Built for the 1964 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, the Yoyogi National Gymnasium has become an architectural icon for its distinctive design. Designed by one of Japan’s most famous modernist architects, Kenzo Tange, the gymnasium is a hybridization of western modernist aesthetics and traditional Japanese architecture.
Tange’s innovative structural design creates dramatic sweeping curves that appear to effortlessly drape from two large, central supporting cables. It’s dynamically suspended roof and rough materials form one of the most iconic building profiles in the world.
More on the Yoyogi National Gymnasium by Kenzo Tange after the break.
- Feb 8 -
- Andrew Kroll -
- AD Architecture Classics Cultural Exhibition Monuments and Memorials Pavilion
As part of the1929 International Exposition in Barcelona Spain, the Barcelona Pavilion, designed by Mies van der Rohe, was the display of architecture’s modern movement to the world. Originally named the German Pavilion, the pavilion was the face of Germany after WWI, emulating the nation’s progressively modern culture that was still rooted in its classical history. Its elegant and sleek design combined with rich natural material presented Mies’ Barcelona Pavilion as a bridge into his future career, as well as architectural modernism.
More on the Barcelona Pavilion after the break.
Hans Scharoun is a well known German architect best known for his design of the Berlin Philharmonic concert hall in Berlin, Germany. Completed in 1963, Scharoun’s organic and futuristic aesthetic interpretation for the concert was a replacement for the previous Philharmonic that was destroyed in WWII. Scharoun’s design was fairly straightforward that focused on placing music at the center of his design, both conceptually and physically. From the center, the music would be amplified and filtered throughout the auditorium.
More on the Berlin Philharmonic after the break.
One of the most important architects of the 20th Century, yet often overlooked, Richard Neutra has been on the forefront of modern residential architecture. After moving to the United States from Vienna, Austria in 1923, Neutra worked with Frank Lloyd Wright and Rudolf Schindler until 1930 when he started his own practice. One of Neutra’s several iconic projects is the Kaufmann House in Palm Springs, California. Completed between 1946-1947, the Kaufmann House was a vacation home for Edgar J. Kaufmann Sr. and his family to escape the harsh winters of the northeast.
More on the Kaufmann House after the break.
In the small town of Ibaraki, 25km outside of Osaka, Japan, stands one of Tadao Ando’s signature architectural works, the Church of the Light. The Church of the Light embraces Ando’s philosophical framework between nature and architecture through the way in which light can define and create new spatial perceptions equally, if not more so, as that of his concrete structures. Completed in 1989, the Church of the Light was a renovation to an existing Christian compound in Ibaraki. The new church was the first phase to a complete redesign of the site – later completed in 1999 – under Ando’s design aesthetic.
More on the Church of the Light after the break.
After the completion of Centre Pompidou in 1977 with Renzo Piano, Richard Rogers was commissioned to design a new building to replace the original Lloyd’s insurance building in London. It would be the second expansion in the history of the company’s headquarters due to the overcrowded conditions of hundreds of people working with international insurance cases. Completed in1986, the Lloyd’s building brought a high-tech architectural aesthetic to the medieval financial district of London that was previous implemented in the design of the Centre Pompidou in Paris.
Since 1928, the site has been home to the Lloyd’s of London; one of the largest insurance firms in the world dating back to the 17th Century. After it originated in the 17th Century, the Lloyd’s of London has grown from an insurance company dealing from within the United Kingdom to working on a global scale, taking on staff and clientele at an unprecedented rate, which has required several expansions; the largest and most prominent being Roger’s.
In 1981, the newly elected French president, Francois Mitterrand, launched a campaign to renovate cultural institutions throughout France. One of the most advantageous of those projects was the renovation and reorganization of the Louvre. In 1983 after touring Europe and the United States, President Mitterrand commissioned the Chinese American architect, I.M. Pei. It was the first time that a foreign architect was enlisted to work on the Louvre museum.
Completed in 1989, I.M. Pei’s renovation redesigned Cour Napoleon, the main court of the Louvre, in order to alleviate the congestion from the thousands of daily visitors. A new grand entrance provided a convenient, central lobby space separate from the galleries, which provided focal point for the cyclical process of one’s experience through the museum. In addition to providing a new entrance to the Louvre, Pei’s design featured a new underground system of galleries, storage, and preservation laboratories, as well as a connection between the wings of the museum. The addition and relocation of the supporting spaces of the museum allowed for the Louvre to expand its collection and place more work on exhibit.
