Gwendolyn Wright’s “USA: Modern Architectures in History” offers an insightful and engaging exploration of the evolution of modern architecture in America. The book provides a comprehensive survey of American modern architecture, tracing its development from the late 19th century to the present day. The author offers a compelling narrative of the complex and multifaceted history of modern architecture in the US, exploring its origins, key figures and movements, and its diverse forms and expressions.
The book’s introduction sets the tone for the rest of the text. Establishing the central themes and concepts that inform the author’s analysis. Wright argues that modern architecture in the US is characterized by a tension between tradition and innovation. Also between the desire to break with the past and the need to connect with it. She also emphasizes the social, political, and cultural contexts that shaped the development of modern architecture. Highlighting its relationship to broader historical and intellectual trends.
Origins and Early Developments
The first section of the book explores the origins and early developments of modern architecture in the US. Wright traces the influence of European modernism on American architecture. Examining the works of early practitioners such as Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright. She also discusses the impact of technological advancements and changing social and economic conditions on the development of modern architecture.
The Rise of the Skyscraper
The second section of the book focuses on the rise of the skyscraper and its impact on American architecture. Wright explores the history of the skyscraper as a symbol of American innovation and progress, and examines its various forms and expressions. She also discusses the role of architects such as Mies van der Rohe and Philip Johnson in shaping the development of the skyscraper as a distinctive architectural form.
The third section of the book examines the postwar period and the emergence of a new wave of modernism in American architecture. Wright explores the impact of World War II on the development of modern architecture. Highlighting the role of government programs and policies in shaping its direction. She also discusses the rise of corporate architecture. And the impact of consumer culture on the design of buildings and public spaces.
Postmodernism and Beyond
The final section of the book explores the postmodern turn in American architecture and its aftermath. Wright examines the emergence of postmodernism as a reaction to the perceived excesses of modernism. And discusses its various forms and expressions. She also explores the impact of globalization and digital technology on contemporary architecture. It considers the future of modern architecture in America.
In the book’s conclusion, Wright reflects on the significance of modern architecture in American history and culture. She emphasizes the importance of understanding the complexities and contradictions of modern architecture. The need to engage with its legacy in shaping the built environment of the future. She also underscores the ongoing relevance of modern architecture in addressing the challenges of sustainability, social equity, and urban development in the 21st century.
Overall, “USA: Modern Architectures in History” is a valuable resource for anyone interested in the history and development of modern architecture in America. Wright’s engaging writing style, combined with her extensive knowledge and expertise in the field. It makes this book a must-read for architects, historians, and anyone interested in the built environment. The book’s comprehensive scope, clear organization. And insightful analysis make it an ideal text for students and scholars of architecture and design.