Postmodern architecture: from Las Vegas to Japan (2022)

Architecture | 25 Jul 2018

Postmodern architecture: from Las Vegas to Japan

Postmodernarchitectureemerged in the late 1960s as a backlash against the monotony of modernism.It was acry for architects to unstick themselves from entrenched ideals and endlessly accumulating glass blocks. In protest, postmodernism addedexpressive characteristicsonto the muted paletteof modernity such ascolour, reappropriatinghistorical styles andhumour. Denise Scott Brown andRobert Venturistepped out onto the sidewalks of Las Vegas to see what they could learn from the low-brow. Philip Johnson, Michael Graves and Charles Moore piled up neoclassical references in new ways. Terry Farrell combined Aztec design with green glazingin London,James Stirling threw pink-painted metal pipes against travertine in Stuttgart andArataIsozaki deconstructed mathematical forms, combining the high-tech with the traditional. It’s a movement that kept on moving,embarking down new routeswell into the 1990s and early 00s; nothing was ever too much.

Postmodern architecture: from Las Vegas to Japan (1)

Binoculars BuildingbyFrank Gehry
Venice, Los Angeles, US

This West Coast HQ for advertising agencyChiat/Day was designed by Frank Gehry. When the ad agency departed, the building became rentableoffice space and adoptedits self-explanatory nickname,the Binoculars Building.The building is acombination of three distinct portions – the central one being a pair ofover-sized binoculars, an artwork byCoosje van Bruggen andClaes Oldenburg that opens up a pedestrian and vehicle entrance.Only the Los Angeles-based Gehry could have dreamed up this theatrical and humourous design, that looks like it should belong in a theme park.Google is one of the morerecent office tenants, moving therein 2011.

Photography: Grant Mudford

Postmodern architecture: from Las Vegas to Japan (2)

The SIS Building byTerry Farrell
London, UK

(Video) What is Postmodern Architecture?

A leader of postmodern architecturaltheory, architect Terry Farrell reached a pinnacle of British postmodernismwith hisSIS Building that is nowheld up as a key example of the movement. Known to Londoners as theMI6 Building, the cream-coloured stone and green-windowed blockrises from the south bank of the Thamesin Vauxhall attracting a fair amount of attention for a supposedly secret service building. Its accumulating blocksstack up in reference to Mayan and Aztec temple design resulting in a layeredfortress that incorporates 60 open-air terraces into its design – as well as triple-glazed windows and butressed protection against bombs.

Photography:George Rex

Postmodern architecture: from Las Vegas to Japan (3)

The Neue Staatsgalerie, Stuttgart,by James Stirling (Michael Wilford & Associates)
Stuttgart, Germany

Selected by competition, British architect James Stirling’s design for this museum of modern and contemporary art in Stuttgart combinestraditional elements of 19th-century museum design withmodernism. This can be seen most clearly in the materials –aluminousgreen steel framecollides with pink and blue handrails against the classical architectural palette ofclassicaltravertine and sandstone.The job of the building, situated on its sloping site,was to unite Stuttgart’smodern art offering with the originalStaatsgalerie built in 1843. Stirling’s aim was to capture a sense of timelessness and demonstrate the evolvingrelationship between art and architecture.

Photography:Fred Romero

Postmodern architecture: from Las Vegas to Japan (4)

Clos Pegase Winery (left) and Hyatt Regency Fukuoka (right) by MichealGraves
Napa Valley,California, US, and Fukuoka,Japan
1987 and 1993

Modernism meetsancientMediterraneanarchitecture at this Napa Valley winery designed by Michael Graves. Wine-lovers are welcomed through animpressiveterracotta-colouredentrance portico supported by huge pillars. Designed for wine production and tasting, the winery is accompanied by a residence commissioned by its foundersMrand MrsJan Shrem and it also includes a ‘Cave Theatre’ excavated out of the 1858 sq mof caves.

Another of Graves’ grand creations,The Hyatt Regency Fukuoka holds a vast pyramid structure in its midst naturally lit from above and encircled by a rotunda of hotel rooms. Thefacade of the building is sheathed with a glass curtain wall that is a glazed layer above thepre-cast masonry grid. Inside, agrand stairway beneatha gold-leafed pavilion connects the levels of the building. As well as the hotel, the buildingcontains a 11,000sq moffice space,conference rooms, lounges, restaurants, retail, and a wedding chapel.

