Originally Posted by Cirrus
Please go back and read any of the several times I explained the difference between "traditional" and "historicist".
I am not talking about "old-looking".
OK, well it's not traditional either unless you think good urban design is exclusively traditional. I mean what architecture doesn't "seek to create beauty through decoration". You don't understand the history of modernism if you think that the great Modernists didn't decorate their buildings. Even Mies buildings were heavily decorative, he just used steel detailing to decorate his buildings.
If you are going to use that definition then you are simply talking about the difference between cheap buildings and expensive ones. For example, my house was built at the peak of the Victorian period, yet has absolutely no ornament (and I like that way!) at all. Its literally two full floors of siding with a third, peaked floor, as the attic. What's the difference between that and a Victorian monstrosity dripping in carved wood? Is the Victorian house more "traditional" than my 1898 worker's cottage? No, the difference is my house was probably built by the people who lived in it while the Victorian was built by some rich merchant who paid out the ass for a fancy "dollhouse".
Same applies throughout the history of architecture. Even at the peak of the International Style the highest end building were dripping in decoration. You may not see it as decoration yourself, but the Cor-Ten on the Daley Center in Chicago is not just structural. It is specifically chosen to look a certain way and appear ultra strong and powerful. There is a distinct aesthetic, informed by the structure of the building itself, but expressed explicitly through the "decorative" way in which the steel was constructed and the way the corners were finished, and the way in which the glass meets the plaza, and the way in which the granite of the plaza matches and complements the steel and glass. If they didn't decorate it, it would just be a box made of the cheapest available materials with a large concrete plaza. But they did decorate it, they just used materials that you don't consider to be decorative, in a decorative manner. And to that I say, wood was not originally decorative, but someone found out how to carve it. Stone was not originally decorative, but someone decided to start making ionic columns with it. Brick was not originally decorative until someone decided to lay it in fancy patterns. And, in 1850, steel and glass were not decorative until Mies and others came along and used it as decoration.
So I say that, if those row homes are "traditional", then Daley Plaza and 860-880 LSD must be traditional as well because they are just as decorative. Of course not all modern buildings are so delicately detailed, but neither were all old buildings like my house. That's because 860-880 was the Victorian home of its day while the bland concrete boxes that line LSD were the workers cottages of their day. So if I take your definition that is the conclusion that I come to and it says nothing about modernism since the pinnacle modernist buildings were clearly traditional.
I leave you with a picture of one of the most decorative buildings around, the Inland Steel Building:
Inland Steel is covered in stainless steel panels which cost fantastically more to fabricate that just about any other logical material that could be used to clad a building. The green glass was also more expensive and chosen to complement the steel. The columns and spandrels that jut out are also decorative and add expense. The cantilevered floor plates at the end of the building are also purely decorative. When you total up all these extra expenses, something like this couldn't even be built today because it uses such premium finishes. So it may not look decorative to you, but it most certainly is and is decorated to achieve a very specific aesthetic.
On a side note, I also like this picture because it shows the building in context. Such a building looks like a fabulous jewel among ratty old boulders. This radical newness was the goal of the modernists. They wanted to achieve a new aesthetic that would change the way we work and live and its quite clear from pictures like this and the subsequent acceptance of modern design that they were wildly successful in achieving such goals.