Contemporary Architecture


The Legend

  • One of the New York’s most famous Buildings
  • This Landmark building has moved and generated Utmost public opinion and interest.
  • The first building to become a romantic symbol of New York.
  • Buildings tend to achieve temporary Monumentalism.

Quick facts


  • Street 175 5th Avenue and Broadway
  • Postcode 10010
  • Zone Ladies Mile
  • Neighborhood Flatiron
  • Borough Manhattan
  • City New York City
  • Country U.S.A.


  • Height 87 m 285 ft
  • Floors (OG) 21
  • Year (end) 1902

Daniel Hudson Burnham, (1846-1912)

  • Born in Henderson, New York
  •  He established (1873) a partnership with John W. Root
Famous Works:
  • Monadnock Building
  • Masonic Temple
  • Reliance Building
  • Rookery” offices
  • Wanamaker store in New York
  • World,s Columbian Exposition

Unique features of Flatiron Building?

  • Landmark.
  • Type of Construction.
  • The first kind of qualified Skyscraper.
  • Its unique shape.
  • Kind of Architecture.
  • Public Opinion and its role.


On the Left is Broadway and on the right is the 5th Avenue

What it takes to be a landmark

  • Location.
  • Public Interest.
  • Uniqueness and quality of Architecture.
  • The image generated by a building

Type of Construction:

  • Structural steel works — 3,680 tons of it
  • Steel Column and clear office floor space type construction
  • Bent steel frames used for the first time for support


  • distinctive shape adopted by Burnham
  • The wind tunnel effect
  • The site itself was triangular. A need based design by Burnham.

Type of Architecture

  • Style: beaux arts
  • Burnham Baroque: This style was developed by Burnham and used this in Reliance building which he built after the death of Root.
Beaux Arts
  • Nested Motifs-close up view
  • Front corner-close up view
  • Named after the Êcole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, this style is a subset of neo-classicism with several refinements
Features of Beaux arts:
  • tall parapets
  • paired columns
  • balustrades
  • domes, projecting façades, and pavilions.
  • The rich decoration may include garlands, wreaths, cartouches, and human statuary.
  • nested forms

Imitation of  Greek

  • The Flatiron building, carries distinctive mark of Burnham’s style of using Greco-Roman motifs, that he so volubly practiced after Root’s Death

23 Skidoo

  • Wind tunnel effect causing skirts of ladies to blow over their ankles

What made Flatiron an icon and a monument of its time?

  • Interestingly the form was feminine and very graceful, capturing mind of artists, photographers, painters,writers and film directors.
  • Romantic symbol of the time

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Contemporary Architecture

Civil Engineering and Architecture

Engineering and Science:

Engineering (Technology) is:
  • the invention of things that did not previously exist
  • creation of specific objects
Science is:
  • the discovery of things that have long existed
  • creation of general theories that unify knowledge
To what extent does technological innovation flow from scientific discovery?
Designers of Three Dimensional Public Spaces
  • Architects
  • Structural Engineers
  • Sculptors
3 Measures of Design Performance:
  • Scientific Dimension.
  • Use of Minimal Natural Resources.
  • Form Controls the Forces.
  • Form Changes the Actions & Reactions.
  • Social Dimension.
  • Use of Minimal Public Resources.
  • Must Consider Material Costs & Constructibility.
  • Dependant upon Time & Place.
  • •Quantities are measurable but….labor & bidding process are not.
  • Symbolic Dimension.
  • Aesthetic Motivation of the Designer.
  • Aesthetic ideas can be traced back to the earliest forms of architecture.
  • Theories on the importance of structural expression and construction techniques.

Architect – the beginnings:

  • The architect of a structure was also supposed to be the engineer, combining knowledge of geometry and materials with artistic expression.
  • In medieval times this remained true, with the concept of the architect as the “master builder”.
  • Even in the Renaissance, the ideals of Science and Beauty went hand in hand and engineering was considered to be a part of art.

