History Podcasts

Leaning About Architecture of the World - History

Leaning About Architecture of the World - History

If you are on this web site it means you have an appreciation of history. Part of history is the building and structures that have been built by people throughout the world.

From cruder structures to impressive monuments demonstrating mankind’s mastery of engineering and design, architecture spans across time and place. Depending on the time period, political alliances and available resources, architecture could be an artistic luxury or a practical necessity. Many countries have their own distint architecture and building styles.


Spain has a rich and tumultuous history, much like many European countries. Its architecture draws from a variety of influences thanks to its locations amongst its neighbors, as well as the different invading groups who brought with them their own style and techniques. In the late seventeenth century, Spain developed a unique version of Baroque which incorporated highly detailed and elaborate stucco decoration to its buildings, known as Churrigueresque.

In more recent centuries, Spain revived its sense of eclecticism within its architecture, drawing from multiple sources of inspirations and merging techniques from other artistic and architectural movements. One of the most famous Spanish architectural moments was brought about by Antoni Gaudi, whose buildings were uniquely designed and constructed with a warped sense of the Gothic.


The bulbous temple roofs of India are of Indo-Islamic influence. Many of India’s buildings are created with religion in mind, with delicate details and impressive symmetry. One of India’s most well-known buildings, the Taj Mahal, was constructed during the reign of Shah Jahan at the peak of what is known as Mughal architecture. Due to its burgeoning population, Indian temples and other extravagant buildings are bordered by slums and shanty-towns, where the architecture relies more on the few available resources that people can find and use.


The Netherlands, particularly its capital city Amsterdam, is cleverly constructed to accommodate an intricate series of canal networks. The architecture is often narrow and closely packed to make the most of the land between canals, although some buildings extend backwards or upwards to increase usable space. Being close to water means that many of the buildings will be either guarded against or prepared for flooding.


China is another country with centuries of historic wars, conquerors and dynasties. Each shift in political, religious and social spheres in turn had an impact on China’s architecture. Huge, ornately decorated temples with iconic roofs have become a symbol for the country worldwide. Nowadays, thanks again to the growing population, China has become a crowded and difficult place to live, leading to creative and unique methods of constructing practical architecture. Urban planning in China is based on Feng Shui and focuses on using space efficiently.

United Kingdom

Despite being a small island, the impact of the United Kingdom on the rest of the world throughout history is still reverberating across the globe to this day. Due to constant colonialism, the British Empire was both influenced by and influenced the architecture of the countries it visited. Ancient castles from the Middle Ages still litter the country, as well as tenements, townhouses and a plethora of architectural movements including Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian styles.

If you find that you love learning about different types of building styles and ways you might consider making it your carreer. You could decide to become an architict and go to one of the many great schools for architicts. Another direction to go is to study construction and become a construction manager. For that you can even receive a Master of Construction Management.. Or you can just travel the world and enjoy the very different architectures that exist.

Ancient Greece

The Ancient Greeks had a unique style of architecture that is still copied today in government buildings and major monuments throughout the world. Greek architecture is known for tall columns, intricate detail, symmetry, harmony, and balance. The Greeks built all sorts of buildings. The main examples of Greek architecture that survive today are the large temples that they built to their gods.

  • Doric - Doric columns were the most simple and the thickest of the Greek styles. They had no decoration at the base and a simple capital at the top. Doric columns tapered so they were wider on the bottom than at the top.
  • Ionic - Ionic columns were thinner than the Doric and had a base at the bottom. The capital at the top was decorated with scrolls on each side.
  • Corinthian - The most decorative of the three orders was the Corinthian. The capital was decorated with scrolls and the leaves of the acanthus plant. The Corinthian order became popular in the later era of Greece and also was heavily copied by the Romans.

Greek Orders by Pearson Scott Foremen

Greek temples were grand buildings with a fairly simple design. The outside was surrounded by a row of columns. Above the columns was a decorative panel of sculpture called the frieze. Above the frieze was a triangle shaped area with more sculptures called the pediment. Inside the temple was an inner chamber that housed the statue of the god or goddess of the temple.

The Parthenon
Source: Wikimedia Commons

The most famous temple of Ancient Greece is the Parthenon located on the Acropolis in the city of Athens. It was built for the goddess Athena. The Parthenon was built in the Doric style of architecture. It had 46 outer columns each 6 feet in diameter and 34 feet tall. The inner chamber contained a large gold and ivory statue of Athena.

