Brutalism was a response to the glass curtain wall that was overtaking institutional and commercial architecture in the 1960s. The style originated in England but quickly expanded to other countries as it afforded an attractive and relatively inexpensive solution to weather and climate control conditions in large buildings, as well as a finish that was less vulnerable to vandalism. The 1960s and 1970s were years of great expansion in universities and public buildings, and this is where the Brutalist style is most often found. The development
By 1900, most architecture was reflecting a revival of some sort from pre-Victorian times, (see Period Revivals, Colonial Revival, Classical Revival, Gothic Revival). Like the Georgian and Regency Styles, Edwardian Classicism is associated with the reign of an English monarch. Edward VII, son of Queen Victoria, reigned between 1901 and 1910. The style is a precursor to the simplified styles of the 20th century.
Edwardian Classicism provides simple, balanced designs, straight rooflines, un-complicated ornament, and relatively
Inspired by the need for emergency housing after Hurricane Katrina, this cozy cottage took America by storm.
In 2005, many homes and communities along America’s Gulf Coast were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina and the floods that followed. Architects responded to the crisis by designing low-cost emergency shelters. The Katrina Cottage was a highly popular solution because its simple, traditional design suggested the architecture of a cozy turn-of-the-century house.
Also known as EcoShells, Monolithic Domes can survive tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, fire, and insects.
A Monolithic Dome is a one-peice structure made with concrete and rebar (ridged steel rods). The Monolithic Dome Institute uses the term EcoShells (Economical, Eco-Friendly and Thin-Shell) to describe the monolithic dome structures they developed.
The idea of constructing dome-shaped structures dates back to prehistoric times, but the development of modern concrete and steel
Unique, whimsical, and surprising, Postmodern houses give the impression that anything goes. The impossible is not only possible, but exaggerated.
Postmodern (or post-modern) architecture evolved from Modernism, yet it rebels against that style. Modernism is viewed as excessively minimalist, anonymous, monotonous, and boring. Postmodernism has a sense of humor. The style often combines two or more very different elements. A Postmodern house may combine traditional with invented forms or use
Contemporary homes are designed for today’s lifestyles with huge windows and large, open spaces. Some homes have flat roofs. Others have gabled roofs with cathedral ceilings and exposed beams
“Contemporary” describes a catch-all style that can take on many different shapes. A Contemporary home can have the quirkiness of Postmodernism, but it will not express the same kind of irony or humor you find in a Postmodern house. Some Neoeclectic homes are called
Details from Spain, Italy, and other Mediterranean countries combined with North American ideas to create contemporary Mediterranean or Neo-mediterranean homes.
Neo-mediterranean is a Neoeclectic house style that incoporates a fanciful mix of details suggested by the architecture of Spain, Italy, and Greece, Morocco, and the Spanish Colonies. Realtors often call Neo-mediterrean houses Mediterranean or Spanish.
Neo-mediterranean homes may resemble the much earlier Spanish Revival style.
Recent homes incorporate many styles. Architects and designers call this new stylistic mix Neoeclectic, or Neo-eclectic.
During the late 1960s, a rebellion against modernism and a longing for more traditional styles influenced the design of modest tract housing in North America. Builders began to borrow freely from a variety of historic traditions, offering Neoeclectic (or, Neo-eclectic) houses that were “customized” using a mixture of features selected from construction catalogs.
“Swiss Miss” houses combine the charm of a Swiss chalet with the tropical flavor of a Polynesian hut.
Swiss Miss is an informal name given to a variation of the A-Frame house style. Created by draftsman Charles Dubois, a Swiss Miss house resembles a Swiss chalet with tropical, Tiki details.
The Alexander Construction company built fifteen Swiss Miss houses in Palm Springs, California. Other firms built similar homes elsewhere in the United States, but Swiss Miss remained a
With a dramatic, sloping roof and cozy living quarters, an A-frame style house is ideal for wintery regions with lots of snow.
Triangular and tee-pee shaped homes date back to the dawn of time, but architect Andrew Geller turned an old idea into a revolutionary concept in 1957 when he built an “A-frame” house in Long Island, New York. Named for the distinctive shape of its roofline, Geller’s design won international attention when it was featured in the New York Times. Soon,
Real estate developers Robert and George Alexander captured the spirit of mid-century modernism, building more than 2,500 tract homes in southern California.
During the late 1950s and early 1960s, the George Alexander Construction Company partnered with several architects to develop a unique approach to tract housing. Although the company worked in and near Palm Springs, California, the houses they built were imitated across the United States.
The Alexander Construction Company gave
Fuller’s invention promised to provide affordable, energy-efficient housing for a troubled planet.
