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Architecture in the U.S.

Part 1

Cultural Analysis

Rafael Vinoly Architects designed the Bronx County Hall of Justice. The owner and the patron of the structure was the City of New York. The Hall of Justice was built in line with Greek architectural elements promoting its effective appearance. Rafael Vinoly Architects was related to the City of New York having a dream of a transparent judicial system. Both wanted to ensure that the rights and freedoms of individuals are upheld by means of a transparent and just system. This relationship was instrumental, because it helped Rafael Vinoly Architects focus on designing the elements of the Bronx County Hall of Justice in an open manner. It is reflected by open civic space (Resnik and Curtis 55). Other significant factors, such as cultural, political, and social influences, also played an instrumental role in determining the design of the structure. Rafael Vinoly Architectures paid attention to cultural and social beliefs of the people of Bronx when designing the image of the structure. It was created in such a manner that it recognized the beliefs of the Bronx community concerning effective justice. Additionally, the design of the image was also influenced by political factors relating to the law. The Hall of Justice was built in a way that allowed light into the building, reflecting the true sense of justice that it was going to uphold.

Architect Stanford White designed the New York Bronx Community College Library. Henry Mitchell MacCracken, who was the Chancellor of the New York University between 1891 and 1910, was the patron of the project. The structure adopted the Neo-Renaissance architectural element in its style ensuring that it was effective. The relationship between architect Stanford White and patron Henry Mitchell MacCracken was founded on the professional grounds. They referred to each other in terms of their professionalism, and the fame, which they had gained in their respective fields. The relationship immensely influenced the design of the building. It was built in such a manner that it contained the Hall of Fame for Great Americans such as Graham Bell and George Westinghouse (White, Willensky, and Leadon 76). Professional relationships determined this kind of design. More so, the latter was influenced by social, economic, and cultural factors. Economic and cultural factors also influenced the appearance of the building. The design reflected its urge to boost the reading culture of the community and generate brains that would transform the economy.

Topical Issue

The City of New York has a humid continental climate. The geographical peculiarities of the City of New York are related to the architecture used in the construction of the Bronx County Hall of Justice. Rafael Vinoly Architects used the facade system to ensure that it significantly matched the geographical location of the City of New York. The humid continental climate is also related to the construction of the walls of the building using glass. The latter element was vital, because it easily allowed light into the building ensuring that there was warm and a clear environment on the interior side. The geographical climate is also related to the architectural design of the structure with openings (Whiffen and Koeper 89). It allows the sunlight to penetrate into the building ensuring that the spirit of justice is reflected. It is worthwhile noting that the humid nature of the City of New York played an instrumental role in the use of glass on the outside of the building, since it could not be destroyed by extreme humid conditions. The design of the structure with the use of glass on the exterior walls also relates to the humid climate because of its ability to resist negative environmental phenomena.

More so, the humid climate of the City of New York is related to the design of the New York Bronx Community College Library. The architectural design of the building entailed the use of concrete in its construction. It was vital, because it ensured that the structure was not easily brought down by extreme winter conditions, which had been always witnessed in the City of New York. Concrete was taken as the key material in the design in order to brave harsh humid conditions and extreme effects of the winter weather experienced in the City of New York. The foundation of the structure was also built in such a manner that it could resist bad climate conditions (Frusciano and Pettit 101). Additionally, in the architectural design, ventilation is also adapted to the humid weather of the City of New York. The windows were made of glass, which was highly tolerant to the environment of the City of New York. All these factors of the architectural design were instrumental in ensuring that the building was resistant to any negative effects posed by harsh climatic conditions, such as those in winter.