Besides temples, the Greeks built numerous other types of public buildings and structures. They built large theaters that could hold over 10,000 people. The theaters were usually built into the side of a hill and were designed with acoustics that allowed even the back rows to hear the actors. They also built covered walkways called "stoas" where merchants would sell goods and people held public meetings. Other public buildings included the gymnasium, court house, council building, and sports stadium.

Project timeline Edit

  • September 2007 ( 2007-09 ) : Start.
  • November 2007 ( 2007-11 ) : Started drilling foundations.
  • April 2008 ( 2008-04 ) : Construction of core wall.
  • February 2009 ( 2009-02 ) : Facade erected.
  • May 2009 ( 2009-05 ) : Building reached a height of 100 meters (330 ft).
  • June 2009 ( 2009-06 ) : Incline started to take shape.
  • October 2009 ( 2009-10 ) : Building reached final height of 160 meters (520 ft).
  • December 2009 ( 2009-12 ) : Exterior core structure completed.
  • January 2010 ( 2010-01 ) : First phase of splash completed.
  • February 2010 ( 2010-02 ) : Interior construction started.
  • March 2010 ( 2010-03 ) : Started building the bridge to Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre.
  • April 2010 ( 2010-04 ) : Started building the atrium roof.
  • 2011 ( 2011 ) : Construction completed.
  • December 21, 2011 ( 2011-12-21 ) : Opening.

Foundation Edit

The structure rests on a foundation of 490 pilings that have been drilled 30 meters (98 ft) below ground. The deep pilings provide stability against strong winds, gravitational pull, and seismic pressures that arise due to the incline of the building. Of the 490 pilings, 287 are 1 meter (3 ft 3 in) in diameter and 20 to 30 meters (66 to 98 ft) deep, and 203 are 60 centimeters (24 in) in diameter and 20 meters (66 ft) deep. All 490 piles are capped together using a densely reinforced concrete mat footing nearly 2 meters (6.6 ft) deep. Some of the piles were only initially compressed during construction to support the lower floors of the building. Now they are in tension as additional stress caused by the overhang has been applied. [3]

Core of the structure Edit

The core of the Capital Gate was built using jumping formwork, also known as climbing formwork. The center concrete core had to be specially designed to account for the immense forces created by the building's angle of elevation, or camber. The core contains 15,000 cubic meters (20,000 cu yd) of concrete reinforced with 10,000 metric tons of steel and uses vertical post-tension and was constructed with a vertical pre-camber. This pre-camber means the core was constructed with a slight opposite lean. As each floor was installed, the weight of the floors and diagonal grid, or diagrid, system pulled the core and slowly straightened it out. The core contains 146 vertical steel tendons, each 20 meters (66 ft) long, which are used for post-tension. [3]

Superstructure Edit

Given the 18° lean of the building, the construction required two diagrid systems: an external diagrid defining the tower's shape and an internal diagrid linked to the central core by eight unique, pin-jointed structural members. The external diagrid comprises 720 sections of varying shapes, as it is based on the direction in which the tower leans. The external grid carries the weight of the floor while the internal diagrid connects with the external and transfers the load to the core, thereby eliminating the need for columns in the floor. [3]

In June 2010, Guinness World Records recognized Capital Gate tower as the world's "farthest manmade leaning building". [4] The new record shows that the Capital Gate tower has been built to lean 18° west, which is more than four times that of the Leaning Tower of Suurhusen. [ citation needed ] The Guinness World Records recognition was given by a Guinness-appointed awards committee in January 2010, when the exterior was completed. [ citation needed ]

The building has a diagrid specially designed to absorb and channel the forces created by wind and seismic loading, as well as the gradient of Capital Gate. Capital Gate is one of only a handful of diagrid buildings in the world. Others include London's 30 St Mary Axe (Gherkin), New York's Hearst Tower, and Beijing's National Stadium. [5]

Capital Gate was designed by architectural firm RMJM and was completed in 2011. The tower includes 16,000 square meters (170,000 sq ft) of office space and the Andaz Hotel on floors 18 through 33. [6] [7]

The Influence of the AIA

In the United States, architecture evolved as a highly organized profession when a group of prominent architects, including Richard Morris Hunt, launched the AIA (American Institute of Architects). Founded on February 23, 1857, the AIA aspired to "promote the scientific and practical perfection of its members" and "elevate the standing of the profession." Other founding members included Charles Babcock, H. W. Cleaveland, Henry Dudley, Leopold Eidlitz, Edward Gardiner, J. Wrey Mould, Fred A. Petersen, J. M. Priest, Richard Upjohn, John Welch, and Joseph C. Wells.

