To Conclusion Marcel Breuer and Associates, Whitney museum

To conclude
postmodernism is often misunderstood and hence critics and people underestimate
its potential. It’s evolved beyond the modernist visions of Le Corbusier and
Mies Van de Rohe, claiming its own style, offering architects a wider variety
of vocabulary to work with. It offers a more challenging approach to how an
architect wants the audience to perceive his design giving the building
context. This encourages the client to engage and interact with the
architecture more than a modernist building would allow. This is mainly due to
the presence of bright colours, variety of materials and shapes as well as
structure and most of all literary illusions, which I described in the Piazza
d’Italia. This is because post modernists don’t believe in the truth and see it
as a contrived illusion. This is what allowed post modernism to be
distinguished from other styles. It has proved that it has come a long way from
when it first started, moving away from modernist burdens that restrained
architects. The progression that started with structures as the Piazza d’Italia
and gradually become what we today, take for granted. Post modernism has given
us what the science, technology, government and religion that modernism promised
but did not fulfil. As well as this postmodernism stands behind the fact that morality
is personal and so everyone has their own ethics and morals which are apart of
there code and so there is no need to follow tradition which modernism so fondly
believed in.



Breuer and Associates, Whitney museum of American Art New York 1963-66. This
museum is the heart of the “uptown” galleries district. Breuer at the beginning
was one of the leading architects who did not believe in architecture as a
modernist “box” based upon how a building is represented by functionality.
Although his work isn’t postmodern I believe it is significant because it is
still regarded contemporary and many American postmodern architects such as
Michael Graves question his choices and challenge his architecture. Going a bit
into his design Marcel Breuer used spatial forms to show expressive qualities
using sensual textures of building materials and of abstract “plastic.” While
the top floor is taken up by offices and a penthouse the bottom floors are
occupied with public restrooms, storage and a cafeteria with a view of the
sculpture garden. The building is successful in creating a public place to the
city. The building functions well with the city but how does it appear on the
streetscape visually is what architect Michael Graves questioned. Showing that
the battle between modernism vs postmodernism continues even today.  

Another architect
well known for American postmodernism architecture is Michael Graves who has
had designed a lot of buildings around the 1980’s such as Schulman House, Cooks
House, Fargo-Moorhead cultural centre, and Sunar Showroom. Michael Graves input
to American architecture was one of the most significant with buildings that he
designed such as the Portland Building his first commission and maybe even the
most ambitious project talked about in the direction of postmodernist
architecture. The Building is 15 stories, and on its first two floors it
already contains an auditorium, two meeting rooms, a visuals art gallery and a
restaurant. The first two floors appear to be separate from the remainder of
the building as it’s the only part that is coloured in a turquoise as if to
neglect the idea of the quote “never paint a house green” a modernist expression.
The remaining floors above appear to function on its own creating this idea of
a small village within the building. By doing this it highlights the different
functional features of the building bringing about lively and adventurous
atmosphere to the building as if to “…make a statement…” as progressive
architecture critic Susan Doubilet suggested.

Both Venturi
and Moore’s work including Xanadune and Krege College began to inspire more architects,
here I will look closely at other examples of postmodernist building in
America. Starting off with Moore’s Krege College situated within dense woods
this residential college contains student housing, classrooms, commons and
service buildings. What’s interesting is the contrast between the interior
coloured in white painted stucco and the exterior in natural terra cotta (Monitor, 2018). However, the main feature that I’m interested in is
the octagonal eating room and meeting hall. What catches my eye is the way the
white paint is coated with primary colours as shown in the image which very
similar to Avante Garde. I also like design of the floor as its spirals inward
around within the area. ­­

American Architecture


Not long
after this Charles Moore created the Piazza d’Italia located at the Lafayette
and Commerce Streets in downtown New Orleans, Louisiana, regarded as a turn of
the New millennium. This Building is very significant to post modernism as it
is one of the first buildings that allowed postmodern architecture to emerge in
the United states, better still the whole world. The building was directed at
the local Italian population and because of this was often referred to as the
first “postmodern ruin” as it was uncommon to the New Orleanais. Its first
impression wasn’t great, and many critics argued that it was too much and that
it contained a lot of questionable ingredients. However, this did not stop the
clients from enjoying it as they seemed to love it and so should we.
Postmodernism aims to interlink people together more specifically in this
scenario Italian Piazza to the southern United States through form and architectural
language.  Some of the Piazza’s features
include variations of windows of which include smooth, relatively regular, and
angular, as well as large colourful circular Piazza creating negative form as
it surprises the audience from the comparison of the surrounding modernist
American architecture. This creates a sense of dislocation as the piazza
presents a nostalgic picture of Italian renaissance, baroque palaces and its
complex piazzas. It created this weird sensation that your far away from home
making you feel disorientated. It also appears to be dislocated because it is
in fact only a façade not realism, but a stage set with a new modern context
creating a mixture of feelings. The art movement pop art is used within the
Piazza as the Arcades placed in front of the convex façade of the building. The
suitable coloured continuum creates an ironic preference to the five orders
(Doric, Ionic, Corinthian, Tuscan and Composite) of classical orders of
architecture. Once again, the Piazza d’Italia is one of the most important and
striking examples of postmodernist buildings in the world. I feel like the
colours and complex features work together in contrast to the surrounding building
to bring out the bespoke cultures of Italian piazzas. It is a piece of
architecture as well as a piece of theatre. A place for people to gather but
also a place of excitement and games and what’s so bad about that?

