Sunday, September 28, 2008
Art Nouveau & Vienna Secession B
The Industrial Revolution brought about many technological advancements that ultimately lead to the development of the skyscraper. The use of iron and later steel as well as the elevator were key factors. During the 1870's, skyscrapers were starting to be built in America; prior to that time, a six story structure was the limit (Morrison, 111). The skyscrapers of the late 19th century were seen as architectural challenges as their height and volume were considered artistic liabilities versus assets (Morrison, 113). Architects at this time, tried to diminish the height of the building and reduce the effect of volume. Louis Sullivan was a pioneer in modern American architecture who was willing to use ornamentation in his work. His architecture and interior design were reflective of the Art Nouveau movement that was popular from 1890 to 1905. Art Nouveau can be characterized by organic forms and curved design especially stylized floral and other plant inspired motifs (Wikipedia, 1). This movement was a rejection of the past and considered a bridge between historicism of Neoclassicism and Modernism (Wikipedia, 1). As Sullivan had a key interest in the "tall" building as a design problem, he devised a unique solution. His theory was to accept the practical conditions of the building, it's height and volume, and make beauty a part of the practicality (Morrison, 122). Sullivan gave visual unity to the skyscraper; he treated the building like a classic column articulating the base, shaft and capital (Morrison, 125). Sullivan's buildings "all have a simple vertical emphasis externally, rich but appropriate decorative detail, and public-space interiors filled with fine ornament" ( Pile, 298). His Wainwright building in St. Louis was thought to be the first successful solution to the skyscraper. The decorative details of predominantly organic shapes created a rich texture on a plane surface. This use of detail on the exterior of buildings to develop a unified as well as an aesthetically pleasing look exhibits creativity. Do you feel that the same can be said about modern, current day skyscrapers? Have the architectural details and interest of the late 19th century been lost to purely functional buildings? Was the invention of the skyscraper a positive force in the urban development of cities as well as the later development of commercial architecture?
This blog is intended for the interior design students in the college of design at the University of Kentucky. It was created with the intent to present students with information, providing them with a channel for contemplation and discussion.