Postmodern architecture: from Las Vegas to Japan (5)

The Walt Disney Concert Hall by Frank Gehry
Los Angeles, US

The whipped stainless steel peaks of theWalt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angelesexpress the height of Frank Gehry’ssculptural magic. Bringing some drama to the downtown skyline, thetotally deconstructed form of the concert hallis closer to art than architecture, yet somehow it manages to function as one of the most atmospheric venues inthe world.Set on a glass façade at the ground level, the building opens up to a uniquetimber panelled interior with acoustics designed by Minoru Nagata.

Photography: Gehry Partners LLP

(Video) Modern and Post-modern Architecture

Postmodern architecture: from Las Vegas to Japan (6)

Piazza d’Italia by Charles Moore andPerez Architects
New Orleans, US

ArchitectCharles Moore was commissioned by the city of New Orleans to design a piece of public architecture for the Italian-Americans of the city, who had arrived inwaves ofimmigrationfrom the late 19th century and represent a significant portion of the community.Working with the local Perez Architects, Moore assembled a series of classical public objects includinga water fountain in the shape of Italy,colonnades, a clock tower and aRoman temple, arrangingthem like a still life. Moore abstracted these objects with modern materials, until the plaza lookedlike a two-dimensional painted stage set.

Postmodern architecture: from Las Vegas to Japan (7)

Art Tower in Mitoby Isozaki Arata
Ibaraki, Japan

Rising like an electrical charge nearly 100minto the sky, this tower designed by Arata Isozakiis part of an arts complex in Mito, Japan that includes a concert hall, theatre anda contemporary art gallery.The landmark geometrictower isbased on the tetra-helix shape. The piece was commissioned by Mito City, located 120km from Tokyo, to celebrate its 100th anniversary.

Photography:Kentaro Ohno / Yuko Honda

Postmodern architecture: from Las Vegas to Japan (8)

Martel College, Rice UniversitybyMichael Graves
Houston, Texas, US

After completingthe masterplan for Rice University, Michael Graves was commissioned to design a new complexthat combined adormitory, classrooms, a library, dining commons, apartments for faculty, as well as a separate house for the college master and a kitchen and servery for all three Rice University colleges. Graves took on the challenge resulting in thisneat Martel college building as part of the designthat spans 10,000sq m andcalmly incorporates all functions required within its classically tiered architectural layers. Buildings are arranged around courtyardsfollowing the university’s request for the building to encourage a community focused lifestyle.

Photography: Richard Payne. Courtesy of Michael Graves & Associates

(Video) Postmodern architecture

Postmodern architecture: from Las Vegas to Japan (9)

Berlin Philharmonic by Hans Scharoun
Berlin, Germany

On the edge of Berlin’s TiergartenGerman architectHans Scharoun designed this organic metallicbuilding toreplacea previous concert halldestroyed in the Second World War. While the yellow colour is unexpected, it complements the natural surroundings. Soon, boldarchitectural neighbours followed, including the Neue Nationalgalerie designed by Mies van der Rohe (1968)and the brutalist Staatsbibliothek (1978)also designed by Hans Scharoun, withEdgar Wisniewski. Beneath thedramatic ceiling of the main auditorium that reflectsthe shapes of the facade, thecentrally placed stage was designed toprojectsound in all directions to the surrounding audience.

Photography:Tobias Nordhausen

Postmodern architecture: from Las Vegas to Japan (10)

Palau Sant Jordi byArata Isozaki
Montjuic, Barcelona, Spain

Designedfor the BarcelonaOlympic Games in 1992, this sporting arena was inaugurated in 1990 and has become a social, sporting and musical hub for the city – holding24,000 in its concert hall. Sitting atop the Montjuic mountain, it is a friendly, curving form that sought to fuse influence of the east and west to create a new sense of international modernity. It also made sure to reach the highest technical achievement through modern engineering, includingthe use of mechanised materials fora flexible venue that is still central to the life of the city today.

