Architecture is the art or practice of designing and building
Structures. American architecture varies significantly from
architecture of the ancient world.
American architecture began around the seventeenth century.
Settlers from different European countries brought with them, during
the North American colonization, the different techniques and forms
from their homelands.
Colonial architecture was adapted by the climate of the site
chosen, the availability of building materials, and supplies. Skilled
workers, particularly trained builders were a must. The general
poverty of the colonial settlers was also a factor. Colonial architecture
can be broke down into two types.
New England settlers' architecture reflected the late Gothic
Inspiration, such as the gabled houses of wood. The houses also had
prominent brick chimney stacks. The south's chief building material
was brick. Many churches and statehouses reflected the classicness
of the eighteenth century English architecture.
During the early 1730s a growing prosperity and commerce
Brought an influx of well-trained artisans to America. English
architectural books became more available.
Protestant churches adopted and simplified the contemporary
English styles. Architects such as Christopher Wren and James Gibbs,
designed many of these churches. Two American examples of these
churches were Christ Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and St.
Paul's Chapel in New York City, New York.
During the end of the colonial period, architectural styles
became more based on ancient Roman and Greek buildings. The
style coincided with the American Revolution, thus the neoclassical
style became very closely identified with the political values of the
Presidents George Washington and Thomas Jefferson gave
serious thought to architecture because they were deeply involved
with the planning and building preparations of Washington, D.C. Both
Statesman looked to the classical world as their best source of
inspiration. Jefferson's conception of the Roman ideas of beauty and
proportion were elegantly expressed in his design for the Virginia
State Capitol at Richmond.
Architecture, previously reserved for the demain of gentleman
amateurs and master builders, became more proffesionalized in the
first half of the nineteenth century. The arrival of several well known
European architects, including Benjamin Henry Latrobe, greatly
enhanced the field.
During the Antebellum period, the south built great mansions.
Many were two-story colonnades on large plantations. The shift
from earlier Roman based classicism to Greek. Many Greek
buildings were located in Washington D.C. and Philadelphia,
In the Southwest, the Spanish tradition, often modified by
Eastern influences remained dominant until the Mexican War.
The writings of John Ruskin influenced American architects at
about the time of the Civil War. The fashionable Victoria buildings
were seen, such as the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in
Philadelphia. Historical architecture intensified in the decades
following the Civil War. Newly wealthy patrons resulted in the
sprawling, elaborate mansions of Newport, Rhode Island.
During this period, many architects went to Paris to study, if
possible, to the Ecole des beaux-Arts (school of the Beautiful Arts), to
Receive their specific training's. Architectural schools were
established in the United States, beginning with the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology in 1865.
In the second half of the nineteenth century, the United States
advanced into the new building technologies. Engineering became a
distinctly separate profession. One of the most famous all American
achievements was the Brooklyn Bridge, designed by John and
Washington Roebling. The commercial buildings and skyscrapers of
big cities were admired greatly.
After World War 1, the "prairie style", developed by Frank Lloyd
Wright, became a very common residential style. In the 1950s the
functionalist mode of architecture was seen in the design of
Coorporate office buildings. Postmodern architecture remained
dominent throughout the 1970s-present. Although some
contemporary architects have created their own style. Frank Gehry's
asymmetrical, sculptural buildings, using both common and unusual
materials, are an architectural world unto themselves.
The art of designing structures has changed greatly through the
years. European architecture and American architecture are similar in
some ways while different in others.