Famous Master Architects(Hugo) Alvar Henrik Aalto - Father of Modern Scandinavian Architecture
born February 3, 1898 - died May 11, 1976
Place of Birth: Kuortane, Finland
Education: Graduated with honors in architecture from Helsinki University of Technology
Alvar Aalto received international acclaim early in his career with the completion of the Paimio Tuberculosis Sanatorium. It proved his dominance of the International style and, more importantly, emphasized his attention to the human side of design. The patient's rooms, with their specially designed heating, lighting and furniture, including the Paimio chair that assisted patient breathing, are models of integrated environmental design.
His talent was not limited to architecture and town planning but included furniture and glassware design. With his first wife, Aino Mariso, he founded Artek, a company which continues to market innovative furnishings.
His passion for painting and meeting Pablo Picasso directly led to the development of his unique architectural style. The influence of the collage technique, invented by Picasso and Georges Braque, became a dominant element in all of his work after Paimio. He collaged the site’s individuality and the texture and color of materials with light to create architectural landscapes in his projects.
The finest example of this style is Villa Mairea. The exterior juxtaposed diverse materials and design elements such as sleek columns, rough stone, grass roofs, stripped logs and teak into an architectural collage. The interior was even more radical and totally modernized Nordic Classicism. Aalto's abstraction of a Finnish forest combined texture and natural materials to surround the visitor with trees. The spaces of the free plan opened and closed within his forest, creating an array of varied places that echoed the landscape and culture of the building's homeland.
The Alvar Aalto Museum, a special museum of architecture, was founded in 1966. It is housed in a building designed by Aalto and completed in 1973. The museum has also been in charge of the Muuratsalo Experimental House since 1994.
The museum, which functions as an Aalto information centre, organizes exhibitions in Finland and abroad, and produces publications connected with Alvar Aalto. There is a wide-ranging permanent exhibition of Aalto's work on show in the museum. The new permanent exhibition on Alvar Aalto was opened at the beginning of 1998, the centenary of Aalto's birth.
One of the museum's most important tasks is the preservation of Alvar Aalto's buildings. It maintains a nation-wide register of protected buildings and provides expert assistance on matters concerning Aalto's buildings, working in close cooperation with the National Board of Antiquities.
photo: M. Kapanen © Alvar Aalto Museum
Le Corbusier - Leader of the International Style
born October 6, 1887 - died August 27, 1965
Place of Birth: La Chaux de Fonds, Switzerland
Education: Art education, La Chaux de Fonds; studied modern building construction with Auguste Perret, Paris
Le Corbusier (born Charles-Edouard Jeanneret-Gris) was a Swiss-French architect, painter and writer (co-founder, with Amédée Ozenfant, of L'Esprit Nouveau; Vers une architecture [Towards a new Architecture, 1927]; La Maison des hommes [The Home of Man, 1942]; and Quand les cathédrales étaient blanches [When the Cathedrals Were White, 1947]). After studying with Auguste Perret and working with German architect Josef Hoffmann, he set up a partnership in 1922 with his cousin and engineer Pierre Jeanneret and adopted his mother's maiden name professionally.
The culmination of his early writing developed into his architecture theory of the ideal house as a "machine for living." He developed the Maison-Domino during this early period, which was a building prototype for mass production with free-standing pillars and rigid floors.
His Unité d'Habitation (1946-1952) were massive, building block dwellings. The brutality of their structure was only slighted relieved by sculptural roof-lines and brightly colored walls. It was a style that he would revisit when he was part of an international team designing the city of Chandigarh, India.
His most famous buildings, Palace for the League of Nations (1927-1928), Swiss Building at the Cité Universitaire (1931-1932) and the Secretariat at the United Nations Headquarters (1952), are all examples of the development of the International Style which became the dominant style of the 20th century. This style arose from the work of Walter Gropius, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Le Corbusier who wanted to build simple, unadorned buildings which served the needs of their users. The style was geometric and asymmetrical and featured the use of modern materials such as glass, concrete and steel. Functional, logical floor plans and simple, unornamented walls of glass or concrete were emphasized.
Antoni Plàcid Guillem Gaudí Cornet
born June 25, 1852 - died June 12, 1926
Place of Birth: Somewhere in Catalonia, possibly Baix Camp, Tarragona, Spain
Education: Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura, Barcelona
Leading the Spanish Modernist movement, Antoni Gaudí has been classified with Gothicism (sometimes called warped Gothicism) and Surrealism, but in reality there is no word except Gaudí-ism. He combined all of the above and was also influenced by Oriental styles, nature, sculpture, and a desire to go beyond anything that had ever been done before. Most of Gaudí's buildings are in Barcelona and reflect his strong Catalan nationalism.
Stricken with a rheumatic problem that made walking painful, young Antoni Gaudí often missed school and had little interaction with other children, but had ample time to study nature. While seeking his degree in architecture in Barcelona, Gaudí also studied philosophy, history, and economics. He believed that differences in architecture were caused by society and politics, rather than aesthetics.