America's earliest AIA architects established their careers during turbulent times. In 1857 the nation was on the brink of the Civil War and, after years of economic prosperity, America plunged into depression in the Panic of 1857.

The American Institute of Architects doggedly laid the foundations for establishing architecture as a profession. The organization brought standards of ethical conduct to America's planners and designers. As the AIA grew, it established standardized contracts and developed policies for the training and credentialing of architects. The AIA itself does not issue licenses nor is it a requirement to be a member of the AIA. The AIA is a professional organization—a community of architects led by architects.

The newly formed AIA did not have funds to create a national architecture school but gave organizational support to new programs for architecture studies at established schools. The earliest architecture schools in the US included the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1868), Cornell (1871), the University of Illinois (1873), Columbia University (1881), and Tuskegee (1881).

Today, over one hundred architecture school programs in the United States are accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB), which standardizes the education and training of US architects. NAAB is the only agency in the US that is authorized to accredit professional degree programs in architecture. Canada has a similar agency, the Canadian Architectural Certification Board (CACB).

In 1897, Illinois was the first state in the US to adopt a licensing law for architects. Other states followed slowly over the next 50 years. Today, a professional license is required of all architects who practice in the US. Standards for licensing are regulated by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB).

Medical doctors cannot practice medicine without a license and neither can architects. You wouldn't want an untrained and unlicensed doctor treating your medical condition, so you shouldn't want an untrained, unlicensed architect to build that high rise office building in which you work. A licensed profession is a path toward a safer world.

History of Stabilisation

Fortunately this gave time for the underlying soil to settle, otherwise the tower would almost have certainly toppled. From December 1233, the tower’s construction continued with efforts to keep building whilst compensating for the tower’s tilt. In 1272, for example, under the architect Di Simone, engineers built upper floors with one side taller than the other, and it is because of this that the tower is curved. Eventually the bell tower was added in 1372, with the largest of the seven bells installed in 1655. The length of the project, caused by a mixture of construction failures, war and differing architects and designers makes the completion of the Leaning Tower even more impressive. Its struggles can be seen in the fact that it still leans, whilst its combination of Gothic and Romanesque style demonstrate its centuries worth of production.

Interestingly despite its unstable structure the tower is still with us today, surviving wars and natural disasters. It’s believed that at least four earthquakes have hit the Pisa region since 1280, but the apparently vulnerable Leaning Tower remained. Engineers have concluded that this is a result of the dynamic soil-structure interaction which enables the Tower to withstand tremors. Through a combination of the buildings height and stiffness and its soft foundations, the Tower does not resonate with earthquake ground motion, making its greatest vulnerability its cause of survival.

It wasn’t until May 2008 however, that it was announced that the tower had stopped moving for the first time in history. This is thanks to the worldwide request put out by the Italian government in 1964, asking for aid in preventing the tower from toppling. In response a multinational task force of architects, mathematicians, and engineers gathered on the Azores islands to come up with different stabilisation methods. Many methods were considered, including the addition of 800 tonnes of lead counterweights to the raised end of the base. During this stabilisation period the tower was closed to the public from 1990 – 2001. The bells were removed from atop to relieve some weight, and sturdy cables were cinched around the tower’s third level and affixed several hundred meters away to provide additional support. The chosen solution aimed to straighten the tower to a safer angle by removing 38 cubic meters of soil from underneath the elevated end, successfully straightening the tower by 45 cm.

With so much hard work and combined efforts gone into saving the Leaning Tower of Pisa it would be rude not to pay it a visit. To find out more, check out some of our Pisa tours below!

The history behind the Leaning Tower of Pisa

The Leaning tower of Pisa was actually the result of a human mistake. Just one little miscalculation made in the 11th century left us with an amazing 14,500 ton leaning tower!

Known among Italians as Torre Pendente di Pisa, this piece of architecture is significally different from most medieval architecture. The Leaning Tower of Pisa is located on the city&rsquos main square, Piazza del Duomo.

