Modernist Challenges After World War II

Modernism after World War II, a lecture class, answers the question of what happened to modernism after its initial synthesis and codification in the late 1920s. Picking up the story of modernist architectural culture after the international catastrophe of a world war, we will explore the major developments in modernist architecture and architectural theory from 1945 to the 1990s. The course is not, however, a chronologically organized survey of all the architectural trends of this period that in some way incorporate modernist ideas. Rather, we will focus on critical moments in the development of postwar modernism by studying the work and ideas of selected key figures. The course is organized into three parts. The first part, approximately one month in length, will focus on the postwar work and ideas of the founders and theorists of modernism, such as Mies and Le Corbusier, as well as on related work by younger figures such as Oscar Niemeyer. The second part, also approximately one month in length, will focus in detail on the work and ideas of Team Ten (Alison and Peter Smithson; Candilis, Josic & Woods; Aldo van Eyck, Louis Kahn) and related figures such as Jxrn Utzon and Sigurd Lewerentz. In the final classes we will look at postwar technological critiques of early modernist ideas in the theoretical work of the French Situationists, the Archigram Group, and the contemporary practice of Rem Koolhaas.