Gaudí was granted the title of Architect and presented his first major project, the Mataró Cooperative (a housing project for factory workers), at the Paris World Fair in 1878. Far ahead of his time, only a small portion of the project was actually built, but Gaudí's name became known and he met Eusebi Güell, who would become a very close friend as well as a patron. This meeting was extremely fortuitous: Güell trusted his friend's genius completely and never limited or tried to change the architect's vision during his many projects.
In 1882, Gaudí began work on his greatest project, the Sagrada Familia church, taking over from Francisco de Paula del Villar. For nearly 30 years, Gaudí worked on Sagrada Familia and other projects simultaneously, until 1911, when he decided to devote himself exclusively to the church. During the last year of his life, Gaudí lived in his studio at Sagrada Familia.
Tragically, in June, 1926, Gaudí was run over by a tram. Because he was poorly dressed, he was not recognized and taxi drivers refused to take a "vagabond" to the hospital (they were later fined by the police). Gaudí died five days later, and was buried in the crypt of the building to which he had devoted 44 years of his life, the as-yet unfinished Sagrada Familia.
During Gaudí's lifetime, official organizations rarely recognized his talent. The City of Barcelona often tried (unsuccessfully) to stop or limit Gaudí's work because it exceeded city regulations, and the only project the City ever assigned him was that of designing streetlights. He received the Building of the Year award for his least impressive building, Casa Calvet.
Interests and Influences
• Religion - the basis of Gaudí's inspiration, particularly in later years
• Catalan nationalism
• Oriental structures
• Nature - e.g., plants and natural shapes like waves
• Eugène Viollet-le-Duc - medieval French architecture
• John Ruskin - "Ornament is the origin of architecture"
• William Morris
El Templo de la Sagrada Família
The spires of El Templo Expiatorio de la Sagrada Família (Church of the Sacred Family), each more than 100 m (more than 328 ft) tall, dominate the skyline of Barcelona, Spain. In 1891, nine years after construction started on the neo-Gothic cathedral, Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí y Cornet took over as official architect and made the project a personal obsession. When Gaudí died in a trolley accident in 1926, the cathedral was left unfinished. Despite controversy over whether the cathedral should remain in its uncompleted form as a monument to the architect, construction began again in 1979, closely following Gaudí’s original plan.
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Walter Adolph Gropius - Founder of the Bauhaus
born May 18, 1883 - died July 5, 1969
Place of Birth: Berlin, Germany
Education: Technical Universities in Münich and Berlin
Walter Gropius was a German architect and art educator who founded the Bauhaus, which became a dominant force in architecture and the applied arts in the 20th century. His main theory was that all design should be functional as well as aesthetically-pleasing.
The Bauhaus school of design attracted artists in many disciplines, including painters Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky, graphic artist Käthe Kollwitz and expressionist art groups such as Die Brücke and Der Blaue Reiter. The school pioneered a functional, severely simple architectural style, featuring the elimination of surface decoration and extensive use of glass. Gropius resigned as the school's director in 1928 to return to private practice. Ludwig Mies van der Rohe followed as the next director.
Although Gropius is best known for the Bauhaus style, his architectural reputation was first established when, working with Adolph Meyer, he designed the Fagus Works (1910-1911) and the office building for the Werkbund exhibition in Cologne (1914).
Walter Gropius opposed the Nazi regime and left Germany secretly in 1934. After several years in England, Gropius began teaching architecture at Harvard University. As a Harvard professor, Gropius introduced Bauhaus concepts and design principles - teamwork standardization, and prefabrication - to a generation of American architects.
Between 1938 to 1941, Gropius worked on several houses with Marcel Breuer. They formed the Architects Collaborative in 1945. Among their commissions were the Harvard Graduate Center (1946), the U.S. Embassy in Athens and the University of Baghdad. One of Gropius's later designs, in collaboration with Pietro Belluschi, was the Pam Am Building (now the Metropolitan Life Building) in New York City.
1870 - 1933
Born in Czechoslovakia,
Practiced in Austria
Adolf Loos was an architect who became more famous for his ideas than for his buildings. He believed that reason should determine the way we build, and he opposed the decorative Art Nouveau movement. In Ornament & Crime and other essays, Loos described the suppression of decoration as necessary for regulating passion.
Adolf Loos was born to a stonemason in Czechoslovakia, but -- to his mother's grief -- he refused to continue the family business. Instead, he studied architecture in Dresden and then went to the United States, where he worked as a mason, a floor-layer, and a dishwasher. Loos was impressed by the efficiency of American architecture, and he admired the work of Louis Sullivan.
Eventually Loos found work with the architect Carl Mayreder, and in 1898 he opened his own practice in Vienna. He earned little money, but he lived comfortably because his customers often paid their fee with goods. He also started his own school of architecture, and taught the Raumplan idea of simple, functional building. Two of his students, Richard Neutra and R. M. Schindler, went on to great careers in the United States.