This square is also known as Piazza dei Miracoli, &ldquoMiracles&rsquo Square&rdquo, a name given by Italian writer Gabriele D&rsquoAnnunzio. In 1987 the whole square became one of the many Italian UNESCO World Heritage sites! The leaning tower is the third oldest building built in the square, after the wonderful Cathedral and its Baptistry.

With its many columns and archs, this tower boasts an advanced knowledge of weight and load characteristics, showing the Italian architectures&rsquo expertise. Why is the tower leaning then? What the architect didn&rsquot account for was the base of the tower, which was built on a dense section of clay&hellip

The Early Years of the Leaning Tower of Pisa

The construction of the Tower began in 1173. Originally designed to be a bell tower, it stood upright for over 5 years, but when the third floorwas completed in 1178 it began to lean. Italians were shocked by the event, as the tower began to lean ever so slightly.

The thing is the foundation of the tower, which is only 3-meter deep, was built on a dense clay mixture. This mix impacted the soil and furthermore the clay was not strong enough to hold the tower upright. As a result the weight of the tower began to diffuse downward until it had found the weakest point.

Due to this problem, construction works stopped for 100 years. The government decided to focus on its war with Genoa and hope that the soil would settle in the meantime.

Mistake after mistake!

After 100 years, engineer Giovanni di Simone stepped forward and started to add more floors to the tower. He tried to compensate for the original lean by making one side of the upper floors taller than the other. This only caused the tower to lean over even more&hellip

Unconcerned by the leaning, the tower was added a 7th floor in the second part of the 14th century, as well as a bell tower, and then the tower was left on its own until the 19th century.

In 1838 architect Alessandro Della Gherardesca, dug a pathway at the base of the tower to allow people to admire the intricately crafted base. This caused the tower to lean even more, probably due to the digging of its base.

Tower survives World War II

World War II caused destruction all over the World. The leaning tower of Pisa, however, was very very lucky.

In fact when American soldiers invaded Pisa, they were ordered to destroy all buildings as to prevent enemy snipers to find suitable places to hide. There were no exceptions to this rule, and many buildings were blown up everyday, as the US forces advanced over the Italian countryside. However a retreat took place shortly after the arrival of the Americans, making unnecessary to destroy the Leaning Tower of Pisa!

And it is still standing!

Twenty years after the end of the war Italy asked help to avoid the Leaning Tower from toppling. They didn&rsquot want the tower to lose its leaning though, because it is now the symbol of the city, a landmark loved by tourists from all over the world. As a temporary measure engineers and architects installed a leaden counterweight of 800 tonnes.

World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893

How did the 1893 World’s Fair impact Chicago and its architecture?

World, meet Chicago

The World&rsquos Columbian Exposition of 1893 was the first world&rsquos fair held in Chicago. Carving out some 600 acres of Frederick Law Olmsted&rsquos Jackson Park, the exposition was a major milestone. Congress awarded Chicago the opportunity to host the fair over the other candidate cities of New York, Washington D.C. and St. Louis, Missouri. More than 150,000 people passed through the grounds each day during its six-month run, making it larger than all of the U.S. world&rsquos fairs that preceded it.

The fair built awareness among visitors that Chicago was taking its place as the &ldquosecond city&rdquo after New York. Locals, too, were proud of the enormous progress and growth that were achieved in the two decades following the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. So momentous was the fair that it is represented as a star on the Chicago flag.

How did the 1893 World&rsquos Columbian Exposition impact the architecture of Chicago? Most directly, the fair promoted the rapid urbanization of the South Side. New corridors of development grew along the lake and the new elevated &ldquoL&rdquo train line (today&rsquos CTA Green Line) and new housing blocks were built for the fair&rsquos workers. Entertainment venues and hotels sprung up in nearby Hyde Park and Woodlawn too, some of which would evolve into major resort destinations through the mid-20th century.

The White City

The site of the exposition itself gained the nickname the &ldquoWhite City&rdquo due to the appearance of its massive white buildings. The White City showcased chief architect Daniel Burnham&rsquos ideas for a &ldquoCity Beautiful&rdquo movement. While the fair&rsquos buildings were not designed to be permanent structures, their architects used the grandeur and romance of Beaux-Arts classicism to legitimize the architecture of the pavilions and evoke solidity in this young city. Burnham and Edward H. Bennett&rsquos 1909 Plan of Chicago was a culmination of lessons learned at the fair. The plan offered Chicago a blueprint for growth and influenced city planning around the world.