Part 2

Cultural Analysis

The United States Capital is a building architected by Thornton and Benjamin Henry Latrobe. The patron of the structure was the Washington’s administration. Thornton was accredited with coming up with the design of the building, after a competition had been proposed by Thomas Jefferson. In coping with this task, Thornton was influenced by two major neoclassical buildings of that time situated in France. They include Paris Pantheon and Perrault’s Colonnade. Thornton’s design was accepted, because it depicted simplicity, and did not reflect much of the outside culture. The architect was a native of Britain, but travelled a lot. It influenced the design, with which he came up. Research indicates that after having graduated from the University of Aberdeen in 1784, he travelled to Paris, where he met his mother after a long period of time. His stay in Paris was what specifically influenced the design (Allen 45). On the other hand, Latrobe is a native of England, but migrated to the United States in his later years. He worked for the State Penitentiary before been employed as a surveyor of state buildings. He had a religious background, which influenced the design of the United States Capitol. History indicates that he was a reverend’s son. It meant that he visited several churches, where he got architectural ideas. He was also culturally influenced by his travels to various countries, such as France and Italy. Lastly, Thomas Jefferson, who was under the Washington’s administration, played a critical role in assenting to the design, with which Thornton had come up. His influence emanated from the fact that he was a vice-president. Thus, Thornton’s and Latrobe’s economic position during that time influenced their designs, as they could visit various countries for educational purposes or touring. They were also influential members of the community, since they had notable positions in the economy. Notably, Latrobe’s architectural influences emanated from the fact that he had met with Baron Karl, who was a classical scholar. In addition, the countries, which Latrobe had visited, had many buildings that were influenced by the Greek architecture. It played a critical role in influencing the United States Capitol building, as Thomas Jefferson had came up with a style closely related to the Greek style. Research also asserts that the design adopted by Jefferson and Latrobe was dedicated to depict political ideals of democracy.

John Thompson was an architect and patron of the John Thompson House that was built in 1740. The house is located in Pennsylvania, United States. John Thompson was influenced by the Victorian style, and more specifically, he was an American Revolutionary War veteran. It meant that he fought in the Apache Wars under the first U.S. Cavalry (King 87). His interaction with Indians influenced his architecture, as they utilized houses as shelters against attacks. Research also indicates that the emigration of English architects was noted during the 18th century. It was due to the need of starting careers these architects. Thus, some of them emigrated to the United States. This fact can also account for the rise of the Victorian architecture in the region, inclusive of the John Thompson House.

Topical Issue

Research indicates that the John Thompson House was built as an upcountry home. The house is located in the Hudson valley, which explains its structure and concept. The building has highly decorated interiors to offer comfort to the people living in it or those visiting. Thus, it is evident that the house is meant to be a place for luxury, which explains its exterior design to match the interior one. The structure is meant to provide a clear view to visitors and those owning it. It is explained by the tower that has extended windows and is said to provide a clear view to the Hudson River, especially during winter. As a family house, it required many rooms to cater for all family members and visitors. It explains the building’s structure and concept. Research indicates that the building comprises sixteen rooms (Books 121). These are distributed according to the house structure with five on the first floor, three on the third and eight on the second floor. The house is made of two brick walls. It helps in preventing heat during summer and also in making the house structure stronger.

On the other hand, the United States Capitol building has interior arts, which are given credence by the outside structure of the building. The latter, which depicts domes, facilitates the artworks visible inside the building, meant to reflect the culture of the United States with paintings of prominent people and others. These are reflected in the outside structure of the building, as it has domes, which allow for the installation of portraits. The United States Capitol also has many chambers situated inside (Fairman 104). These are reflected in the building’s structure, as it has extensions on both ends in order to allow all the chambers to fit within the structure. The fact that the building houses the Old Supreme Court Chamber is reflected in its exterior structure. The east part of the Capitol appears to be a judge wearing a wig, as it has a dome-shaped roof. Notably, the Capitol handles most United States internal and external affairs. It explains why the building is adorned with various flags that depict the country’s loyalty to what it stands for.

