Postmodern Architecture Quiz



9 Questions

What is postmodern architecture?

Who introduced the postmodern architecture movement?

What is one of the trademarks of postmodern architecture?

What is the Piazza d'Italia in New Orleans?

What is the Walden 7 apartment block in Sant Just Desvern?

What is the aim of postmodern architecture?

What is the recent movement of New Urbanism?

What is the Neo-Andean style?

What is double coding in postmodern architecture?


Postmodern Architecture: Origins and Notable Architects

  • Postmodern architecture emerged in the late 1950s as a reaction against the perceived shortcomings of modern architecture, particularly its rigid doctrines, lack of ornament, and ignoring of the history and culture of the cities.

  • Architects Denise Scott Brown and Robert Venturi introduced the movement in their book, Learning from Las Vegas, and urged architects to take into consideration and celebrate the existing architecture in a place.

  • Postmodern architecture takes into account both historic precedents and the ideas and forms existing in the real life of the cities around them, incorporating historical elements, unusual materials, and historical allusions.

  • Notable postmodern architects include Robert Venturi, who formalized the movement in his book, Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture, and designed the Guild House in Philadelphia and a house for his mother in Chestnut Hill, which became symbols of the postmodern movement.

  • Michael Graves designed two of the most prominent buildings in the postmodern style, the Portland Building and the Denver Public Library, and later designed low-cost retail stores for chains such as Target and J.C. Penney.

  • Charles Moore designed the Piazza d'Italia in New Orleans, a public square composed of an exuberant collection of pieces of famous Italian Renaissance architecture, and the Beverly Hills Civic Center, which includes courtyards, colonnades, promenades, and buildings with both open and semi-enclosed spaces.

  • Philip Johnson began his career as a pure modernist but turned dramatically toward postmodernism in the late 1970s with the AT&T Building and PPG Place, which have neo-gothic features, including 231 glass spires, the largest of which is 82 feet high.

  • Frank Gehry was a major figure in postmodernist architecture and is one of the most prominent figures in contemporary architecture, and his most prominent project was the Guggenheim Bilbao museum, clad in undulating skins of titanium.

  • César Pelli designed some of the world's tallest buildings and other major urban landmarks, including the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur and the World Financial Center in New York City.

  • Notable postmodern buildings in Europe include the Sainsbury Wing of the National Gallery in London by Robert Venturi, the Messeturm skyscraper in Frankfurt, Germany, by Helmut Jahn, and the SIS Building in London by Terry Farrell.

  • James Stirling designed colorful public housing projects in the postmodern style, as well as the Neue Staatsgalerie in Stuttgart, Germany, and the Kammertheater in Stuttgart, as well as the Arthur M. Sackler Museum at Harvard University in the United States.

  • Aldo Rossi was known for his postmodern works in Europe, including the Bonnefanten Museum in Maastricht, the Netherlands, and was the first Italian to win the most prestigious award in architecture, the Pritzker Prize, in 1990.

  • Ricardo Bofill designed postmodern works in Spain, including the Walden 7 apartment block in Sant Just Desvern and the W Barcelona Hotel.Postmodern Architecture: Characteristics, Examples, and Theories

  • Postmodern architecture emerged as a reaction against the doctrines of modern architecture, offering complexity and contradiction, with curved forms, decorative elements, asymmetry, bright colours, and features often borrowed from earlier periods.

  • Postmodern buildings often break large buildings into several different structures and forms, sometimes representing different functions of those parts of the building, with the use of different materials and styles, a single building can appear like a small town or village.

  • Asymmetric forms are one of the trademarks of postmodernism, with oblique buildings which tilt, lean, and seem about to fall over being common.

  • Color is an important element in many postmodern buildings; to give the façades variety and personality, colored glass is sometimes used, or ceramic tiles, or stone, with the buildings of Mexican architect Luis Barragan offering bright sunlight color that gives life to the forms.

  • Humor is a particular feature of many postmodern buildings, particularly in the United States, with "camp" humor being popular during the postmodern period.

  • The characteristics of postmodernism allow its aim to be expressed in diverse ways, including the use of sculptural forms, ornaments, anthropomorphism, and materials that perform trompe-l'œil.

  • Postmodernism, with its sensitivity to the building's context, did not exclude the needs of humans from the building.

  • Postmodern buildings sometimes utilize trompe-l'œil, creating the illusion of space or depths where none actually exist.

  • The Sony Building in New York is an example of double coding, where the buildings convey many meanings simultaneously.

  • Postmodern architecture has been described as neo-eclectic, where reference and ornament have returned to the façade, replacing the aggressively unornamented modern styles.

  • Modernist architects may regard postmodern buildings as vulgar, associated with a populist ethic, and sharing the design elements of shopping malls, while postmodern architects may regard many modern buildings as soulless and bland.

  • One building form that typifies the explorations of postmodernism is the fragmentation of large buildings into several different structures and forms.Postmodern Architecture: A Reaction to Modernism

  • Postmodernism saw the comeback of traditional elements such as columns, and the use of decorative façades and embellishments of the Beaux-Arts and Art Deco periods.

  • Postmodernism was influenced by the contextualism trend, which believed that knowledge cannot be understood without considering its context.

  • Postmodernism originated as a reaction to the perceived failure of modern architecture, which was preoccupied with functionalism and economical building, and had abandoned the teaching of architectural history.

  • The rise of interest in history had a profound impact on architectural education, leading to the development of programs such as the Advanced Masters-Level Course in the History and Theory of Architecture.

  • Postmodernism aimed to produce buildings that were sensitive to the context within which they were built, and reintroduced ornament, color, decoration, and human scale to buildings.

  • Postmodernism often incorporated contradictory quotes of previous building styles and furniture stylistic references at a huge scale.

  • Postmodernism saw the comeback of columns and other elements of premodern designs, sometimes adapting classical Greek and Roman examples.

  • Postmodern architecture often addressed the context in terms of the materials, forms, and details of the buildings around it—the cultural context.

  • The postmodernist movement is often seen as an American movement, starting in America around the 1960s–1970s and then spreading to Europe and the rest of the world.

  • The recent movements of New Urbanism and New Classical Architecture promote a sustainable approach toward construction, that appreciates and develops smart growth, architectural tradition, and classical design.

  • Some postmodern architects, such as Robert A. M. Stern and Albert, Righter, & Tittman, have moved from postmodern design to new interpretations of traditional architecture.

  • The Neo-Andean style takes a similar approach to ornamentation as broader postmodernism.


Test your knowledge of postmodern architecture with this quiz! Learn about the origins and notable architects of the movement, as well as its characteristics and reactions to modernism. From the use of decorative elements to the incorporation of historical allusions, see how much you know about this influential architectural style.

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