The grand Neo-Classical buildings of the White City&mdashtemples to industry and civilization&mdashbecame templates for banks and public buildings across the country. They also influenced the designs of the museums that now stand on Chicago&rsquos lakefront. The Museum of Science and Industry is housed in the former Palace of Fine Arts from the world&rsquos fair. The Field Museum, which Burnham&rsquos architecture firm helped plan, was the first occupant of the Palace of Fine Arts (in the 1920s, it moved to a different Neo-Classical building). The influence of the White City also extended to downtown, where the Art Institute of Chicago was built for the 1893 fair.

Legacy of the fair

The millions of visitors who came to Chicago during the fair took home new ideas in commerce, industry, technology and entertainment. They crossed paths with others from around the world and walked away with a new perspective on Chicago. Travel writer James Fullarton Muirhead visited the fair from Scotland and later wrote: &ldquoSince 1893, Chicago ought never to be mentioned as &lsquoPorkopolis&rsquo without a simultaneous reference to the fact that it was also the creator of the White City, with its Court of Honor, perhaps the most flawless and fairy-like creation, on a large scale, of man&rsquos invention.&rdquo

Today, Chicago&rsquos Beaux-Arts buildings serve as a reminder of the exposition. In fact, many Beaux-Arts buildings around the country owe their existence to the White City. A darker legacy lives on in the nonfiction book, The Devil in the White City. It follows Daniel Burnham&rsquos work and the creation of the fair, as well as the actions of serial murderer Dr. H. H. Holmes. One of the fair&rsquos most prolific physical legacies is the Ferris Wheel, which was invented in 1893 for the exposition&rsquos amusements area on the Midway Plaisance. Thousands of &ldquoChicago Wheels&rdquo now rise above cities around the world.

Introduction to History of Architecture

The Study of Architecture History. Architectural history is the discipline that records, studies and interprets architecture. It studies its forms, purposes, and most importantly its evolution. Fortunately, ancient architecture can easily be observed and recorded. Studying architectural history enables us to understand the society and culture they represent which is very useful when working as a contemporary architect.

Comparing and studying ancient and contemporary architecture is essential. It allows an architect to consider a buildings or cities as more than a visual phenomenon and therefore the architect would have a more fundamental and culturally inclusive approach to architecture than an approach based purely on architect's own taste or style. Studying the history of architecture is extremely important because unlike studying history in other disciplinary groups, the purpose of studying the history of architecture when practicing contemporary architecture is to understand how architecture influences society and its culture.

In other words, students can study the history of architecture in order to understand how and why each era since the beginning of time formed its own unique style. The ''why'' is what really must be understood in order to produce the kind of a architecture our contemporary society needs because architectural should reflects the philosophies prevalent at any given time.

However, architectural history, like any other form of historical study, is subject to the limitations and subjectivity of history as a discipline. It is important to understand why a building was created a certain way in any given point in history for example, the feudal castles were built with not only defense in mind, but also to allow civilians and livestock to come inside during a time of war whereas gothic architecture was designed in order to inspire awe in the minds of the congregation every time anyone saw them. This awe lingers with us even today.

The study of architectural history can also be a good way to inspire modern day architects into trying new forms of design. Without access to differing styles of architecture, a designer would become stagnant and locked into one kind of building. If nothing else, the study of historical architecture will help to stimulate the creative juices in the minds of the students and this will make for more creative and flexible architects overall. For these reasons, it is important to study ancient architecture and learn the how and why these buildings were constructed.

50 Iconic Buildings Around the World You Need to See Before You Die

When it comes to learning about the history of a new destination, travelers should look no further than its iconic buildings. Of course, there are other ways to discover the local culture, which can be reflected in the food, the textiles, and the dialects, but it’s the buildings that can reveal the most about a place. Local landmarks are—in essence— silent witnesses to past eras, kingdoms, and tastes, but they can also offer us clues to what the future holds (not to mention make for a great travel gram, too).

