radically refreshing it would be to come across this:


aia.org

After endless blocks of 70 year old, dingy, dilapidated brick and stone buildings? I think Modernism, if anything, was too successful and put itself in the position of the very styles it was trying to challenge by becoming the status quo for 30 years.
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  #17  
Old Posted Aug 3, 2011, 3:21 PM
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The answer is: Sort of.

The whole point of modernism was that it would be different from everything else. And, back when it was actually different from everything else, it worked wonderfully. One modernist building surrounded by a bunch of heavy masonry ones is an artistically striking and beautiful statement.

The problem is that modernism, which was intended to be rare, has become common. It doesn't work when it's common. A singular minimalist statement surrounded by ornament is beautiful, but minimalism carried throughout the entire city is boring, depressing, and stifling.

Modernism works as art but fails as a vernacular. The problem is that we adopted it as our vernacular.
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Old Posted Aug 3, 2011, 3:32 PM
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Originally Posted by skyhigh07 View Post
I guess its a matter of preference I suppose...
ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding!

up next: jesus vs. vishnu
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Old Posted Aug 3, 2011, 3:41 PM
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On the subject of Paris, the inner city (original city) is every bit as jaw-droppingly beautiful as the banlieus are mind-bogglingly fugly.

Based on my own observations of my trip to Paris and environs last week.
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Old Posted Aug 3, 2011, 3:52 PM
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It's not a matter of preference. Urban design has real effects on how cities function. Streetscape variety affects walkability.

If walkable cities are a goal, then this question matters. Only if you don't care what urban form cities take can you say that this is simply a matter of preference.
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