Part 3

Cultural Analysis

Frank Lloyd Wright was the architect of the Darwin D. Martin Complex. The patron of the house was Darwin D. Martin and his wife Isabelle. It was located in Buffalo and adopted the prairie style in its design. The building is considered to be one of the most significant projects developed during the Wright Prairie School era. The relationship between Martin and architect Wright emanated from excellent work, which Wright had done in the design of the Martin’s brother’s house. Martin went ahead and proposed Wright to work on more projects, involving the building of houses. This relationship significantly shaped the design of the building, since it involved a more thorough analysis of the entire project. It also led to the uniqueness in the design of the Complex. Economic and social conditions also shaped the architectural image of the house. Martin was a rich individual, who co-owned the E-Z Stove Polish Company in Chicago (Quinan 34). A large amount of finances he had shaped the architectural design of the house in the sense that it achieved the desired level of complexity. Martin’s high economic status ensured that all vital parts of the house were involved in its architectural image. More so, social factors, such as the relationship between Martin and his brother, also shaped the design of the building. This relationship was instrumental in ensuring that the house was built in a manner that matched both tastes.

Frank Lloyd Wright was the architect of the Rosenbaum house. The patron of the project was Stanley Rosenbaum and his wife Mildred. It was built in Florence, Alabama and adopted the Usonian house style. Notably, the Rosenbaum house was designed for a single family. It is regarded one of the 26 pre-World War II Usonian houses in the USA. The relationship between the architect and the patron was professional and emanated from the information in The Times (Cerny 122). It shaped the design of the house, because it involved immense professional research of a unique design for a single family. Economic and social factors played an instrumental role in shaping the architectural image of the Rosenbaum House. Economically, Rosenbaum was extremely rich, as he had given a lot of money to build the house. It shaped the design, as it was adopted in a manner, which could satisfy the economic status of Rosenbaum. Socially, the design was shaped under the influence of the Jacobs House in Madison, which had also been built using the Usonian style. Rosenbaum was immensely touched by it and decided to adopt a similar style using the L-shaped design.

Topical Issue

Vernacular architecture is a type of architecture based on local needs and the available materials within a particular place. It also refers to the construction of a building in line with cultural aspects of a place. The local social structure refers to the common code of practice for all individuals within a particular locality. The Darwin D. Martin Complex is a low two-storey block, terminated on the right side by a covered porch and a porte-cochere on the left side. It was one of the common types of styles that the society was using at that particular time. The shape was also influenced by the local architectural designs that Martin had witnessed from his brother and other works by architect Wright. The living room of the house had an enormous space for a fireplace. This design was shaped by the climatic conditions of the place. It could be helpful in winter, when climatic conditions were extremely chilly (Jaffe 101). It played a vital role in shaping the appearance of the entire house. The building was also divided into different sections, ensuring that it catered for the cultural aspects of the individuals living in it. People were used to partitions within a house aimed to facilitate effective operation.

Vernacular architecture and local social structure also influenced the design of the Rosenbaum House. These aspects affected the kind of materials that were used in the building. It was built using the available natural materials, such as cypress wood, glass, bricks, and steel. These materials influenced the making of the building into an L-shape. It ensured that the house met the requirements. Vernacular architecture was also instrumental for the partition of the rooms, which were divided effectively with each having its own door (Broach, Lambert, and Bagby 78). The overall system of people using local materials, such as cypress wood, was significant in influencing the design of the building. It ensured that the Rosenbaum House also adopted a similar approach. Varying climatic conditions also influenced the architecture of the house. It was designed in a manner that allowed a free flow of air within the house. Partitions ensured that there was a place for every activity within the house promoting its effectiveness. The structure was also made up of multi-level low rising steel-cantilevered roofs, which covered the floor and the adjoining carport. It was shaped by the existing climatic conditions of the place, ensuring that it could withstand them and satisfy the needs of occupants.

