Reading: Architecture, chapter twelve, pp. 487-490; 493-503; 509-512

Along with the use of historical styles, the nineteenth century was marked by new structural methods. Undisguised by any ornamental overlay, the new structure appeared in purely utilitarian and temporary structures. In these, steel framework and often glass walls replace traditionally masonry designs with framed openings. Exhibition buildings like the Crystal Palace in London (1851) and the Eiffel Tower in Paris (1889), and greenhouses, bridges (Brooklyn Bridge, opened 1883), factories, and railroad stations show a variety of such applications of the steel framework construction.

In the late nineteenth century there was a reaction against the artificiality of traditional architecture. In Europe, Art Nouveau was decorative rather than structural; its sinuous, organic curves suggested primarily aquatic plant life. In the U.S. the reaction was led by the Chicago School. These architects rejected the traditional vocabulary of historical ornament, sometimes inventing new ornamental forms which expressed new principles of architectural design, especially in their emphasis on the wall as surface rather than mass. For the use of structural steel and ferro-concrete eliminates the load-bearing wall: the wall becomes a surface enclosing spatial volumes. New building types (especially the skyscraper) and the free interpenetration of interior spaces are also made possible by the new construction. Louis Sullivan formulated the principle of "organic" planning, in which the plan is the direct expression of functional relations (exemplified by his phrase "Form follows function"). This principle becomes basic in twentieth century architecture.

Key works:

1. Isambard Kingdom Brunel: Clifton Suspension Bridge, Bristol, England, designed 1829, completed 1864 [ 309]
2. Eugene-Emanuel Viollet-le-Duc: "Discourses on Architecture," 1858- 72 [ 136 illustration of iron-based vaulting]; figs. 769, 770.
3. Gustave Eiffel: Eiffel Tower, Paris, 1889; colorplate 60
4. Louis Sullivan and Dankmar Adler: Wainwright Building, St. Louis, 1890-91 [ 310]; colorplate 62
5. Sullivan: Carson, Pirie, Scott (=Schlesinger and Meyer) Department Store, Chicago, 1899-1904 [ 311 exterior--as modified--today]; figs. 788, 789

Works in context:

  • Two London railway stations: Lewis Cubitt's King's Cross, 1850; and George Gilbert Scott's St. Pancras station and Midland Hotel (1863-- 1876; W.W. Barlow and R.M. Ordish, engineers).
  • Robert Howlett: photograph of Isambard Kingdom Brunel, ca. 1843.
  • Victor Contamin and Charles-L.-F. Dutert: Galerie des Machines (Machine Hall), Paris, 1889; fig. 766
  • Burnham and Root: Monadnock Building, Chicago, 1891
  • Adler and Sullivan, Guaranty Building, Buffalo, 1894-95
  • Terms:

  • Art Nouveau
  • functionalism
  • reinforced concrete
  • Beaux Arts
  • curtain wall
  • load-bearing wall
  • cantilever