History of Architecture and Urbanism II

Alex Maymind
Fall 2016
Final Take?Home Exam
Each answer must be 150 to 400 words. To be typed, not hand?written. Email your
final exam to your discussion leader.
Due: Tuesday, December 20th, 6 pm.
The concept of ?modern architecture? underpins?the second half of this?course. As
argued throughout the lectures?and in the course readings, there are seemingly many
different interpretations?and views?on what exactly ?modern architecture? is, how it
might be ideologically and formally different from what came before (ie. historicism,
eclecticism, the march of the styles, ?history? itself), and what architecture and
modernity have to do with one another. Throughout the semester, it has?been argued
that ?modern architecture? can be understood variously as?a specific?epoch, an origin
point, an ideology, a style, an anti?style, a source of ethics, a pedagogy, a
historically?determined canon, a technological viewpoint, a historical inevitability, even
a contemporary design clich?. Pick?a building discussed in class?and explain its
relationship to the larger concept of ?modern architecture.?
Engineering and architecture are two fields?of knowledge that continually intersect and
bifurcate in the period that we have been studying. What is?relationship between
architecture and engineering in modern architecture; in other words, what contribution
does?engineering make that architecture can?t make itself? What is?to be gained by
looking closer at engineering, according to Le Corbusier?
Abbe Laugier?s?primitive hut served as?a crucial cultural object in the architecture of
the Enlightenment and the debates?we tracked throughout the 18th century. In the
following quote from Laugier?s?seminal text, what is?he imploring architects?of his?day
to do?
?Such is?the course of simple nature; by?imitating the natural process, art was?born.
All the splendors?of architecture ever conceived have been modeled on the little
rustic?hut I have just described. It is?by?approaching the simplicity?of this?first model
that fundamental mistakes?are avoided and true perfection is?achieved.?
Both Mies?vs. Le Corbusier spend a considerable part of their early lives?as?architects
thinking about the implications?of concrete, steel, and glass?as??new? materials?in the
1910s?and 1920s. Yet these materials?had been around since roughly 1850 if not
much longer in the case of concrete. How do they argue for the ?modernity? of these
materials?and what do they propose comes?from this?new approach to materials?
Cartesian perspectivalism is?arguably one of the most central concepts?to
understanding the art and architecture of the Renaissance. What is?the connection
between the development and codification of perspective and the early work?of
Brunelleschi and Alberti? What is?the role of the grid in both?
What is?Bucky Fuller?s?Dymaxion house attempting to achieve? Why did it fail? In what
ways?did it succeed?
What is?the difference between how architecture was?taught at the Ecole des?Beaux
Arts?versus?at the Ecole Polytechnique around 1800? What kind of products?did the
students?produce? What model of creativity is?inherent in each?
What is?the relationship between the Republic?of Congo and the art nouveau? What is
the whiplash style? How can we understand the colonialist regime of Belgium through
their architecture at this?particular historical juncture?
What is?the definition of the avant?garde in modernism? How do the various?factions?of
early 20th century architecture such as?the Futurists?consider themselves?to be
avant?garde, if they do at all?
Adolf Loos? famous?essay ?Ornament and Crime? contains?the following quote:
?You are kind enough to describe my?activity?to date as??architectural.? Unfortunately
it isn?t. True we live in an age when even a designer of carpets?calls?himself an
architect. Not that it matters. In America, even the people who install central heating
call themselves?engineers. But the decoration of apartments?has?nothing to do with
architecture. It has?simply?provided me with a living, simply?because it is?something I
knowhowto do. Just as?in America, I kept the wolf from the door for a time by
washing dishes.?
What is?his?personal definition of architecture and how does?his?own work?elucidate or
contradict his?position on the definition of architecture and the role of ornament in
modern culture?

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