Part 4

Cultural Analysis

The S.R. Crown Hall, located at the Illinois Institute of Technology, refers to a modern masterpiece designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe in 1956. The building represents the architect’s theories and concepts in the most mature form (Rohe 86). The campus was picked out by Mies to design a building. He was good at architecture, design, and city planning. Therefore, the building had to be a masterpiece, where students would learn and study about its structure and architectural concepts. This piece of work stands out because of its plainness and openness. It departs from the module established by the architect in his master plan. The end result had to be something representational; it had to proclaim the highest ideals and purposes of the campus.

The project was costly; therefore, the campus sought donations from well-wishers, who had to contribute to a $750,000 target. The most significant was Henry Crown, a trustee of the IIT and a businessman, who donated a sum of $250,000 from his foundation. The building was named after him. This amount meant that the structure was ambitious and daring; it had to have a touch of innovativeness by combining steel and glass. Crown Hall shows Mies’ two obsessions: a minimum and maximum transparent structure. Since many students had to study inside, the Crown Hall is built like a self-contained house. Its free volume explains the industrial beauty of simplicity of states in steel frames.

The Yale Center for British Art refers to a building at the Yale University, which is an art museum designed by Louis I. Kahn. It was built to accommodate a broad collection of British Art masterpieces outside the country. The museum was established upon the request of Paul Mellon, who sponsored study programs (Heyer 21). Therefore, the building had to reflect the ideals of a large museum. Its design had to take into account several precise needs. As an educational institution, the structure needed to have a number of learning-oriented spaces. The design comprised several stipulations for storage and exhibition space for sculptures, paintings, prints, and drawings. It also had to have an auditorium, a photograph archive, a book collection, a research library, offices, workshops, conservation space, and classrooms. Kahn liked to embrace modernism, clearly seen in the museum structure. According to Kahn, the museum should be designed to fade behind the artwork. It should be able to honor and display its holdings. Kahn had experience in building modern galleries; therefore, he created a structure that was entirely free. It needed to be spacious, because small museums would look like storage houses.

Topical Issue

The materials used in building the Crown Hall included glass, steel and reinforced steel. The steel and glass construction, refined by Mies Van Der Rohe, was essential in capturing the hall’s simplicity and space. Situated in the middle of the campus, the building had to stand out and act as one of the landmarks at the institute. Its free volume could only come out clearly with the use of glass. The surroundings include large trees in a vast green area in the south fa?ade, which makes the building stand out even more.

The steel frames used in the design were important in characterizing the industrial beauty of simplicity. The main floor is made up of glass-enclosed space that takes half of the building. This part is dedicated to the learning of architecture, which was the main theme of the Crown Hall. Glass and magnificent steel were essential in creating universal space that had to be flexible in its use (Carter 87). The divisions inside have few moving parts from lightweight panels, which allow for the placement of space, which is needed. The glass facades make an open environment, where students can experience the feeling of working in a park with vegetation.

The Yale Center for British Art uses reflective glass, mat steel and concrete frame to portray a noble and armored appearance to serve its purpose. The materials used in the building add to its musculature and physicality. The use of concrete together with oak panel inserts creates a warm and sedate feeling that sheds light and ambiance to the art on the display. The panes devised by Kahn were meant to bring light inside of the building. The expansive wooden ceiling also makes the interior appear spacious.

Kahn also designed metal panes to be brushed with warm colors, which mingle with wooden cladding to light up the place (Brownlee 411). The outside of the museum is made from dull metal penetrated by several glassy openings. This material offers an ascetic feeling; however, it blends with the institutional surroundings. The lighting on the ceiling uses a coffered skylight system, which gives the whole building a rich and seductive ambiance. It is well-scaled eighteenth and early nineteenth century sculptures and paintings. Overall, the use of glass and steel ensures that the structure appears huge; the design is based on a cyclical 20 square foot grid.

