How Three Colleges Brought Modernist Design to the US

Entries to the Chicago Trinbune Competition, such as this one by Gropius and Meyer, may have sparked debate about in the US, but lost to a more traditional design. However, a decade and a half later, for three colleges revived the debate. Image via thecharnelhouse.org

Though modernism was developed in the 1920s, and was popular among many architects by the time the 1930s arrived, in many places it took years for the style to gain favor among clients. In the USA, people often point to the 1922 Chicago Tribune Tower Competition as a turning point, the winning entry was actually a neo-gothic design. In this article, which originally appeared on Curbed, Marni Epstein looks at another potential turning point: three high-profile competitions in the late 1930s where modernist designs were (sometimes controversially) successful.

The Great Depression of the 1930s hit everyone, and hard—even architects and draftsmen found themselves out of work as development and construction dried up amid vanishing capital. They found a partial solution in the Historic American Buildings Survey and Historic American Engineering Record, two programs of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration that involved surveying and cataloging the country’s existing infrastructure. These programs, however, were a long way from the prestige, creativity, and financial rewards that came with new architectural commissions. The work available was limited, and what work existed was focused on the architecture of the past, not designs for the future.

AD Classics: The Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption / Pietro Belluschi and Pier-Luigi Nervi

© Liao Yusheng

With the fascinating fusion of traditional Catholic faith and modern technology, the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption has become a distinct landmark in the cityscape of . Designed by architects and Pier Luigi Nervi using what was considered the most top of the line engineering, the form of the chapel attracts visitors from all parts of the world and religious spectrum.

More history on the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption after the break.

Architecture City Guide: Portland

This week our Architecture City Guide is headed to Portland, Oregon. As one of the greenest cities in the world, it is a leader in sustainable architecture. Even though Portland is only the 29th most populous city in the U.S., it has the second highest number of LEED-accredited buildings. Only Chicago, a city more than four times the size of Portland, has more green buildings. Beyond its contemporary and green architecture it has a good variety of historic buildings that are worth visiting. We have put together a list of 12 contempory buildings to visit, but since we limited it to 12, it is far from complete. We would like you, our readers, to suggest other “must not miss” in the comment section after the break.

Architecture City Guide: Portland list and corresponding map after the break!