Consider this lineup to be a travel bucket list of sorts. These buildings are renowned for various reasons—some for their architectural charm, others for their historical significance, and some for a healthy mix of both. A fair amount of them are well-known, of course: Think Europe’s museums, churches, and other landmarks whose replicas live on in souvenir shops and countless photos. There are also, of course, a decent number on this list designed by famous architects like Frank Lloyd Wright, Le Corbusier, and Oscar Niemeyer too. And while some of these edifices exist off the beaten path, they’re just as important in their own right. Here, AD rounds up iconic buildings from around the world that you’ll be glad you’ve seen when you look back on your travels. It’s been said that travel is the only thing you can buy that makes you richer, and we couldn’t agree more.


An 'acropolis' is any citadel or complex built on a high hill. The name derives from the Greek akro, high or extreme/extremity or edge, and polis, city, translated as 'high city', 'city on the edge' or 'city in the air', the most famous being the Acropolis of Athens, Greece, built in the 5th century BCE.

Though the word is Greek in origin, it has come to designate any such structure built on a high elevation anywhere in the world. The Castle Rock in Edinburgh, Scotland, for example, fortified as early as 850 BCE, would be considered an acropolis, as would be those cities of the Maya Civilization which fit that definition, even if they were not built on a natural elevation, but one made by human hands. This same model would apply to the Native American cities of North America and the great mounds such as those at Cahokia or Poverty Point which had temples and residences built on earthen mounds built by hand.


Although there were other city-states in ancient Greece boasting an impressive acropolis (such as Thebes, Corinth and, most notably, at Kolona on the Island of Aegina), and the designation 'acropolis' was also used in ancient Rome for a series of buildings set on a higher elevation than the surrounding geography, in modern times the word 'acropolis' is synonymous with the ancient site at Athens.

Athens Acropolis

The Acropolis of Athens was planned and construction was begun under the guidance of the great general and statesman Pericles of Athens (l. 495 - 429 BCE). Over two years of detailed planning went into the specifications and contracting the labour for the Parthenon alone, and the first stone was laid on 28 July 447 BCE, during the Panathenaic festival.


Wishing to create a lasting monument which would both honour the goddess Athena (who presided over Athens) and proclaim the glory of the city to the world, Pericles spared no expense in the construction of the Acropolis and, especially, the Parthenon, hiring the skilled architects Callicrates, Mnesikles, and Iktinos, and the sculptor Phidias (recognised as the finest sculptor in the ancient world who created the statue of Zeus at Olympia, one of The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World) to work on the project.

According to the historian Pedley, “the work…was carried out under the supervision of Phidias. In fact, Plutarch says that Phidias was in charge of the whole of Pericles' scheme” (251). Hundreds of artisans, metalworkers, craftspeople, painters, woodcarvers, and literally thousands of unskilled labourers worked on the Acropolis. Phidias created a gold and ivory statue of Athena which stood in the Parthenon, known as the Temple of Athena Parthenos ('Athena the Virgin' in Greek), while a smaller statue of the goddess was erected in the centre of the Acropolis near a more modest temple of Athena. During the Panathenaic festival, celebrants would carry a new robe to the ancient wooden cult statue of Athena, housed in the Erechtheion.

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The Athenian Acropolis is the supreme expression of the adaptation of architecture to a natural site. This grand composition of perfectly balanced massive structures creates a monumental landscape of unique beauty consisting of a complete series of masterpieces of the 5th century BC. The monuments of the Acropolis have exerted an exceptional influence, not only in Graeco-Roman antiquity, a time when in the Mediterranean world they were considered exemplary models, but in contemporary times as well.

The Acropolis rises 490 feet (150 metres) into the sky above the city of Athens and has a surface area of approximately 7 acres (3 hectares). The site was a natural choice for a fortification and was inhabited at least as early as the Mycenaean Period in Greece (1900-1100 BCE) if not earlier. There was already a complex built on the hill, and a temple to Athena in progress, which was destroyed by the Persians under Xerxes in 480 BCE when they sacked Athens. The later structures, famous today, were built as a testament to the resilience of the Athenians following the defeat of Xerxes' forces at the Battle of Salamis (480 BCE) and to exemplify the glory of the city.

