starchitects reign supreme


Modernist architects, who reigned from the middle of the 20th century into the 1970s, roughly, created no shortage of stirring buildings. But their attempts to rewrite the rules of the modern city were about as successful as the Hindenburg, with which modernism shared German roots.

The nadir — and architects are really sick of this story by now — was the attempt by American cities to remake slums according to the principles of such leading modernists as Le Corbusier: Crisp high-rise housing projects sprouting out of green yards announced a new era in America’s treatment of its poor. Yet by the late ’60s these buildings were widely seen as disasters — hyperconcentrated loci of crime and despair– and in 1972, when St. Louis dynamited its massive Pruitt-Igoe housing complex, designed by architect Minoru Yamasaki (the World Trade Center was also his), some modernist dreams imploded, too.

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