New Architecture and City Planning: A Symposium

By Paul Zucker | Go to book overview

NEW MATERIALS, NEW CONSTRUCTION METHODS, NEW HOUSE ARCHITECTURE

By THOMAS S. HOLDEN

Good architectural design is always a triumph of mind over matter. In earlier ages the great problem was to get a wide variety of architectural results by using a very limited range of available materials and structural methods. Yet masterpieces were created of stone, brick, wood, and small bits of colored glass, utilizing such slowly evolving structural systems as the lintel, the arch, the dome, the vault, the buttress and the wooden truss.

In modern times structural steel, reinforced concrete, the safety elevator, and large panes of glass have provided for architectural design an economy of plenty after long ages of scarcity, a new freedom that has been exploited with varying success in numerous types of contemporary buildings. Inventions of equal importance, metal pipe and copper wire, ushered in the era of labor-saving devices, comfort and light.

It would appear that the success with which this new freedom has been expressed, in new architectural forms worthy of comparison with masterpieces of the past, has thus far depended upon the extent to which new buildings have been called upon to house new activities and new functions. Certainly, one can point to numerous examples of masterly, untrammeled, untraditional designs of hospitals, office buildings, airplane factories, apartment houses and

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