Architect – the master builder:

  • Imhotep
  • Ictinus & Callicrates
  • Vitruvius
  • Michelangelo
  • Da Vinci
  • Filippo Brunelleschi
  • Bernini
  • Palladio

Changes during the 19th century

  • Before 19th century, structural forces understood only in empirical terms (observation and experiment)
  • Late 18th century – exact knowledge began to replace guesswork
  • Late 19th century – science of statics – architecturally viable
  • Structural calculations intrinsic to the employment of iron skeletal construction

The Industrial Revolution

  • New methods of structural design created and put into practice by members of a new profession – civil engineers who were previously military engineers
  • Structural expertise removed from the domain of architects
  • Mid and late 19th century – spectacular advances made by civil engineers
Schism – the split:
  • Pre-schism architect was the “Master Builder”
  • Separation between architect, engineer and constructor

What lead to the schism:

Industrial Revolution introduced new materials, methods and aspirations
Specialized schools were established
  • Ecole de Beaux Arts & Ecole de Polytechnique
  • ETH, Zurich
Architectural curricula focused on:
  • visual methods
  • product
Engineering curricula focused on:
  • numeric methods
  • process

Civil Engineers – their contributions

  • John Augustus Roebling
  • Alexandre Gustave Eiffel
  • Pier Luigi Nervi
  • Robert Malliart

John Augustus Roebling (1806 – 1869):

  • Born in Prussia, he emigrated to the United States in 1831.
  • He graduated with a degree in civil engineering from the Royal Polytechnic Institute of Berlin in 1826.
  • In 1841, he invented the twisted wire-rope cable, an invention which foreshadowed the use of wire cable supports for the decks of suspension bridges.
  • As the cable could support long spans and extremely heavy loads, he quickly gained a reputation as a quality bridge engineer.
  • Roebling utilized steel cables in the construction of numerous suspension bridges and is generally considered one of the pioneers in the field of suspension-bridge construction.

Roebling’s Projects:

  • The Brooklyn Bridge, New York, 1869 – 1883.
  • The Niagara Rail Bridge, 1841 – 1855 .
  • The Cincinnati – Covington Bridge, 1856 – 1867.

The Brooklyn Bridge, New York, 1869 -1883:

  • Overall width: 85 feet
  • Total length: 5,989 feet
  • Length of approach: 971 feet (Brooklyn approach) & 1,562 feet, 6 inches (Manhattan approach)
  • Length of main span: 1,595 feet, 6 inches
  • Number of supporting cables: 4
  • Diameter of  each cable: 15 ½ inches
  • Ultimate strength of a cable: 11,200 tons
  • Weight of each cable: 3,272 tons

Alexandre Gustave Eiffel (1832 – 1923)

  • He was born in Dijon France in 1832.
  • Later, he graduated from the Ecole Centrale des Arts et Manufactures, Paris in 1855 and joined a Belgian firm which specialized in railway equipment.
  • He established an independent practice in 1864 after which he established a career as an engineer-contractor.
  • Eiffel was a master of elegantly constructed wrought-iron lattices.
  • The structures that Eiffel designed had great social, economical, and political impact on the world. These structures include the Eiffel Tower, the Panama Canal, and the Statue of Liberty.

Eiffel’s Projects:

  • The Statue of  Liberty, 1884.
  • The Eiffel Tower, Paris, 1889.
  • The Panama Canal, 1904 – 1914 .

The Eiffel Tower, Paris, 1889:

  • It was built for the Paris World’s Fair of 1889.
  • This metal skeletal structure of 15,000 metal parts has both rectilinear and curvilinear ornamentation in iron.
  • Eiffel designed it as a cross-braced latticed girder with minimum wind resistance.
  • Constructed from over 6300 metric tons of highest quality wrought iron, it is a masterpiece of wrought-iron technology.

 The Panama Canal, 1904 – 1914:

  • Panama Canal, canal across the Isthmus of Panama, in Central America, that allows vessels to travel between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.
  • The waterway measures 64 km, including dredged approach channels at each end.
  • The canal’s 12 locks (3 sets of double locks at each end) have the same dimensions: 33.5 m (110 ft) wide by 305 m (1,000 ft) long.
  • The gates at each end are 2.1 m (7 ft) thick.

