Organic Architecture Through Functionalism and Minimalism

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The inspiration of nature in design created a movement of Organic Architecture through functionalism and minimalism since the 1800’s influencing some of the greatest architects to emerge. Functionalist architects and artists design utilitarian structures in which the Organic Architecture dictates the development within and moves outward in harmony with its surroundings, without regard to such traditional devices as axial symmetry and classical proportions or any other heavy ornamentation. Louis Henry Sullivan's design theory that “form ever follows function” leads the dialogue towards a new world of design where the buildings effect on its surroundings is considered. Inspired by his mentor Frank Lloyd Wright expands on the design theory with “form and function should be one, joined in a spiritual union.” Nature is used in relation to building, materials and design. Phillip Johnson contributes to the movement with stating “Architecture is the art of how to waste space.” By simplifying with the International Style which has geometric forms, open interiors, and the use of glass, steel, and reinforced concrete there is an unobstructed view of the exterior from the interior. Eero Saarinen pushed past what he called “The ABC’s of modernism “that were simple & abstract to utilizing new materials, innovative construction techniques, and sculptural forms in his design. He created some of the most interesting roofs. I intend on showing how each of these architects in their own contribution inspired awareness to nature and design. The movement of Organic Architecture is a product of all their dedication and hard work.

Louis Henry Sullivan (1856–1924)
Louis Sullivan was born in Boston in 1856. He went to MIT before moving to Philadelphia then to Chicago. He also studied at L’Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris. In the 19th century this school was considered just as prestigious as today’s most sought after graduate schools of fine arts. It attracted students from all over the world. The American Institute of Architects was formed in 1857. This caused universities like MIT and Columbia to offer degree programs in architecture. Ecole des Beaux Arts style stresses classical proportions, scale, balance, beauty, and an understanding of from the ancient world down through the Renaissance and its influence on architecture. Louis Sullivan thought both MIT & Ecole des Beaux Arts were disappointing do to the focus on the Renaissance and classical periods. He yearned for something outside the box. This hungry for more helped him be noted as one of the influential & innovative architect in movement of the modern period. When he returned from Paris partnered with Dankmar Adler and formed Adler Sullivan in Chicago in 1881. They both had specific roles in the firm. Sullivan with the design partner and Adler was the engineer. Chicago’s regrowth after the Chicago Fire 1871 was booming, so their timing was great! The two complemented each other creating an appreciation of their work because it pushed to a more forward thinking in design approach. For example the McVicker's Theater which was remodeled in 1885 caused critics to proclaim their work genius! Sullivan used incandescent lighting and electric chandeliers when most were still gas lamps. After another fire in 1890 it was redesigned by Adler & Sullivan again. Sadly the building was demolished in 1985 and replaced with a new 40 building.

McVicker's Theatre, before the fire of 1871 McVicker's Theatre, completed 1883-1885. Demolished 1922 Louis Sullivan rejected the standard classical design with detailed ornamentation was inspired by organic architectural elements inspired by nature. Sullivan was influenced by the theory of evolution by Charles Darwin. Most know Sullivan for creating the first skyscraper with the use of iron and steel skeletons. His designs of these...
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