Flaviu's Blog - Read'n'Code

Architecture Saturday Part 6: Industrial and Mechanical Age

The Crystal Palace above is the pantheon of the Industrial Revolution. Built in 3 days without a scaffold by unskilled workers, it was scorned by architects for invalidating their existence.

But come on, as Wayne says in Wayne’s World, “we fear change.” Just look at Paris’ Bibliotheque Nationale:

It has 9 graceful (Pantheon-like) domes inside of it. Who wouldn’t want to read day and night in there?

I won’t even mention Grand Central Station, since we’ll cover the US a tad later in the post.

Of course, for every action there is a reaction (Newton’s 3rd law of motion). So, some architects tried to bring about a Gothic Revival:

And then there was the decadence from the obscenely wealthy, like Ludwig II, the crazy Bavarian King that built himself a copy of the Versailles and this little Summer house:

My favorite designer of this period is William Morris, who mostly made wallpaper and interior decoration, and said wise things:

Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.

The US began leading the charge with Chicago’s Reliance Building (1895):

The reason Chicago became an architectural center was in part due to the 1873 fire that burnt many buildings in Chicago and allowed architects to innovate in the rebuilding process.

Also, you know those designs you see in every bank and skyscraper building? Like this one:

That, sir, is called Art Deco. An even more famous example of Art Deco inside and outside of a building is the Chrysler Building:

Richard Wright also lived in the same time period and everyone now loves him because of that house on the waterfall. Well, you know what? Richard Wright also designed this prison look-alike:

Oh, and this:

Ok, he was a genius, but come on, what is that thing?

To end on a positive note, Antoni Gaudí is awesome. Barcelona claims him as a Saint, but the Pope won’t recognize him as such until there are two miracles to his name. I propose these two:

One day, Antoni stepped back to look at a tower in the Sagrada Familia, and got hit by a tram, where authorities mistook him for a tramp.

Three days later, Barcelona came to a halt for his funeral procession.


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