Pier Luigi Nervi (1891 – 1979)

  • He was born June 21, 1891, in the Italian Alps town of Sondrio, Italy.
  • Nervi studied in the Civic Engineering School at the University of Bologna and joined the army engineering corps following the entanglement of Italy in World War I.
  • After the war was over, he joined a group called “The Society for Concrete Construction” and later established his own firm in 1920.
  • It was not until after Nervi left the group in 1923 that his unique approach to building garnered critical attention.

A builder and designer of new forms

  • “..searching for solutions that were intrinsically and when constructed the most economic.”
  • Primarily an engineer and technician, not an architect
  • Strove primarily for “strength through form.”
  • Maintained that the strong aesthetic appeal of his buildings was simply a by-product of their structural correctness.
  • The ceiling are the most awe inspiring part of his structures, described in words like “sunburst” and “lacework” (or the more technical cantilevered roof trusses and lamella vault)
  • He combined technical expertise, intuition, pragmatism, and a material of his own invention- “ferro-cemento”- to achieve structural beauty in a tradition of Italian design.

Nervi’s Projects:


  •  Air Force Hangar I, 1936.
  • Salone Agnelli B, Turin, 1949.


  • Palazzetto dello Sport, Rome, 1959

 Palazzetto dello Sport, Rome, 1959:

  • The innovative dome is made of ribbed reinforced concrete.
  • Continuous windows circle around the arena under the dome.

Robert Maillart (1872 – 1940)

  • Robert Maillart, a Swiss engineer, was renowned for his inventive and beautiful reinforced-concrete bridges.
  • Maillart’s basic structural principles—integration of the supporting arch, the stiffening wall, and the traffic platform into one cohesive unit—were applied as early as 1901 in a bridge at Zuoz, Switzerland.
  • Robert Maillart had an intuition and genius that could entirely exploit the aesthetic of concrete.
  • He designed three-hinged arches in which the deck and the arch ribs were combined to produce closely integrated structures that evolved into stiffened arches of very thin reinforced concrete and concrete slabs.
  • These designs went beyond the common boundaries of concrete design in Maillart’s time.

  • Scientific Analysis
  • Visual Analysis
  • Empirical Analysis
Role of the Architect Today:
Owens Corning HQ, Toledo, Ohio.
  • CM & CBP team
  • exterior architect
  • interior architect
  • production drawing architect
  • curtain wall architect
  • engineering disciplines
  • construction manager

Role of the Engineer Today

  • technician vs. innovator
  • synthesis of scientific & empirical knowledge
Relationship – Engineering & Architecture

  • Pre-schism
  • Collaboration
  • Synthesis
  • a close working relationship between individuals from different backgrounds
  • mutual respect
  • common vocabulary

  • Can there be a modern day “master builder”?
    Nervi, Candela, Wright, Rogers, Calatrava
  • Can we transfer technologies and solutions from other disciplines?
    NASA – composites, ceramics, polymers
  • Can the synthetic process be a redefinition of the problem? 

    Traditional process

  • client, architect, builder
  • design – bid – buildOwens Corning Process
  • CM hires specialized disciplines
Synthetic process – a skillful coordination

  • Specialists and manufacturers are taking a bigger role in the process
  • Maki, Fujisawa, Gymnasium Roof
  • Foster, Hong Kong Shanghai Bank

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Contemporary Architecture

Skyscrapers in New York contemporary to The Chicago School

The Park Row Building, Robert H. Robertson, 1896-1899:

  • The main facade, clad in limestone, has its center part recessed, more prominently at the top six floors of the mass, and horizontally divided as the rows of pilasters between windows terminate at ornamental ledges at intervals.
  • The building is topped by twin 4-storey turrets, originally functioning as observatories and office space, whose domes are topped further by smaller, copper-clad lanterns with caryatids

Flatiron Building, Daniel Burnham, 1902:

  • A commercial office towers with a steel frame structure.
  • Radical use of a triangular plan form in a high rise building for the first time.
  • Façade was decorated with a series of arched openings.
  • The building is Italian Renaissance style and features tripartite construction.
  • Tripartite buildings are based on a Greek column with three distinct portions that resemble the base, shaft and capital.
  • The top capital portion features arches that are topped by an ornate cornice.
  • The middle portion is shaft-like.
  • The wide windows and limestone characterize the base portion.

