The Engineers Aesthetic and Architecture

Behrens seems to have influenced Kahn’s design for the Ford Highland Park factory. In France, Auguste Choisy, Auguste Perret, and Tony Garnier revolted against the eclecticism of nineteenth-century architectural practice, proposing instead to apply classical geometry and clarity to the new building materials so as to achieve structural coherence. French architects were the world pioneers in the use of reinforced concrete made with cement–a new compound patented in 1824 and industrially produced after 1845. Other similar ideas, trends, and suggestions to follow the new spirit of technology and engineering were also emerging elsewhere in Europe at this time. One could argue that it was not surprising that these radical avant-garde modernists would engage in colorful rhetoric so as to liberate themselves from the chains of tradition, bolster their creativity, and attract attention, but there was much more than creative thirst or rhetorical fluff in modernism. The avant-garde modernists not only glorified the beauty of industry and the mechanical in their writings and architectural works but also endorsed and used the new scientific methods of labor management and organization originally developed in the United States at the turn of the century. The similarities between the techniques used by the scientific managers and by the avant-garde modernists are stunning–and troubling.
(Adler, P. S., and Winograd, T. A, 55-67)
European modernism did not arrive at an entirely novel approach to architecture and design until the 1920s, with the Bauhaus in Germany, Constructivism in the Soviet Union, Rationalism in Italy, and Purism in France. It was at this point that European architects made their revolutionary reinterpretation of scientific management in aesthetic terms. Walter Gropius, the founder of the Bauhaus school of art and architecture in Germany, was a firm believer in scientific management methods and became one of the most influential architects of the twentieth century.