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1972-Present: Postmodernism

Reshaping the Past

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Combining new ideas with traditional forms, postmodernist buildings may startle, surprise, and even amuse.
Philip Johnson's At&T Headquarters is often cited as an example of postmodernism.

Philip Johnson's At&T Headquarters (now the SONY Building) is often cited as an example of postmodernism.

Photo © Flickr Member Dan McKay
Postmodern architecture evolved from the modernist movement, yet contradicts many of the modernist ideas. Combining new ideas with traditional forms, postmodernist buildings may startle, surprise, and even amuse. Familiar shapes and details are used in unexpected ways. Buildings may incorporate symbols to make a statement or simply to delight the viewer.

Philip Johnson's At&T Headquarters is often cited as an example of postmodernism. Like many buildings in the International Style, the skyscraper has a sleek, classical facade. At the top, however, is an oversized "Chippendale" pediment.

Postmodern Architects:

Further Reading:

The key ideas of Postmodernism are set forth in two important books by Robert Venturi.

Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture
In this groundbreaking book, published in 1966, Robert Venturi challenged modernism and celebrated the mix of historic styles in great cities such as Rome. (Compare Prices)

Learning from Las Vegas
Subtitled "The Forgotten Symbolism of Architectural Form," this postmodernist classic called the "vulgar billboards" of the Vegas Strip emblems for a new architecture. Published in 1972, the book was written by Robert Venturi, Steven Izenour, and Denise Scott Brown. (Compare Prices)

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