Ornament Is Crime is a celebration and a thought-provoking reappraisal of modernist architecture. The book proposes that modernism need no longer be confined by traditional definitions, and can be seen in both the iconic works of the modernist canon by Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe, and Walter Gropius, as well as in the work of some of the best contemporary architects of the twenty-first century. This book is a visual manifesto and a celebration of the most important architectural movement in modern history.
Overall, I think this is a great post and, while I am not familiar with the literature on ornamentation, I would be interested to see how leading scholars would interpret the state police officers featured in the State House on Friday. Would these individuals qualify as a form of ornamentation? To what extent does ornamentation have to be a permanent component of architecture?
When modern architecture was first practiced, it was an avant-garde movement with moral, philosophical, and aesthetic underpinnings. Immediately after World War I, pioneering modernist architects sought to develop a completely new style appropriate for a new post-war social and economic order, focused on meeting the needs of the middle and working classes. They rejected the architectural practice of the academic refinement of historical styles which served the rapidly declining aristocratic order. The approach of the Modernist architects was to reduce buildings to pure forms, removing historical references and ornament in favor of functional details. Buildings displayed their functional and structural elements, exposing steel beams and concrete surfaces instead of hiding them behind decorative forms. Architects such as Frank Lloyd Wright developed organic architecture, in which the form was defined by its environment and purpose, with an aim to promote harmony between human habitation and the natural world with prime examples being Robie House and Fallingwater.
Beginning in the late 1950s and 1960s, architectural phenomenology emerged as an important movement in the early reaction against modernism, with architects like Charles Moore in the United States, Christian Norberg-Schulz in Norway, and Ernesto Nathan Rogers and Vittorio Gregotti, Michele Valori, Bruno Zevi in Italy, who collectively popularized an interest in a new contemporary architecture aimed at expanding human experience using historical buildings as models and precedents. Postmodernism produced a style that combined contemporary building technology and cheap materials, with the aesthetics of older pre-modern and non-modern styles, from high classical architecture to popular or vernacular regional building styles. Robert Venturi famously defined postmodern architecture as a "decorated shed" (an ordinary building which is functionally designed inside and embellished on the outside) and upheld it against modernist and brutalist "ducks" (buildings with unnecessarily expressive tectonic forms).
Concurrently, the recent movements of New Urbanism, Metaphoric architecture, Complementary architecture and New Classical architecture promote a sustainable approach towards construction that appreciates and develops smart growth, architectural tradition and classical design. This in contrast to modernist and globally uniform architecture, as well as leaning against solitary housing estates and suburban sprawl. Glass curtain walls, which were the hallmark of the ultra modern urban life in many countries surfaced even in developing countries like Nigeria where international styles had been represented since the mid 20th Century mostly because of the leanings of foreign-trained architects.
Michael Graves practiced modern architecture. His early architecture includes white geometric volumes composed of clean, sparse lines with no ornamentation. Some of his designs were famous for their hulking masses and for his highly personal Cubist interpretations. Though sometimes perceived as awkward, these structures were acclaimed for their powerful and energetic presence. 2b1af7f3a8