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe - Modern Architect
born March 27 1886 - died August 17 1969
Place of Birth: Aachen, Germany
Education: Worked in the office of Bruno Paul in Berlin; spent four years in the studio of Peter Behrens
Awards: AIA Gold Metal, 1960
The United States has a love-hate relationship with Mies van der Rohe. Some say that he stripped architecture of all humanity, creating cold, sterile and unlivable environments. Others praise his work, saying he created architecture in its most pure form.
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe began his career in his family stone-carving business in Germany. He never received any formal architectural training, but when he was a teenager he worked as a draftsman for several architects. Moving to Berlin, he found work in the offices of architect and furniture designer Bruno Paul and industrial architect Peter Behrens. In 1912, Mies van der Rohe opened his own practice in Berlin and he adopted his mother's maiden name, van der Rohe.
Early in his life, Mies van der Rohe began experimenting with steel frames and glass walls. He was director of the Bauhaus School of Design from 1930 until it disbanded in 1933. He moved to the United States in 1937 and for twenty years (1938-1958) he was Director of Architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology.
Mies van der Rohe taught his taught students at IIT to build first with wood, then stone, and then brick before progressing to concrete and steel. He believed that architects must completely understand their materials before they can design.
Miesvan der Rohe was not the first architect to practice simplicity in design, but he carried the ideals of rationalism and minimalism to new levels. His glass-walled Farnsworth House near Chicago stirred controversy and legal battles. His bronze and glass Seagram Building in New York City (designed in collaboration with Philip Johnson) is considered America's first glass skyscraper. And, his philosophy that "less is more" became a guiding principle for architects in the mid-twentieth century.
Skyscrapers around the world are modeled after designs by Mies van der Rohe.
German American architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe was one of the leading architects of the 20th century. His sleek, unornamented glass-and-steel skyscrapers were especially influential. The 37-story bronze-and-glass Seagram Building (1958) in New York City, shown here, displays the simplicity and elegance that are characteristic of his style. The building was designed in collaboration with architect Philip Johnson.
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Ieoh Ming Pei - Pritzker Prize Laureate
Born: April 26, 1917 in Canton, China
• Massachusetts Institute of Technology B. Arch. 1940
• Harvard Graduate School of Design M. Arch. 1946
"I believe that architecture is a pragmatic art. To become art it must be built on a foundation of necessity." — I.M. Pei, from his acceptance speech for the 1983 Pritzker Architecture Award.
More About I. M. Pei:
In Chinese, Ieoh Ming means "to inscribe brightly." The name Pei's parents gave him proved prophetic. Over the past fifty years, Ieoh Ming Pei has designed more than fifty buildings around the world, ranging from industrial skyscrapers and important museums to low income housing.
Pei grew up in Shanghai, but in 1935 he moved to the United States to study architecture and engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and later at Harvard University. By 1948, he was Director of Architecture at the real estate development firm, Webb & Knapp. He founded his own firm in 1958.
I.M. Pei tends to use large, abstract forms and sharp, geometric designs. His glass clad structures seem to spring from the high tech modernist movement. However, Pei is more concerned with function than theory.
During his career, Pei and his firm have won numerous architecture awards. He won the prestigious Pritzker Prize in 1983.
Louis Henri Sullivan
Master Architect 1856 - 1924 American "Form ever follows function"
Louis Sullivan is widely considered America's first truly modern architect. Instead of imitating historic styles, he created original forms and details. Older architectural styles were designed for buildings that were wide, but Sullivan was able to create aesthetic unity in buildings that were tall.
Sullivan's designs often used masonry walls with terra cotta designs. Intertwining vines and leaves combined with crisp geometric shapes. This Sullivanesque style was imitated by other architects, and his later work formed the foundation for the ideas of his student, Frank Lloyd Wright.
The exterior of the new office building should reflect its interior structure, and interior functions as well. Ornament, where it was used, must be derived from Nature, rejecting classical references and the ubiquitous arches.
Frank Lloyd Wright - American Master
June 8, 1867 - April 9, 1958
Place of Birth: Richland Center, Wisconsin
Education: University of Wisconsin, engineering classes
Frank Lloyd Wright is without a doubt America's most famous architect, and yet he never attended architecture school. As a child, he worked on his uncle's farm in Wisconsin, and he later described himself as an American primitive -- an innocent but clever country boy whose education on the farm made him more perceptive and more down-to-earth.
When he was 15, Wright entered the University of Wisconsin as a special student. He studied engineering because the school had no course in architecture. Leaving school after a few semesters, he apprenticed with J.L. Silsbee and Louis Sullivan. After working with Sullivan for six years, Wright opened his own practice.
During his 70-year career, Wright designed 1,141 buildings, including homes, offices, churches, schools, libraries, bridges and museums. Five hundred and thirty-two of these designs were completed, and 409 still stand. Wright pioneered a long, low style known as the Prairie house. He experimented with obtuse angles and circles, creating unusually shaped structures such as the spiral Guggenheim Museum (1943-49). He developed a series of low-cost homes which he called Usonian. And most importantly, he changed the way we think of interior space.
Wright was married three times and had seven children. His work was controversial and his private life was often the subject of gossip. Although his work was praised in Europe as early as 1910, it was not until 1949 that he received an award from American Institute of Architects.