The Municipal Building, McKim, Mead & White , 1909-1915:

  • The building was influenced by the fashionable “City Beautiful” movement of the 1890s which promoted plans for creating public buildings in landscaped parks.
  • The mid-part of the 25-storey tripartite facade is a U-shaped mass of austere light-toned granite over a high colonnade that forms the building’s base and separates a front yard from the sidewalk.
  • The top portion of the building features a colonnade of Corinthian columns and pilasters.
  • The 16-storey top, above the middle section of the building, consists of a set-back tiered lantern on top of a square base, flanked by four smaller pinnacle turrets.
  • At the height of 177 m stands the 6 m high statue Civic Fame by Adolph A. Weinman, New York City’s second largest statue after the Statue of Liberty.

Woolworth Building, Cass Gilbert, 1910 – 1913:

  • A 60 storey tower capped with an elaborately ornamented set-back Gothic top.
  • Rising from a 27-storey base, with limestone and granite lower floors, the tower is clad in white terra-cotta with the spire rising to the height of 241.5 m.
  • It was to be the tallest building in the world for 17 years.

The Equitable Building, Ernest R. Graham & Associates, 1912-1915 .

  • Built for Equitable Life Insurance, the building is forty-one stories high with no setbacks.
  • The Equitable Building is most important for the zoning law that resulted from its construction.
  • After this building was completed, the public complained about the little amount of light that reached the street, causing the city to feel dark and gloomy.
  • ~These complaints caused the passage of the city’s first zoning ordinance in 1916 that required buildings to be step-backed.

Chrysler Building, William Van Allen, 1928 to 1930:

  • One of the first uses of stainless steel over a   large exposed building surface.
  • Automobile-derived ornamental details.
  • Stainless steel metal ornamented top.

McGraw Hill Building, Raymond Hood, 1930:

  • Construction system used is terra cotta and glass cladding over steel frame.
  • Unusual and attractive use of substantial color on the exterior of a significant skyscraper.

Empire State Building by Shreve, Lamb, Harmon, 1931:

  • A building of 102 floors which is 381 meters high.
  • Effective use of setbacks to emphasize tower.
  • The mooring tower with modern encrustations.
  • Well placed lighting has been used to visually enhance the building after sunset.

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Contemporary Architecture



  • Born in Charlotte, North Carolina in 1938
  • Studied at the University of Pennsylvania School of Architecture under Louis I. Kahn, Robert Venturi, and Thomas Vreeland
  • Graduated from Yale with a Masters in architecture in 1962 where he studied under Paul Rudolph and James Stirling
  • Begun a partnership with Robert Seigel in 1971


  • Grafts American vernacular with the International Style
  • Combines nineteenth century brickwork, American wood construction with the Modernist’s passion for industrial buildings to create sleek, unarticulated surfaces
  • Exaggerated super scale and sense of infinite space
  • Spatial variety , emphasizing verticality
  • Functionally appropriate and recognizing activity patterns

PRINCETON UNIVERSITY, Whig Hall, Princeton (1975)

  • Won the 1973 Design Award for Progressive Architecture


  • American Museum of the Moving Image is both an archive-repository and a learning center for movie and video history where exhibits are designed to encourage hands-on exploration
  • “The final outcome is a Museum which has received worldwide recognition for its aesthetic distinction and is, at the same time, a place where I and my colleagues are able to function professionally in an environment which is not only pleasing but appropriate to the activities which we must perform.” – Rochelle Slovin, Director

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Contemporary Architecture



  • Born in Aachen, Germany on 27 Mar. 1886
  • Trained with his father, a master stonemason
  • Worked in the family stone-carving business
  • At 19, he moved to Berlin before he joined the office of Bruno Paul in Berlin (the art nouveau architect and furniture designer)
  • At 20 he received his first independent commission,
    to plan a house for a philosopher (Alois Riehl)
  • Entered the studio of Peter beherns in 1908 and remained until 1912
  • Opened his own office in Berlin in 1912 and married in 1913


