OUTSIDE THE contribution of engineers like Freyssinet, France gave to the developing practice of a new architecture before 1914, only the work of two members of the academic succession to Guadet: both Auguste Perret ( 1874-1954) and Tony Garnier ( 1869-1948) had been his pupils and imbibed both the progressive and the negative aspects of his teaching. Both also owe something to Choisy, but the debt is slighter in the case of Garnier, whose career was academically respectable, much greater in the case of Perret, who did not stay the course.
But whatever the debt to Choisy, the prime one in their mode of designing buildings--composing, that is--is to Guadet, whose course they heard, whose influence they underwent in the Nineties, when he was in his prime as a professor. Garnier bore off the Rome Prize in 1899 (two years after Perret had left) with a design that is still cited (by Ferran)1 as a model of composition and, indeed, represents the Beaux-Arts ideal at its most abstract and most elegant. It is a design for the central office of a State Banking House, with its main work-spaces distributed peripherally around an enormous covered court in the centre of which, but occupying barely a tenth of its area, is the main banking room. The scale is grandiose, the space given to monumental circulation, entrance facilities, etc. is utterly disproportionate--yet this scheme was preferred by the Prize jury to others with far more efficient circulations, far greater functional sense. One can understand how a generation rendered suspicious of the arbitrary by Choisy's teaching would be in revolt against such design principles as these, and against the juries that enforced them.
But to suppose that Garnier made his design with his tongue in his cheek, as was apparently supposed by students in Paris after 1918,2 jealous of his reputation as a father of Modern architecture, seems not to be borne out by the evidence. Had he done so, it is unlikely that so astute an academic critic as Ferran would be taken in by his design fifty years later, and the____________________