Developed by Buckminster Fuller in 1954, the Geodesic Dome was promoted as the world’s strongest, most economical, lightweight structure. The ingenious engineering of the geodesic dome allows it to cover a wide stretch of space without using internal supports. The geodesic dome design was patented in 1965.
Geodesic Domes are ideal for emergency housing and mobile shelters such
An Eichler House is essentially a one-story Ranch, but Eichler’s company reinvented the style, creating a revolutionary new approach to suburban tract housing.
Real estate developer Joseph Eichler brought a fresh, new modernist approach to affordable tract housing. Eichler Homes, constructed about 11,000 houses in California. Many other builders across the United States imitated the design ideas.
In Palm Springs, California, the Alexander Construction Company also pioneered
Made of steel coated with porcelain enamel, Lustron Homes were manufactured like cars and transported across the USA.
At the end of World War II, the United States didn’t have enough housing for the 12-million soldiers returning home. President Harry Truman pressured builders and suppliers to construct affordable housing. One of the most promising ventures was the Lustron Home by businessman and inventor Carl Strandlund. Vowing to mass-produce steel houses at the rate of 100 a day,
In this popular variation of the Ranch house style, a Split-Level Ranch has three or more levels.
A Split-Level Ranch is a Ranch Style house that is divided into several parts. One section is lowered and one section is raised.
Split-level design reflects an approach popularized by American architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Wright believed that houses with “half floors” would blend naturally with the landscape. Living areas could be separated from private areas by just a few
A traditional Ranch Style house is only one story, but a Raised Ranch raises the roof to provide extra living space.
In this variation, the home has two stories. The lower story is at ground level or partially submerged below grade. From the main entrance, a full flight of stairs leads to the main living areas on the upper level.
The Raised Ranch style has been adapted to take on a variety of forms. Neo-Mediterranean, Neo-Colonial, and other contemporary styles are often applied to the
One-story Ranch Style homes are so simple some critics say they have no style. Known as American Ranch, Western Ranch, or California Rambler, Ranch Style houses can be found in nearly every part of the United States.
The earth-hugging Prairie Style houses pioneered by Frank Lloyd Wright and the informal Bungalow styles of the early 20th century paved the way for the popular Ranch Style.
After World War II, real estate developers turned to the simple, economical Ranch Style to meet the
With the sleek appearance of a modern machine, Art Moderne – or, Streamline Moderne – houses expressed the spirit of a technological age.
The sleek Art Moderne style originated in the Bauhaus movement, which began in Germany. Bauhaus architects wanted to use the principles of classical architecture in their purest form, designing simple, useful structures without ornamentation or excess. Building shapes were based on curves, triangles, and cones. Bauhaus ideas spread worldwide and
French Eclectic homes combine a variety of influences from the architecture of France.
After World War I, soldiers returning to the United States and Canada brought a keen interest in French housing styles. Building plan books and home magazines began to feature modest homes inspired by French building traditions. Grand homes were constructed with a fanciful mix of French details.
French Normandy House Style: Borrows ideas from Normandy, where barns were attached to the living quarters.
Because they are built with adobe, Pueblo homes are sometimes called Adobes. Modern Pueblos are inspired by homes used by Native Americans since ancient times.
Since ancient times, Pueblo Indians built large, multi-family houses, which the Spanish called pueblos (villages). In the 17th and 18th centuries, the Spanish made their own Pueblo homes, but they adapted the style. They formed the adobe into sun-dried building blocks. After stacking the blocks, the Spaniards covered them with protective
California Bungalows, Craftsman Bungalows, and Chicago Bungalows were variations of an affordable housing type that swept across America.
The Bungalow is an all American housing type, but it has its roots in India. In the province of Bengal, single-family homes were called bangla or bangala. British colonists adapted these one-story thatch-roofed huts to use as summer homes. The space-efficient floor plan of bungalow houses may have also been inspired by army tents and rural
From cozy bungalows to sprawling Prairie houses, many American homes were shaped by Craftsman ideas.
During the 1880s, John Ruskin, William Morris, Philip Webb, and other English designers and thinkers launched the Arts and Crafts Movement, which celebrated handicrafts and encouraged the use of simple forms and natural materials. In the United States, two California brothers, Charles Sumner Greene and Henry Mather Green, began to design houses that combined Arts and Crafts ideas with a
The Foursquare style, sometimes called the Prairie Box, can be found in nearly every part of the United States.
