9 Questions

What is the International Style characterized by?

Who were some of the modernists involved in the development of the International Style?

What did Walter Gropius and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe become known for?

Where was the exhibition Modern Architecture: International Exhibition held?

What contemporary styles were excluded from the Modern Architecture: International Exhibition?

What is the White City of Tel Aviv?

What is the criticism of the International Style?

What did architect Robert Venturi's book Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture criticize?

Who are some notable architects of the International Style?


20th-century Modern Architectural Style

  • The International Style is a major architectural style developed in the 1920s and 1930s that was closely related to modernism and modernist architecture.

  • The style is characterized by an emphasis on volume over mass, the use of lightweight, mass-produced, industrial materials, and the rejection of all ornament and colour.

  • The International Style can be traced to buildings designed by a small group of modernists, including Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Jacobus Oud, Le Corbusier, Richard Neutra, and Philip Johnson.

  • The founder of the Bauhaus school, Walter Gropius, and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe became known for steel frame structures employing glass curtain walls.

  • The exhibition Modern Architecture: International Exhibition ran from February 9 to March 23, 1932, at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), in the Heckscher Building at Fifth Avenue and 56th Street in New York.

  • The exhibition excluded other contemporary styles that were exploring the boundaries of architecture at the time, including Art Deco, German Expressionism, and the organicist movement.

  • The gradual rise of the Nazi regime in Weimar Germany in the 1930s meant that an entire generation of avant-gardist architects, many of them Jews, were forced out of continental Europe.

  • The White City of Tel Aviv is a collection of over 4,000 buildings built in the International Style in the 1930s.

  • The residential area of Södra Ängby in western Stockholm, Sweden, blended an international or functionalist style with garden city ideals.

  • The rise of Nazism caused a number of key European modern architects to flee to the US.

  • After World War II, the International Style matured, and it became the dominant approach for decades in the US and Canada.

  • International Style skyscrapers came to dominate many of Canada's major cities, especially Ottawa, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Hamilton, and Toronto.International Style Architecture

  • The Place de Ville skyscrapers in Ottawa were built with disregard for existing city plans.

  • The International Style high-rise typically includes certain design features.

  • Ciudad Universitaria de Caracas in Venezuela and Ciudad Universitaria of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México are examples of International Style architecture.

  • Mexican architect Luis Barragán designed buildings in the International Style before switching to a more traditional local architecture.

  • Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer created a more organic and sensual version of the International Style.

  • Criticism of the International Style includes accusations of impracticality and a lack of consideration for local history and climate.

  • Architect Robert Venturi's book Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture was a critique of the International Style and helped define postmodernism.

  • Author Tom Wolfe wrote a book-length critique of the International Style.

  • The International Style's supposed strength of universality has been criticized as a weakness.

  • Architectural critic Hugh Pearman has observed that those using the International Style today are simply "another species of revivalist."

  • The history of modern architecture has been criticized for a "disturbing Eurocentric bias."

  • Notable architects of the International Style include Le Corbusier, Walter Gropius, and Mies van der Rohe.


Test your knowledge of the 20th-century modern architectural style with this quiz! Learn about the International Style, its key architects and their iconic works, as well as its evolution and criticism. From steel frame structures to glass curtain walls, and from Ottawa to Caracas, this quiz covers it all. Challenge yourself and see how much you know about the International Style and its impact on modern architecture.

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