It is with a great measure of ambivalence that I write this. The reason being: I grew up in a fascinating land rich with ancient archaeological treasures, and my university training taught me to follow and love only Modernist tenets. I appreciate both sides of this polemic. I see great and poor design on both sides. But over the years I noticed an extreme bias of one side against the other and only in the past few did the ‘disenfranchised’ side respond with intelligence and force. This mirrors our current political stasis where one side, “tolerant”, actually does not wish to hear at all from the other. The side marginalized for years and years may now even see legislation supporting their view and preference.
I graduated with a Master in Architecture from Texas A&M University in 1978. As Rush Limbaugh likes to say: our ‘minds were full of mush’. Students absorb whatever their professors espouse. We went to college with hopes and dreams and expected reality to accept what we had learned and the world to hire us to exercise our newly acquired skills and theories. This seemed to work (the modern approach) in the commercial world but not in the residential. And as clinical as my Bauhaus inspired training seemed to be, there was never a political connection to style or design. In fact, all personal beliefs, other than design theory, was not discussed in any of my classes. As we slowly realized, in the art and architecture world of the 40s to present day especially, things were not as neutral and antiseptic as we were led to believe.
Where have we heard this malarkey before? Why in our recent Democrat vs. Republican dialogues. The right is racist, the left inclusive, etc. What we have experienced since the 40s has been an intolerance of Modernists to accept any argument favoring Traditional architecture. This is no doubt a parallel of the current political malaise.
Rand’s hero in The Fountainhead. Wright was also an avowed socialist. He eventually abandoned his Usonian houses to beat the Modernists at their own game. He capitulated to the left. Philip Johnson reintroduced an all-glass house, based on Mies’s model, and influenced a generation of architects. He then dallied in Post Modern design, working-in traditional elements to his large projects later in his career. In the mid-40s however, Johnson was invited by the Nazis to Warsaw and joined the high brass to watch the city get bombarded and burn to the ground. Others, like Corbu were fascist sympathizers.