The American Foursquare, or the Prairie Box, was a post-Victorian style that shared many features with the Prairie architecture pioneered by Frank Lloyd Wright. The boxy foursquare shape provided roomy interiors for homes on small city lots. The simple, square shape also made the Foursquare style especially practical for mail order house kits from Sears and other catalog
Frank Lloyd Wright revolutionized the American home when he began to design “Prairie” style houses with low horizontal lines and open interior spaces.
Frank Lloyd Wright believed that rooms in Victorian era homes were boxed-in and confining. He began to design houses with low horizontal lines and open interior spaces. Rooms were often divided by leaded glass panels. Furniture was either built-in or specially designed. These homes were called prairie style after Wright’s 1901
Historic mission churches built by Spanish colonists inspired the turn-of-the-century house style known as Mission, Spanish Mission, or California Mission.
Celebrating the architecture of Hispanic settlers, Mission Revival style houses usually have arched dormers and roof parapets. Some resemble old Spanish mission churches with bell towers and elaborate arches.
The earliest Mission style homes were built in California, USA. The style spread eastward, but most Spanish Mission homes are
With roots in the pastoral Cotswold region of England, the picturesque Cotswold Cottage style may remind you of a cozy storybook house.
Other names for the Cotswold Cottage style: Storybook Style, Hansel and Gretel Cottage, Tudor Cottage, English Country Cottage, Ann Hathaway Cottage.
The small, fanciful Cotswold Cottage is a popular subtype of the Tudor Revival house style. This quaint English country
Heavy chimneys and decorative half-timbering give Tudor style houses a Medieval flavor. The Tudor style is sometimes called Medieval Revival.
The name Tudor suggests that these houses were built in the 1500s, during the Tudor Dynasty in England. But of course, Tudor houses in the United States are modern-day re-inventions and are more accurately called Tudor Revival or Medieval Revival. Some Tudor Revival houses mimic humble Medieval cottages
Combining classical Greek and Roman architecture with Renaissance ideas, Beaux Arts was a favored style for grand public buildings and opulent mansions.
The Beaux Arts (French for “fine art”) style originated in the École des Beaux Arts in Paris. Many American architects studied at this legendary architectural school, where they learned about the aesthetic principles of classical design and brought them to the United States.
Also known as Beaux Arts Classicism, Academic
Neoclassical, or “new” classical, architecture describes buildings that are inspired by the classical architecture of ancient Greece and Rome.
The word Neoclassical is often used to describe an architectural style, but Neoclassicism is not actually any one distinct style. Neoclassicism is a trend, or approach to design, that can describe several very different styles.
Expressing American patriotism and a return to classical architectural styles, Colonial Revival became a standard style in the 20th century.
Colonial Revival became a popular American house style after it appeared at the 1876 the US Centennial Exposition. Reflecting American patriotism and a desire for simplicity, the Colonial Revival house style remained popular until the mid-1950′s. Between World War I and II, Colonial Revival was the most popular historic revival house style in the
Rustic Shingle Style houses shunned Victorian fussiness.
Shingle Style houses can take on many forms. Some have tall turrets, suggestive of Queen Anne architecture. Some have gambrel roofs, Palladian windows, and other Colonial Revival details. Some Shingle houses have features borrowed from Tudor, Gothic and Stick styles. But, unlike those styles, Shingle architecture is relaxed and informal. Shingle houses do not have the lavish decorations that were popular during the Victorian
Richardsonian Romanesque, or Romanesque Revival, houses have broad Roman arches and massive stone walls.
During the 1870s, Boston architect Henry Hobson Richardson captured the American imagination with rugged, forceful buildings like Allegheny Courthouse in Pittsburgh and Trinity Church in Boston. These buildings were called “Romanesque” because they had wide, rounded arches like buildings in ancient Rome. Henry Hobson Richardson became so famous for his Romanesque designs that the
Fanciful Victorian houses lavished with Eastlake style spindlework.
A colorful Victorian style with lacy, ornamental details is called Eastlake. The ornamental style is named after the famous English designer, Charles Eastlake, who was famous for making furniture decorated with fancy spindles.
Eastlake details can be found on a variety of Victorian house styles. Some of the more fanciful Stick Style Victorians have Eastlake buttons and knobs combined with
America’s fanciful Queen Anne architecture takes on many shapes.
The romantic style known as Queen Anne became an architectural fashion in the USA during the 1880s and 1890s, when the industrial revolution brought new technologies. Builders began to use mass-produced pre-cut architectural trim to create fanciful and sometimes flamboyant houses.
Not all Queen Anne houses are lavishly decorated, however. Some builders showed restraint in their use of embellishments. Still, the flashy
Plain folk could afford these simple North American homes.