Part 5

Cultural Analysis

The Vanna Venturi House is a residential building situated in Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia. It is a pioneer in postmodern architecture built between 1962 and 1964. The architect, Robert Venturi, was the son of the patron, Mrs. Vanna Venturi. He designed the building to test his beliefs in contradiction and complexity; he thoroughly went through six versions of the house, which came to be the first building of postmodern architecture (Venturi 130). It is simple and complex, big and little, open and closed, with some elements being good and bad; its order conforms to the general elements of the house.

Venturi designed the house putting various elements in mind. Since his mother was an elderly widow, he located her bedroom on the ground floor. Venturi designed the house to suit mother’s reproduction furniture and antique,s she had collected over the years. There was no garage, because she could not drive at the time. She trusted her son to do a beautiful job; therefore, she did not make demands concerning the house’s aesthetic value or program. Thus, the architect arranged many basic elements of the building to react against modernist aesthetics: the use of pitched roof, emphasis put on the chimney and central hearth, and a close ground floor, among many others.

Gehry House refers to a private home built by Frank Gehry himself. Situated in Santa Monica, California, the house started with a conventional tract house seen with a gambrel roof and clapboard siding. Gehry re-invented the house and the interior to depict a deconstructionist work of architecture. The building was finished in 1978, when the architect wrapped the outside with such things as glass, corrugated metal, plywood, and chain link. He did not have enough cash; therefore, these were alternatives. Berta, his wife, had bought a small bungalow, which Gehry planned to expound on it and make it look more meaningful (Cohen 383). The house gives the impression of a building still under construction. The architect wanted to achieve it.

The division between new and old is clear, as one passes through two doors. Gehry could apply any ideas he wanted to the house, because it was his. The patron, his wife, let him apply any idea and architectural elements that seemed to miss a coherent plan. These transformations were a result of several impulses, which were let to exist without a clear reason or rhyme. The building seems to fly between both postmodernism and modernism. Traditional design models and symbols were reinterpreted, and rare materials in architectural projects were used.

Topical Issue

Robert Venturi designed the structure of the house according to his personal architectural ideas. It was at the time, when he wrote a book known as Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture. Therefore, the house is a quintessence of the ideas expressed in his book. He said that he liked to embrace hybrid elements more than pure (Venturi 132). He did not like straightforwardness that was a characteristic of many architects of the day; he preferred messy vitality more than normal unity. The plan was a generic house, but with odd twists.

The plan of the interior has only five functional rooms, and other exterior parts. It seems to appear larger than it is. The mother requested her bedroom and the kitchen to be on the first floor together with the living space. The staircase rises to the second floor at an awkward angle (Venturi, Scully, and Rossi 224). The architect experimented with scale to create complexity and contradiction. Several elements in the house, such as the fireplace and mantel height appear to be too big as compared to the size of the room, in which they are. The doors are wide, but placed low in contrast to the magnificence of the space at the entrance. The house is a mixture of diagonal, curvilinear, and rectangular elements together.

Frank Gehry believed in the deconstructionist movement. He employed several structural elements that appeared to be odd to neighbors. He brought down the inner walls to expose studs that were in the old house. From here, he added and subtracted his own unique architectural elements without a plan. He added relatively chip materials, such as plywood and chain link to the outside of the house. His style of architecture departs from modernism, which criticizes the functional necessity and societal goals (Cohen 384). Deconstructivist buildings do not show specific universal or social ideas, such as the universality or speed of form. Furthermore, they do not reflect the idea that form has to follow functionality.

Gehry House reflects the ideas of deconstructive architecture; the structure is separated from the normal context and subverts from its first spatial intention (Sorkin 300). Gehry’s style appears crude and unfinished at times, and uses inexpensive objects and traditional media. He made an extension to the structure of the house, which covered only three sides. It made the old house look like a familiar object with a new structure. Most of the exterior was not touched, though parts of it enter into the new house. Other places were retained or repaired. Therefore, the structural design ,matches the personal philosophy of Gehry.

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