Photography:Victoriano Javier Tornel García

Postmodern architecture: from Las Vegas to Japan (11)

Kreeger Museum by Philip Johnson with Richard Foster
Washington DC, US

(Video) Why is Postmodern Architecture so Bizarre?

This art musuem was previously the residence of culture-loversDavid Lloyd Kreeger and Carmen Kreeger who were members of the Washington DC arts community.Located in a wooded park of over five acres,its pale stone,layeredarches were inspired by Roman aqueduct design.Defying its own typology as a house,it seems to have beenbuilt to fulfil a public role which it rose to, eventually opening as a public museum.Entry through thevaulted front porchleadsinto the Great Hall which is linedwithfabric walls and chevron wood floors.

Photography: Payton Chung

Postmodern architecture: from Las Vegas to Japan (12)

The Bonnefanten Museum by Aldo Rossi

Aldo Rossi’s fine art museum in Maastricht lifts influencefrom the industrial past of its site. The domed cupola structure rises likea beacon of postmodernism along theRiver Meuse, alongsidethetraditional 17th-century Dutch architecture of the city. While the exterior architecture is unexpected, the interior follows a traditional gallery layout.Rossi designed the exhibition spacesto be lit from above, organised around an’E’ shaped plan and a central staircase.

Photography: Sebastiaan ter Burg

Postmodern architecture: from Las Vegas to Japan (13)

Torres KIObyPhilip Johnson and John Burgee
Madrid, Spain

This pair of office towerssubverts the sleek, verticalAmerican modernist skyscraper form with a new angle. Philip Johnson and John Burgee challenged engineersLeslie E. Robertson Associates and the constructionteam atFomento de Construcciones y Contratas to buildthe first ever diagonal skyscrapers. The extremediagonal slant allows thestructures to lean into and above Madrid’s central avenuePaseo de la Castellana. The forms are criss-crossed with red metal cladding above a darkened glass curtain wall, patterned withgreymullions.The west tower hasa blue helipad at the top, whilethe east tower has a red helipad.


Why is Las Vegas a postmodern city? ›

They argue that Las Vegas was made a postmodern city owing to its architecture which brought out a new city. Other postmodern elements in the city such as the reconstruction of the Las Vegas city has made the city to move to higher levels of gambling.

What are three examples of postmodern architecture? ›

10 Postmodernist Buildings That Are Out of This World
  • Vanna Venturi House, Philadelphia, USA. ...
  • Piazza Italia, New Orleans, USA. ...
  • The Portland Building, Portland, USA. ...
  • Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Spain. ...
  • James R. ...
  • Dolphin and Swan Hotels at Walt Disney Resort, Florida, U. ...
  • The Neue Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, Germany.

What is an example of postmodern architecture? ›

The house designed by Robert Venturi for his mother Vanna Venturi is the earliest example of postmodernist architecture. Venturi designed and built the house from 1962 to 1964. Venturi went through six versions of the design before finally settling on the design scheme for the house.

What makes a city postmodern? ›

The Postmodern city hence relates itself to urban imaginary, which is composed of a conglomeration of ideas and images. These are built through the visual memory of the individual and imaginary creations that have to do with the use of the visual intelligence form - space.

Why do people think Las Vegas is a simulation? ›

Visitors experience the space of the atrium, which is so large it contains its own buildings. Going into the attractions, visitors find themselves in virtual spaces simulated with images as they appear to plummet into the earth and fly through the earth's interior.

What defines postmodern architecture? ›

What Is Postmodern Architecture? Postmodern architecture, sometimes known as “PoMo,” is a style of building design that embraces individualism and experimentation. It emerged as a movement against traditional, classical styles and sought to make buildings dynamic and fun while breaking the rules.

What is one of the main characteristic of postmodern architecture? ›

Postmodern buildings had curved forms, decorative elements, asymmetry, bright colours, and features often borrowed from earlier periods. Colours and textures were unrelated to the structure or function of the building.

What is the difference between modern and postmodern architecture? ›

Modern architecture focuses on creating a relationship between the material and structure by relating and adopting them to their present technological era, Whereas Post-modernist architecture emphasizes the vitality of historical elements in design.

