About this Item
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Title: Pietro Belluschi. Modern american architect.
Publisher: MIT PRESS
Publication Date: 1994
Book Type: Ouvrage Neuf
About this title
Pietro Belluschi (1899-1994) was the last of a generation of architects that included Marcel Breuer, Jose Luis Sert, and Louis I. Kahn, European immigrants who had a major impact on American architecture. This first extensively illustrated study of his life and work brings to light a remarkably accomplished architect, recipient of the AIA Gold Medal and designer (by his own estimate) of well over 1,000 buildings and projects. It reveals the enormous power that Belluschi wielded as an arbiter of taste and decision maker in the 1950s and 1960s; his role in shaping the policy of the State Department in its overseas building program; and his role in securing major commissions for favored architects such as I. M. Pei. Equally important is Meredith Clausen's discussion of Belluschi's role in the development of regionalism in the Pacific Northwest, and its impact on the definition of modernism as it was emerging in the United States.
Clausen examines all aspects of Belluschi's long and productive career from his classical origins in Rome and the arts and crafts influences in the Pacific Northwest that helped shape his aesthetic, to the restrained, modernist houses and churches that comprised his early work; individual buildings like the startlingly modern Portland Art Museum of 1931 and the aluminum- clad Equitable (now Commonwealth) Building of 1948 that were at the cutting edge of progressive architecture; and the stores, shopping centers, and flush-surfaced glass and metal corporate towers that were the bread and butter of Belluschi's practice.
In this measured account, Clausen describes the collaboration with Walter Gropius on the massive Pan Am Building that, dogged by unpopular public sentiment, marked a downturn in Belluschi's career and the fortunes of modernism in general. By aligning himself with large-scale institutions and private developers, Clausen observes, Belluschi alienated both avant-garde theorists and aesthetic trend setters and was increasingly at odds with the temper of the times, a fall from grace that culminated in a well- publicized debate with Philip Johnson in the late 1970s over Michael Graves's design for the Public Services Building in Portland, Oregon.
Meredith L. Clausen is Professor of Architectural History at the University of Washington, Seattle. She is the author of Pietro Belluschi: Modern American Architect (MIT Press, 1999.)
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