In the video lecture presented by Joanna Merwood-Salisbury, she explains the development and new innovation of skyscrapers. There were four skyscrapers that she focused on were: The Reliance, Monadnock Building, Masonic Temple and the Chicago Stock Exchange, all of which were located in Chicago. These four skyscrapers were huge innovations at the time when Chicago was growing faster than ever.

For one, the skyscrapers were space savers. As the city kept growing, they were running out of room for everyone. Instead of extending the city our horizontally, they chose to extend vertically. Some new inventions that made the skyscraper possible was the elevator, steel beams, and curtain wall construction. These buildings became the “new American style”. These buildings, because of the new materials were able to stand in harsh weather conditions such as wind and snow.

The early skyscrapers were viewed as products of their designers due to the fact of the “curtain wall construction”. Because of the steel beams creating the supporting frame inside, instead of having the support from the exterior walls, it allowed all types of designs to be created on the exterior walls. For example, one skyscraper may be seven stories tall but the designer created it to look like it only has three stories. The designer could have created this look or façade by extending windows vertically that continue through various floors. There could also be intricate designs on the base of the skyscraper, along the top, or even the spandrel.  


Chicago as a “Second City”

In the late 19th century and early 20th century, America was growing faster than ever. The cities were a huge contribution to this growth. Cities such as New York City and Chicago at this time were flourishing rapidly. NYC was considered the first, primary city while Chicago coined the name “second city”. Both cities were moving forward with various new innovations and designs.  

Chicago being a “second city” freed them to explore more alternative ideas in their buildings. It was a way for them to take risks, try new things, and think from a different perspective. They did not have the pressure of  being the number one city, feeling like they had to stick with tradition. Chicago was able to create designs and innovations that people had never seen before.

Chicago was able to showcase their innovations when they hosted a world’s fair in 1893 named the World’s Columbian Exposition.

Lithograph advertising the Chicago Day celebration at the fair which commemorated the anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.

The exposition was in honor of the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s landing in America. For this, Chicago created various extravagant new structures and buildings. With many new materials, the possibilities for these structures were endless. Chicago wanted to impress its guests, putting many of their innovations on display for the world to see.

Unit Two Summary: Reverberations

Reverberations in this unit consisted of repetitions of revivals and reforms. Throughout history, over centuries and decades we see many revivals and reforms of past styles and civilizations.

We started this unit with regions + perspectives. The western world and the eastern world were very different in their points of views and perspectives. They each created “rules books” for what they believed design should be.

The Western rule book:

1. Revive the past using classical language. They said ‘No’ to gothic style and ‘Yes’ to ancient Greece and Rome styles.
2. Strive for harmony + order in all things
3. Layer groves + stacks when possible
4. Emphasize surface through materiality
5. Follow the Rules (proportioning system)
6. Place man at the center
7. Strive for position through patronage
8. Move forward the secular (not just religious) agenda
9. Get some perspective, not only vertical but horizontal exploration
10. Expand your physical world

With some similarities, but also differences, the Eastern rule book:

1. Maintain continuity with the past
2. Strive for harmony + order in all things
3. Continue to layer groves + stacks
4. Celebrate surface+ materiality (Kesava Temple, “Dancing Eye”)
5. Follow the Rules
6. Place community needs before your own
7. Strive for position through patronage
8. emphasize spiritual (not just religious) connections. (Individual shrines)
9. Sustain systems of representation
10. Expand your inner world. (Spiritually)

     The City of Venice, Italy is often called the “City of floating stone”. Andrea Palladio, a designer who has heavily influenced our designs still to this day, left his mark on the city of Venice. Much of his most renowned work is found there. The San Giorgio Magiore is a church on an island. Palladio designed the proportions for the person looking across the lagoon to make it appear correct to the eye. One of his most famous designs is the Villa Rotunda. The Villa Rotunda had four identical entrances, one on each of the four sides. Palladio took the main temple form, a sacred form to most civilizations prior and put them on regular house making them secular. In the Villa Rotunda, most of the work was done in the basement. The kitchen, food storage, and bathroom was all hidden underneath in the basement. The rest of the house was like a “party house”. There were many rooms to hold guests. Many people came from the crowded city to get fresh air in the country.


      Another one of Palladio’s work was the Villa Barbaro, built in 1560. This structure was very long and horizontal, unlike many of the building seen before this time. There was a strong symmetrical central axis. It was organized into three pavilions. ( a c b c a) Inside, the art was carved into the walls. The exterior is very plain but puts emphasize on important areas.


       In the colonial times, as our country was just starting to form, there was revival and reforms of styles. There was a huge revival of Grecian and roman styles within our political buildings as well as our homes. With exploration, new trade routes, and the industrial revolution, there was an expansion of new materials. There were materials being imported from all over the world. There was also a notion that if you could borrow from the Greeks and Romans, then you could borrow from anyone. There were no standards, many people were willing to “break the rules” and mix all kinds of styles.

Revival and Reform

Through the centuries of time, there has been a repetition of “revival” and “reform”. This occurs in so many different aspects of our lives, such as personally, socially, politically, globally, and also within design.

Within design, “revival” means a sense of rebirth of a certain style. In the early years of the Americas, there was a revival of the Grecian style within the architecture as well as a small revival of gothic style.

Also within design, “reform” means a way of changing things for the better, more purposeful or functional.

Sometimes there was a need to reform from a designer’s perspective because they only designed something for the surface and left out substance. The designs needed to be more functional and innovative rather than just looking neat.

In this time of the start of the industrial revolution, there was a high demand to make things in mass production. This was a shift in many new materials that could allow for things to be mass produced. There was also a global viewpoint on the world. Now there are more trade routes than ever, which brought many new materials and styles into the Americas. All of these things combined made designers reform their ideas. There was a notion that if you could borrow from Greek and Roman, you can borrow from anywhere.

Revolutionary Furnishings

Our country has a lot of rich history and design for only being around for just a little over two hundred years. Just like in all civilizations in history, their design ideas are derived from prior civilizations. It is interesting to see where our American design derives from.

In the colonial times, much of the design derived from the British and French. They used a lot of woods. Much of the wood was regional to the town or located it was being constructed. Some designs of the wooden chairs had intricate carvings or cutouts and the feet were clawed. The people in the colonial times took a lot of pride in their work and craft. Most homes did not have brand new furniture, most families used furniture for many generations. Probably due to the fact it was made so well, unlike some of our furniture today.

The interesting thing about the colonial design was how the design changed from prior to the American revolution and after. After the revolution, a lot of the furniture strayed away from the British design and solely focused on the preferences of the thirteen colonies.


As we see in the reading about the styles of homes In the 1600’s through the 1825, the styles evolve and seem to follow some sort of cycle. The three styles are Early (1640-1780), Georgian (1720-1780), and Federal (1790-1825). These styles were very popular throughout much of the east coast during these times but we also see some of these styles in our homes today.

One social revolution that is happening today would be the phenomenon of Facebook. This has not only taken our country by storm but the whole world. This is a whole new way of communication and interaction.

Some links to the design cycle would be:

Revolution- With Facebook there was a drastic change in social media. Facebook changed the way people interacted not only with their close friends, but now could maintain relationships with people across the world.

Revival- There was a renewal of interest with social interaction, everyone wanted to be “connected”.

Reformation- Also with Facebook, there was a change for the better. Now many future employers will look at people’s facebook pages to see if their character lives up to their company’s values and standards.

Cycle- Facebook is including in the social media cycle. First is started with MySpace, the Facebook, and now there are newer social medians such as twitter and Instagram. All of these things fall into the cycle, they are always changing and evolving.