  • Dutch Architecture
    • 17th century interiors – crystal clear with precisely framed walls and openings
    • Had an inner affinity with Mies’s balancing of plane surfaces
  • Father’s Workshop
    • Correct placing of brick upon brick and stone upon stone
    • These early experiences probably the reason for his fanaticism with pure form and great care in the use of building materials
    • 1909 – Turbinen Fabrik – showed the strength of expression possessed by iron and glass
    • Could be brought out by an artist/architect who understood their possibilities
    • Also learnt careful handling of new materials, particularly in his later works
    • Free ground plan
  • Expressionist Movement
    • Art Nouveau – Gaudi’s expressionism – biomorphic and osteomorphic fantasy
    • German movement – mysticism; emotional extremes in art
    • W.W. I – economic deprivation – 1918-21 + following years
    • Almost nothing built – a world of imagination and fantasy
    • Crystalline, prismatic forms
    • Mies – 1919-21 – glass walled skyscrapers
    • Prismatic, star shaped massing to reflect light like a crystal
    • Foreshadowed his glass walled skyscrapers
  • Peter Behrens
    • 1909 – Turbinen Fabrik – showed the strength of expression possessed by iron and glass
    • Could be brought out by an artist/architect who understood their possibilities
    • Also learnt careful handling of new materials, particularly in his later works
  • F.L. Wright
    • Free ground plan


  • Studied the architecture of the  Prussian Karl Friedrich Schinkel and Frank Lloyd Wright
  • After world war I – began studying the skyscraper
  • Designed two innovative steel-framed towers
    encased in glass
  • One of them – Friedrichstrasse skyscraper, designed in 1921 for a competition
  • Never built, although it drew critical praise and foreshadowed his skyscraper designs of the late 40s and 50s


  • Less is more
  • I don’t want to be interesting. I want to be good
  • Technology’s essence is the main field of architecture


General features:

  • No function other than to look worthy of the country it represents
  • Honey coloured golden onyx, green Tinian marble and frosted glass were the basic materials used
  • Had a sculpture named the German flag
  • Starting of the modern movement


General features:

  • The house is situated in the midst of meadows and trees on a large natural plot.
  • Principle of minimalism
  • Floods and insects were main problems tackled
  • A vacation residence for a doctor
  • One enters the home by climbing a low, broad set of stairs to a sparse deck, then another, similar set of stairs to the outdoor porch

CASE STUDY THREE: Seagram Building, New York, 1954-58:

General features:

  • The Seagram Building is a skyscraper in New York City
  • In collaboration with the American Philip Johnson
  • It is 516 feet tall with 38 stories
  • It stands as one of the finest examples of the functionalist aesthetic and a masterpiece of corporate modernism

“I remember seeing many old buildings in my hometown when I was young. Few of them were important buildings. They were mostly very simple, but very clear. I was impressed by the strength of these buildings because they did not belong to any epoch. They had been built there for over a thousand years and were still impressive and nothing could change that. All great styles passed, but…they were still as good as on the day they were built.”           – Mies Van Der Rohe.


General details:

  • S. R. Crown Hall is generally considered to be one of Mies’ greatest works
  • Mies considered Crown the clearest statement of his philosophy of a universal space building.
  • Crown is home to IIT’s College of Architecture; inside the building, free-standing partitions suggest spaces for studios and exhibition.
  • the building houses the architecture school
  • The wings to the east and west. It is a Upper Core is organized about an axis that runs north/south, with no Permanent partitions or formal separation of spaces. The building itself is organized on two floors, with the main floor raised about 6 feet above grade to allow natural light and ventilation into the lower level through clerestory windows.
  • creating symmetrical  single open hall
  • oak-wood partitions
  • Built of hollow clay tile, the chases are finished in plaster painted white.
  • Circulation consists of a hallway that is U-shaped in plan


  • His love for simplicity
  • Trying out innovative materials
  • Structural details
  • Spending lot of time on design
  • Glass and steel
  • Furniture details(layouts)

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