The four main buildings in the original plan for the Acropolis were the Propylaia, the Parthenon, the Erechtheion, and the Temple of Athena Nike. The Propylaia was the ornate entranceway into the temple complex, while the Parthenon was the central attraction. Pedley writes:


The Parthenon is unusual for its mass of Doric refinements…Though these modifications to the horizontal and vertical are miniscule, there are nevertheless no true verticals or horizontals in the building, and hence no right angles. At the same time, these refinements impart a sense of mobility to `straight' lines and avoid a boxlike appearance. Dignity of form was thus enhanced by dynamism of forms. The demands on the masons were enormous. All blocks, whether curving or not, had to fit flush yet everywhere block fits meticulously with block, and only on one or two metopes does the carving betray signs of uncertainty or haste. Precisely proportioned, marvelously constructed without mortar or concrete, held together by iron clamps coated with lead to withstand corrosion, this magnificent structure haunts us today with its astonishing blend of technical know-how and grandeur. (253)

Changes to the Acropolis

Other buildings were added as the Acropolis was in use, and the Roman emperor Hadrian (76-138 CE) added his own flourishes to the city, and the Acropolis, during his reign. With the rise of Christianity after Constantine the Great (l. 272-337 CE) the Parthenon became a church and the Acropolis a centre of Christian devotion. In keeping with the Church's common practice, all pagan images were destroyed and modifications made to the temples to bring them into alignment with Christian sensibilities. After the fall of Rome in the West (476 CE) and then that of the Byzantine Empire in the East (1453 CE) to the Turks, the Acropolis was transformed into a Muslim place of worship and the Parthenon became a mosque.

The buildings of the Acropolis were damaged through ill use and neglect during the Turkish occupation of Greece (when the Parthenon was used to garrison troop headquarters and the Erechtheion was turned into the governor's harem) and suffered further damage during the Venetian siege of 1687 CE when the Italian forces sought to dislodge the Turks from Greece. Following the War of Independence of 1821 CE, the Greeks reclaimed the Acropolis and attempted to restore it to its former glory.

The English Lord Elgin, however, with the Turks approval, had “removed a number of the pedimental figures and large chunks of the frieze of the Parthenon, and sold them to the British Museum in 1816” (Pedley, 263). Further, the damage to much of the Acropolis, after years of occupation and neglect, seemed irreparable. Only in the latter part of the 20th century CE was serious restoration and preservation work initiated on the Acropolis site. Such work is ongoing in the present day including a new museum which houses significant artefacts from the site.

Leaning About Architecture of the World - History

Modern architecture is a term applied to an overarching movement, with various definitions and scopes.

Learning Objectives

Describe the characteristics of modern architecture

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • In a broad sense, early modern architecture began at the turn of the 20th century with efforts to reconcile the principles underlying architectural design with rapid technological advancement and the modernization of society.
  • Modernism eventually generated reactions, most notably postmodernism which sought to preserve pre-modern elements, while neomodernism emerged as a reaction to postmodernism.
  • Some believe modern architecture developed as a result of social and political revolutions. Others see modern architecture as primarily driven by technological and engineering developments.

Key Terms

  • ornament: An element of decoration.
  • eclecticism: Any form of art that borrows from multiple other styles.
  • modernism: Any of several styles of art, architecture, literature, philosophy, etc., that flourished in the 20th century characterized by formal purity, medium specificity, art for art’s sake, experimentation, abstraction, a rejection of realism, and a revolutionary or reactionary tendency.

Modern architecture is a term applied to an overarching movement, with various definitions and scopes. In a broad sense, early modern architecture began at the turn of the 20 th century with efforts to reconcile the principles underlying architectural design with rapid technological advancement and the modernization of society. It would take the form of numerous movements, schools of design, and architectural styles, some in tension with one another, and often equally defying such classification.

Chicago Modernism: Contrasts in modern architecture, as shown by adjacent high-rises in Chicago, Illinois. IBM Plaza (right), by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, is a later example of the clean rectilinear lines and glass of the international style, whereas Marina City (left), by his student Bertrand Goldberg, reflects a more sculptural mid-century modern aesthetic.

The concept of modernism would be a central theme in these efforts. Gaining popularity after World War II, architectural modernism was adopted by many influential architects and architectural educators and continues as a dominant architectural style for institutional and corporate buildings into the 21 st century. Modernism eventually generated reactions, most notably postmodernism which sought to preserve premodern elements, while neomodernism emerged as a reaction to postmodernism.

Notable architects important to the history and development of the modernist movement include Frank Lloyd Wright, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Walter Gropius, Le Corbusier, Oscar Niemeyer, and Alvar Aalto.

