Architecture in America: A Battle of Styles

Architecture in America: A Battle of Styles

Architecture in America: A Battle of Styles

Architecture in America: A Battle of Styles

Excerpt

Architecture is the most available and public of the arts. It surrounds us in our daily lives, houses the complex and varied functions of our civilization, and provides a setting for the other arts. It at once demonstrates and symbolizes the extent to which man can come to terms with and arrange his natural environment. We all respond to it at least on the simplest level, if not necessarily with conscious awareness. We all have on occasion found ourselves awed and exalted by its monumental forms and arrangements, reverent before its sacred or venerable works, delighted by its moments of festive gaiety, arrested by its novelty, or soothed by its comfort and restful charm. Conversely, we have all felt oppressed by the absence of its rule in a crowded, dingy slum or in the endless monotony of a jerry-built suburb.

The intention of this book is to bring these reactions more fully to the level of conscious and useful understanding by providing materials for thought about architecture, in order that we may make critically informed judgments about its aims and achievements. This task is particularly necessary today, not only because ours is a century that has witnessed deep conflicts about architecture--many inherited from the previous century--but also because our age has produced a varied literature of architectural theory and criticism. Because that literature gives frequent evidence of intellectual confusion, the way to sound understanding is especially perilous. But our dangers only serve to underscore more emphatically our urgent needs.

The subtitle of this anthology reads "A Battle of Styles." At this point, we might well ask ourselves what is meant by the word "style" if we are to understand the nature of the battle. The term means a definite type or manner of architecture, characterized by distinctive patterns of structure or ornamentation, a special form of skilled construction and execution. Different historical epochs have had different styles, and the historian, in order to help us identify them, has given them names such as the . . .

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