What are the three key principles of postmodernism? ›

postmodernism, also spelled post-modernism, in Western philosophy, a late 20th-century movement characterized by broad skepticism, subjectivism, or relativism; a general suspicion of reason; and an acute sensitivity to the role of ideology in asserting and maintaining political and economic power.

What is the characteristics of postmodernism? ›

Postmodern literature is a literary movement that eschews absolute meaning and instead emphasizes play, fragmentation, metafiction, and intertextuality.

Is Zaha Hadid a postmodern? ›

Zaha Hadid is considered a prominent figure within postmodern architecture, specifically within the deconstructivist movement.

Who is the father of postmodernism? ›

FOLLOWING the great American modernist poets of the first decades of the 20th century -- Pound, Eliot, Williams -- Charles Olson is the father of the "postmodernists" of the second half of the century, bridging Pound & Co. to such major poets as Robert Duncan and Robert Creeley.

Who is known as the architect of postmodernism? ›

The architect and theorist Robert Venturi played an important role in the history of the field as one of the first authors to write on the subject of postmodernism in his book Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture (1966).

Is Los Angeles a postmodern city? ›

Edward W. Soja called Los Angeles 'the quintessential postmodern metropolis'.

Is New York a postmodern city? ›

New York City, where the skyscraper has found its architectural apotheosis time and again, is home to some of the best examples of postmodernism's paradoxical relationship to the high-rise typology.

Whats a post modern Western city? ›

- the postmodern city is an urban form associated with changes in urban infrastructure, architectural design and planning and reflects the changed social and economic conditions of the late 20th century in some western cities.

What does Las Vegas represent? ›

A scout by the name of Rafael Rivera was the first European to discover this desert oasis. He named the valley "Las Vegas," which translates roughly into "The Meadows," to acknowledge the wild grasses which grew in the nutrient rich desert soil with ample supply of water.

Is kitsch in Las Vegas? ›

After California (Los Angeles and San Diego), the path leads us to Nevada and Las Vegas.

What is the importance of Las Vegas? ›

The Las Vegas Valley as a whole serves as the leading financial, commercial, and cultural center for Nevada. The city bills itself as The Entertainment Capital of the World, and is famous for its luxurious and extremely large casino-hotels together with their associated activities.

What is an example of modern architecture? ›

The most renowned examples include buildings like Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater and Philip Johnson's Glass House, and though these sites have become meccas for modern aesthetes, they aren't without their faults.

What is the first postmodern building? ›

Venturi House, Philadelphia, USA, 1964

This home, designed by two of the movements' trailblazers, Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown, is widely considered to be the first Postmodern building, paving the way for the movement that would gain traction in the '70s.

Which is true of postmodern architecture? ›

Which is true of Postmodern architecture? A hallmark of postmodern architecture is visual complexity, the extensive use of historical references, colorfulness, and fun.

What is postmodern architecture in AP Human Geography? ›

Postmodern architecture decries the modern architectural emphasis on efficiency and industry; instead postmodern architecture tries to design buildings that are visually pleasing to human beings and provide modern humans with a link to their past.


1. Postmodern architecture From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
2. Phases of Post Modern Architecture Part I
(IIT Roorkee July 2018)
3. The Postmodern Turn in Architecture
(Vermont Humanities)
4. Post modern architecture, 2018
(Mrs. McConnell's AP Art History, JDCHS)
5. Post Modernism
(Triton Architectural History Class)
6. Robert Venturi & Denise Scott Brown - American architecture in Japan and our travels (98/118)
(Web of Stories - Life Stories of Remarkable People)

You might also like

Latest Posts

Article information

Author: Chrissy Homenick

Last Updated: 10/14/2022

Views: 6133

Rating: 4.3 / 5 (54 voted)

Reviews: 85% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Chrissy Homenick

Birthday: 2001-10-22

Address: 611 Kuhn Oval, Feltonbury, NY 02783-3818

Phone: +96619177651654

Job: Mining Representative

Hobby: amateur radio, Sculling, Knife making, Gardening, Watching movies, Gunsmithing, Video gaming

Introduction: My name is Chrissy Homenick, I am a tender, funny, determined, tender, glorious, fancy, enthusiastic person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.