Early Modernism

The Crystal Palace, 1851, was one of the first buildings to have vast amounts of glass supported by structural metal, foreshadowing trends in modernist architecture.

There are multiple lenses through which the evolution of modern architecture may be viewed. Some historians see it as a social matter, closely tied to the project of modernity and thus the Enlightenment. Modern architecture developed, in their opinion, as a result of social and political revolutions. Others see Modern architecture as primarily driven by technological and engineering developments. Still other historians regard Modernism as a matter of taste, a reaction against eclecticism and the lavish stylistic excesses of Victorian and Edwardian architecture.

Frank Gehry

Frank Owen Gehry (born Frank Owen Goldberg 28 February 1929) is a Canadian-born American architect residing in Los Angeles. Gehry’s best-known works are world-renowned and include the titanium-clad Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris, France MIT Ray and Maria Stata Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts The Vontz Center for Molecular Studies on the University of Cincinnati campus Experience Music Project in Seattle New World Center in Miami Beach Weisman Art Museum in Minneapolis Dancing House in Prague the Vitra Design Museum and the museum MARTa Herford in Germany the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto the Cinémathèque française in Paris and 8 Spruce Street in New York City.

Frank Gehry, Bilbao Guggenheim, 1997: The Bilbao Guggenheim exemplifies Gehry’s interest in structural experimentation and grand spaces.

Much of Gehry’s work reflects a spirit of experimentation coupled with a respect for the demands of professional practice. With his earliest educational influences rooted in modernism, Gehry’s work has sought to escape modernist stylistic tropes while still remaining interested in some of its underlying transformative agendas. Continually working between given circumstances and unanticipated materializations, Gehry’s style works to disrupt expectations.

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (March 27, 1886 – August 17, 1969) was a German-American architect. Along with Le Corbusier, Walter Gropius, and Frank Lloyd Wright, he is widely regarded as one of the pioneers of modern architecture.

Mies, like many of his post-World War I contemporaries, sought to establish a new architectural style that could represent modern times just as classical and gothic did for their eras. He created an influential 20th-century architectural style with extreme clarity and simplicity. His mature buildings made use of modern materials such as industrial steel and plate glass to define interior spaces. He strove toward architecture with a minimal framework of structural order balanced against the implied freedom of unobstructed free-flowing open space. He called his buildings “skin and bones” architecture. He sought an objective approach that would guide the creative process of architectural design, but he was always concerned with expressing the spirit of the modern era. He is often associated with his quotation of the aphorisms “less is more” and “God is in the details”.

Frank Lloyd Wright

Frank Lloyd Wright (born Frank Lincoln Wright, June 8, 1867 – April 9, 1959) was an American architect, interior designer, writer, and educator, who designed more than 1,000 structures, 532 of which were completed. Wright believed in designing structures that were in harmony with humanity and its environment, a philosophy he called organic architecture. This philosophy was best exemplified by Fallingwater (1935), which has been called “the best all-time work of American architecture”. Wright was a leader of the Prairie School movement of architecture and developed the concept of the Usonian home, his unique vision for urban planning in the United States. His creative period spanned more than 70 years.

Frank Lloyd Wright, Fallingwater, 1936-39: Fallingwater stands as one of Wright’s greatest masterpieces, both for its dynamism and for its integration with the striking natural surroundings. It serves as a perfect example of his “organic” philosophy, whereby structures were designed in harmony with humanity and its environment.

Wright’s work includes original and innovative examples of many building types, including offices, churches, schools, skyscrapers, hotels, and museums. Wright also designed many of the interior elements of his buildings, such as the furniture and stained glass. Wright wrote 20 books and many articles and was a popular lecturer in the United States and in Europe. His colorful personal life often made headlines, most notably for the 1914 fire and murders at his Taliesin studio. Already well known during his lifetime, Wright was recognized in 1991 by the American Institute of Architects as “the greatest American architect of all time”.

In the United States

Wright’s Larkin Building (1904) in Buffalo, New York, Unity Temple (1905) in Oak Park, Illinois, and the Robie House (1910) in Chicago, Illinois were some of the first examples of modern architecture in the United States. Frank Lloyd Wright was a major influence on European architects, including both Walter Gropius (founder of the Bauhaus) and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, as well as on the whole of organic architecture.

Watch the video: A Global History of Architecture (November 2021).