unmistakable contribution to architecture has been the skyscraper, whose
bold, thrusting lines have made it the symbol of capitalist energy.
Made possible by new construction techniques and the invention of the
elevator, the first skyscraper went up in Chicago in 1884.
of the most graceful early towers were designed by Louis Sullivan (1856-1924),
America's first great modern architect. His most talented student was
Frank Lloyd Wright (1869-1959), who spent much of his career designing
private residences with matching furniture and generous use of open
space. One of his best-known buildings, however, is a public one: the
Guggenheim Museum in New York City.
architects who emigrated to the United States before World War II launched
what became a dominant movement in architecture, the International Style.
Perhaps the most influential of these immigrants were Ludwig Mies van
der Rohe (1886-1969) and Walter Gropius (1883-1969), both former directors
of Germany's famous design school, the Bauhaus. Based on geometric form,
buildings in their style have been both praised as monuments to American
corporate life and dismissed as "glass boxes." In reaction,
younger American architects such as Michael Graves (1945- ) have rejected
the austere, boxy look in favor of "postmodern" buildings
with striking contours and bold decoration that alludes to historical
styles of architecture.