After World War II, post-war Europe was suffering from a lack of housing with many displaced people from the extensive bombing raids. In response to the housing crisis in Europe, Le Corbusier began delving into designing large scale, communal residences for the victims of World War II. One of the most notable projects in this series was the Unite d’ Habitation in Marseilles, France. This project had inspired a continued implementation of the design type across Europe. The fourth building in the series is the Corbusierhaus in Berlin, Germany. Completed in 1959, it was designed as a symbol for the modernization of Germany after the war and the Cold War.
Along the eastern branch of the Chicago River lies one of the most formally interesting skyscrapers in all of Chicago, Marina City by Bertrand Goldberg. Completed in 1964, Marina City, at the time, was the tallest residential projects in the world and still remains one of the densest inhabited developments. Unlike any project before it, Marina City was an experiment of allocating diverse programs into a “city within a city.” Although, it is not as widely recognized as the Sears Tower or the John Hancock Building, Marina City’s distinctive “corn-cob” shape has a strong presence among modern architecture, as well as Chicago’s skyline.
Louis Kahn was known for his infusion of culture and creating a sense of place within modern architecture. Although it may not be as well known as some of his other projects around the world, the First Unitarian Church in Rochester, New York is one of Kahn’s most impressive works. Completed slightly after the Salk Institute in 1967, it replaced their previous church that was designed by Richard Upjohn, founder of the AIA, which was demolished during urban redevelopment in Rochester. The First Unitarian Church combines modern design aesthetic with traditional Unitarian values that promotes community and unites everyone at the heart of the building, the sanctuary.
In the commune of Ronchamp, slightly south of east of Paris, sits one of Le Corbusier’s most unusual projects of his career, Notre Dame du Ronchamp, or more commonly referred to as Ronchamp. In 1950, Le Corbusier was commissioned to design a new Catholic church to replace the previous church that had been destroyed during World War II.
The site of Ronchamp has long been a religious site of pilgrimage that was deeply rooted in Catholic tradition, but after World War II the church wanted a pure space void of extravagant detail and ornate religious figures unlike its predecessors. Ronchamp is deceptively modern such that it does not appear as a part of Corbusier’s aesthetic or even that of the International Style; rather it sits in the site as a sculptural object. The inability to categorize Ronchamp has made it one of the most important religious buildings of the 20th Century, as well as Corbusier’s career.
Situated in Poissy, a small commune outside of Paris, is one of the most significant contributions to modern architecture in the 20th century, Villa Savoye by Le Corbusier. Completed in 1929, Villa Savoye is a modern take on a French country house that celebrates and reacts to the new machine age. The house single handedly transformed Le Corbusier’s career as well as the principles of the International Style; becoming one of the most important architectural precedents in the history. Villa Savoye’s detachment from its physical context lends its design to be contextually integrated into the mechanistic/industrial context of the early 20th century, conceptually defining the house as a mechanized entity.
While Louis Kahn was designing the National Assembly Building in Bangladesh in 1962, he was approached by an admiring Indian architect, Balkrishna Doshi, to design the 60 acre campus for the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad, India. Much like his project in Bangladesh, he was faced with a culture enamored in tradition, as well as an arid desert climate. For Kahn, the design of the institute was more than just efficient spatial planning of the classrooms; he began to question the design of the educational infrastructure where the classroom was just the first phase of learning for the students.
- Oct 20 -
- Andrew Kroll -
- AD Architecture Classics Cultural Institutional Architecture Monuments and Memorials Politics
Modernist architecture is traditionally understood to be utilitarian, sleek, and most of all without context, such that it can be placed in any context and still stay true to aesthetic principles and its functional requirements. However, Louis Kahn’s National Assembly Building of Bangladesh in Dhaka is an extraordinary example of modern architecture being transcribed as a part of Bangali vernacular architecture. The National Assembly building, completed in 1982, stands as one of Kahn’s most prominent works, but also as a symbolic monument to the government of Bangladesh.