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Postmodern Architecture

Postmodern Architecture

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Author: Sophia Tutorial
Description:

Identify Postmodern aesthetics in architecture.

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what's covered
This lesson is about postmodern architecture. By the end of the lesson today, you’ll be able to describe the differences between Modernism and Postmodernism, and identify examples of postmodern architecture. Postmodern architecture reacts against the rigid and formal elements of Modernism and is characterized by its neo-eclectic style. You will cover:
  1. Neo-Eclectic
  2. Sony Building
  3. Piazza d’Italia
  4. Guggenheim Museum

The architecture that we’ll look at today dates from between 1964 and 1997. File:1257-5time.png


1. Neo-Eclectic

Postmodern architecture, in a nutshell, includes combinations of styles and aesthetics, has sculptural forms, organic forms, and irony and wit. You may recall from a previous lesson how Postmodernism often combines the old with the new and in the process creates a style that is decidedly unique.

did you know
One of the most characteristic qualities of Postmodernism is the idea of neo-eclectic composition, in which several styles are combined into one.

Vanna Venturi House by Robert Venturi1964Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Vanna Venturi House by Robert Venturi
1964
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

terms to know
Neo-Eclectic Composition
The combination of several styles in one building
Irony
A sarcastic humor
Organic Forms
Form defined by its simulation of natural substance; not rigid or geometric

IN CONTEXT

An agreement with Target stores saw numerous household items redesigned by the famous architect, Michael Graves, such as this tea kettle:

Tea kettle by Michael Graves1984
Tea kettle by Michael Graves
1984


He’s designed numerous buildings, and has built a reputation as one of the finest architects in the world. He designed the Dolphin Resort at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida:

Dolphin Resort at Walt Disney World by Michael Graves1990Orlando, Florida
Dolphin Resort at Walt Disney World by Michael Graves
1990
Orlando, Florida


He also designed the Portland Building in Portland, Oregon:

Portland Building by Michael Graves1982Portland, Oregon
Portland Building by Michael Graves
1982
Portland, Oregon
big idea
Postmodern architecture reacts against the rigid and formal elements of Modernism, and is characterized by its neo-eclectic style.


2. Sony Building

One of the big problems that postmodern architects saw with Modernism was its reliance on form following function. This was seen as a severe limitation. Architects such as Philip Johnson worked in minimalistic design. Johnson was an associate architect on the Seagram’s Building by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. He responded to this issue of form following function by incorporating purely aesthetic ornamentation into their designs, like in the Sony Building, with its uniquely designed roof and cathedralesque seven-story entryway.  

Sony Building by Philip Johnson1984New York City, New York
Sony Building by Philip Johnson
1984
New York City, New York

3. Piazza d’Italia

Charles Moore was one of the pioneers in postmodern architecture, helping to define the genre by incorporating elements such as ornamentation, playfulness, and wit into his designs. These defining characteristics can be seen in his Piazza d’Italia, which was commissioned by Italian-American community leaders of New Orleans.

Piazza d’Italia by Charles Moore1990New Orleans, Louisiana
Piazza d’Italia by Charles Moore
1990
New Orleans, Louisiana

These characteristics show up in how he incorporates modern materials, such as stainless steel, and minimalist design elements to put a modern spin on a classical form of architecture.


4. Guggenheim Museum

Aside from Michael Graves, the postmodern architect that the average person has probably heard of before is Frank Gehry. His unique aesthetic is truly unlike anything you’ve probably seen before. His deconstructivist style can take on many forms; however, many of his most famous designs feature an exterior that has this wavy, playful, organic-looking titanium skin that completely belies the belief in form following function.

Guggenheim Museum by Frank Gehry1997Bilbao, Spain
Guggenheim Museum by Frank Gehry
1997
Bilbao, Spain

summary
Now that you’ve seen the lesson, are you able to identify and define today’s key terms? Can you describe the differences between Modernism and Postmodernism? Can you identify examples of postmodern architecture? Postmodern architecture reacts against the rigid and formal elements of Modernism, and is characterized by its neo-eclectic style. You looked at several important examples, such as the Sony Building, the Piazza d’Italia, and the Guggenheim Museum.

Source: This work is adapted from Sophia author Ian McConnell

Terms to Know
Irony

A sarcastic humor.

Neo-Eclectic Composition

The combination of several styles in one building.

Organic Forms

Forms defined by its simulation of natural substance; not rigid or geometric.