Life was simple before the age of railroads. In the vast, remote stretches of North America, families built no-fuss, square or L-shaped houses in the National or Folk style. But the rise of industrialization made it easier and more affordable to add decorative details to otherwise simple homes. Decorative architectural trim could be mass produced. As the railroads expanded, factory-made building parts could be sent to far corners of the
Long and narrow, shotgun houses are made to fit small city building lots.
Shotgun houses have been built since the time of the Civil War. The economical style became popular in many southern towns, especially New Orleans.
There are a few theories why these houses were called Shotgun:
If you fire a shotgun through the front door, the bullets will fly straight out through the back door.
Some shotgun houses were constructed from packing crates that once held shotgun shells.
Stick Style Victorian houses have exposed trusses, “stickwork,” and other details borrowed from medieval times.
The most important features of Stick Style houses are on the exterior wall surfaces, which are ornamented with “stickwork,” or decorative half-timbering. The house also has brackets, rafters, and braces. These details are not necessary structurally. They are decorations that imitated architecture from the medieval past. Instead of three-dimensional
With tall mansard roofs and wrought iron cresting, Second Empire homes create a sense of height.
Second Empire buildings with tall mansard roofs were modeled after the the opulent architecture of Paris during the reign of Napoleon III. French architects used the term horror vacui – the fear of unadorned surfaces – to describe the highly ornamented Second Empire style. Second Empire buildings were also practical: their height allowed for additional living space on narrow city
A fascination for the architecture of Renaissance Europe and the villas of Andrea Palladio inspired elegant Renaissance Revival homes.
Renaissance (French for “rebirth”) refers to the artistic, architectural, and literary movement in Europe between the 14th and 16th centuries. The Renaissance Revival style is based on the architecture of 16th-century Renaissance Italy and France, with additional elements borrowed from Ancient Greek and Roman architecture. Renaissance Revival is a
Italianate became the most popular housing style in Victorian America. Italianate is also known as the Tuscan, the Lombard, or simply, the bracketed style.
The Italianate style began in England with the picturesque movement of the 1840s. For the previous 200 years, English homes tended to be formal and classical in style. With the picturesque, movement, however, builders began to design fanciful recreations of Italian Renaissance villas. When the Italianate style moved to the United States, it
Builders borrowed church-like details to construct affordable wooden versions of the Gothic Revival style.
The earliest Gothic Revival homes were constructed of stone and brick. The Gothic Revival style imitated the great cathedrals and castles of Europe. However, few people could afford to build grand masonry homes in the Gothic Revival style. In the United States, The ready availability of lumber and factory-made architectural trim lead to a distinctly American version of Gothic Revival.
Medieval cathedrals inspired impressive homes made of stone.
Gothic Revival was a Victorian style that borrowed details from Gothic cathedrals and other medieval architecture. Gothic Revival homes in England were most frequently constructed of masonry. In the United States, some large, lavish estates were also made with stone or brick. These homes often resembled medieval churches or castles.
Few people could afford to build a masonry home in the Gothic Revival or High Gothic revival
With details reminiscent of the Parthenon, stately, pillared Greek Revival homes reflect a passion for antiquity.
In the mid-19th century, many prosperous Americans believed that ancient Greece represented the spirit of democracy. Interest in British styles had waned during the bitter War of 1812. Also, many Americans sympathized with Greece’s own struggles for independence in the 1820s.
Greek Revival architecture began with public buildings in Philadelphia. Many European-trained
Graceful details distinguish Federal homes from the pragmatic Georgian colonial style.
Like much of America’s architecture, the Federal (or Federalist) style has its roots in the British Isles. Two Scottish brothers named Adam adapted the pragmatic Georgian style, adding swags, garlands, urns, and other delicate details. In the American colonies, homes and public buildings also took on graceful airs. Inspired by the work of the Adam brothers and also by the great temples of ancient Greece
Spacious and comfortable, Georgian Colonial architecture reflected the rising ambition of a new country.
Georgian Colonial became the rave in New England and the Southern colonies during the 1700′s. Stately and symmetrical, these homes imitated the larger, more elaborate Georgian homes which were being built in England. But the origin of the style goes back much farther. During the reign of King George I in the early 1700′s, and King George III later in the century, Britons drew
The Cape Cod style originated in colonial New England. Today, the term refers to Cape Cod-shaped houses popular during the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s.
The first Cape Cod style homes were built by English colonists who came to America in the late 17th century. They modeled their homes after the half-timbered houses of England, but adapted the style to the stormy New England weather. Over the course of a few generations, a modest, one- to one-and-a-half-story house with wooden shutters