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Article

Robert Buerglener

[motor car]

Architecture and the automobile have been intimately connected since the late 19th century. The attributes of cars required specific architectural solutions for manufacture, sales, and service. On a broader level, the overall built environment was forever changed by roadside structures designed to meet the needs of drivers.

Automobile factories evolved in tandem with mass production; modular form and open floor spaces provided flexibility in machine placement and possibilities for expansion as production needs changed. Detroit-based architect Albert Kahn, with his associate Ernest Wilby (1868–1957), set a new standard for 20th-century industrial buildings through innovative use of space and materials. For the Packard Company’s Building Number Ten (Detroit, 1905; enlarged 1909), Kahn used reinforced concrete to create modular bays, repeatable horizontally and vertically, with wide interior spans and large window surfaces. For Ford’s Highland Park factory (begun 1909; see fig.), Kahn designed a multi-building complex of reinforced concrete and steel-framed buildings that housed machinery strategically in the sequence of production. In Ford’s River Rouge manufacturing complex in Dearborn, MI (...

Article

Sara Stevens

A category of buildings designed to house retail and shopping. It includes arcades, department stores, shopping malls, strip centres, and big-box stores. Retail architecture exists in small towns, big cities, and suburbs: anywhere people congregate. It is as ubiquitous in time and space as the organized exchange of goods for money. It is distinguished from commercial architecture, which, in real estate and architectural practice, can refer more generally to any property that produces income for its investors or owners but does not refer to a building’s architectural function (i.e. retail).

Buildings housing commercial activity have existed since antiquity. Anthropologists have described exchange halls and commercial structures in many cultures, including Roman, Aztec, Tang dynasty China, and Mesopotamian. During the medieval and Renaissance periods, market halls and exchanges were built in cities such as Antwerp, Bruges, London, and Venice, sheltering trading activities at ground level and municipal government functions above (...