Here I will
begin to examine American postmodernist architecture more specifically, and who
better to start with other than American architect Charles Moore (31st
October 1995 – 16th December 1993). Notable for building family
homes across the United States, Charles Moore was very ambitious and was
indulged with the pathetic fallacy of his designs. A house should have eyes and
ears and arms and a heart, and it should talk to you while you’re in it. He
believed in the essence of fiction, as he wanted to create a sense that when
you are in a residence, it should feel like you’re at home, welcoming you to
‘take a seat’ or ‘gather here’. Charles more wanted to allow a building to
engage with people instead of the other way around which le Corbusier believed
in with his famous quote, “A house is a machine for living in.” Charles Moore
wanted to get away from this idea within modernism and come up with his own
vocabulary to explore post modern questioning. He likes playing around with
different ideas trying to push past boundaries getting his influences from,
Italian Hill towns, California bungalows, and even Disney land. One of his
first pieces of work was the Klotz Westerly Rhode Island 1969. The design was
interlocking from first impression, with windows set at an angle from each
other and simple yet confusing floor plans made up of two octangular forms.

Moore, Piazza d’Italia.


is a broad movement which developed in the mid 1960’s as a way of moving beyond
the restrictions of modernism. Great American architect Ludwig Mies Van de Rohe
a pioneer of modernist Architecture believed, “Less is more” (Lecture Notes) using pure forms and stripping a
building of complicated designs to allow for a better understanding of the
functions and systems. Allowing the audience to have a stronger appreciation of
the structure as well as creating powerful expressions. Over all simplicity was
preferred. Robert Venturi then replied sarcastically “Less is a bore” (Lecture Notes) using complexity in his work which
began this revolutionary point in Architectural history. It is this bold move
which allowed us to break free of the burdens and restrictions that were
associated with modernism, and bring about “Complexity and Contradiction” (Robert Venturi, 1966) This idea was based on engaging
the audience with something that appears more sophisticated allowing the
observer to think more loosely. Taking the expression from the complicated form
to try to interpret what the author is portraying. Rather than making it “easy”
and standardized, it’d be better to create a variety. An example that he used
was a series of Michelangelo’s unfinished works which were dynamic and depend
upon inclusion, challenging the imagination, and perception of the audience.
Just as the contradictions of scale and context in Pop art can be used to
influence architecture. Post modernism has therefore moved away from being
straightforward and allowed us to create more vivid expressions with different
layers of meaning, moving away from architectural blandness and traditional
modernist architecture. Postmodern architecture is all about the context behind
the designs; the way material of fiction allows a building to become a work of
art and not just a functional tool nor a means of portrayal. As Robert Venturi
explores in this book “learning from Las Vegs” (Robert
Venturi, 1972) which explains how modernism’s disregard of ornamentation
was a crime as he creates a void between the idea of a “duck” and a “decorated
shed” Explaining how some buildings are symbols of themselves determined by
what the shape of their design foretells, “duck.” While other buildings are a
common structure with a purpose only determined by the characteristics that
decorate the building, “decorated shed.” Modernism was all about the “duck”
more expressive through form and volume. Whereas, postmodernism supported by
the quote, “not just function but fiction” is about communicating context by
presenting symbolic forms in the foreground, which architects Charles Willard
Moore, Aldo Rossi, Oswald Mathias Unger and of course Robert Venturi were all
about. Building a story for everyone to respond to with the input of their
emotional experiences.

and Robert Venturi

This essay
is about American postmodern architecture where I will take a second look and
get a deeper impression of this subject, reflecting upon how the architecture
makes the observer feel. Postmodernism movement is complex. On one hand it
leaves people upset, angry, curious, exhausted or contaminated often making
people dislike postmodernism. On the Other hand, with a little context,
postmodernism is intelligent, playful, fascinating and a work of art. Offering
daring combinations used to settle different compromises. Personally, I feel as
if we should be anxious to view the challenges postmodernist architects offer
as they push their crazy ideals and architectural vocabulary onto the audience
to get us out of our comfort zone and experience something new and innovative.
I mean how often is it we get the chance to see a dancing building (Prague
Czech Republic), an Upside-Down House (Szymbark, Poland), or even a Piazza in
the middle of a city where it doesn’t fit. These ideas go against the modernist
formalisation that Le Corbusier and Ludwig Mies Van de Rohe stood behind. It is
this reaction that was needed to question the rigid boundaries of modernism by
encompassing a wider range of techniques themes and formats.

“I don’t
like postmodernism?” Should I?” Must I?”

Postmodernism is one of the more challenging and controversial movements
in Architecture in contemporary history. Describe its key features and identify
the factors within Modernism that led to its emergence. Identify at least one
key building which personifies Postmodernism’s key features, describe the
context within which this building has been designed.