Modern Industrial Buildings and Fairs

The pure functionalism of the factory and skyscraper designer gives way in the Cincinnati Union Terminal, by Fellheimer and Wagner, to the decorative functionalism which combines well-placed masses with steel construction, decorative sculpture, texture, color, and the rhythmic arrangement of accents. The terminal, perfectly designed with relation to the tracks of four railway systems, has a comfortable waiting room decorated with great mosaic murals of the city's various industries by Winold Reiss. The central steel half dome joining the waiting room to the city has a façade suggesting subtly by its lines the movement of the trains and the structure of the bridges on all the great systems it serves. Before the station, a fountain with colored lights terminates a central boulevard 1,000 yards long. On either side of this are being erected great municipal apartment houses. When finished, the entire group of buildings will form one of the most inspiring civic plans in the world, impressive as a monument to enlightened industrial democracy.

America's most advanced ideas in architectural construction have found their widest dissemination through a series of great industrial exhibitions or fairs, beginning with New York's Crystal Palace Fair of 1853 and the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia in 1876. In these early fairs a number of greenhouses constructed of glass and iron introduced Americans to the possibilities of metal construction such as that in Labrouste's Bibliothèque Sainte Geneviève and Paxton's London Crystal Palace.

The Columbian Exposition of 1893-1894, not only gave Sullivan an opportunity to show the excellence of his design, but even more strikingly, through its great "Hall of Science", copied after the French Hall of Science, impressed upon the people the possibilities in well-designed truss construction. That Chicago fair was still more important for its influence upon city planning. Its architects, many of whom had been trained in Paris, had an eye to vistas and placed their chief monuments at significant focal points. The system of parks that grew out of that exposition definitely benefited the city where it was held. Other expositions -in Buffalo, St. Louis, San Diego, and San Francisco -- gave many of the better known American architects opportunities to influence American taste.

The Chicago Century of Progress fair, in 1933, introduced many novel schemes of construction, most of which were too bizarre to be practical. The chief advantage to be gained from a study of this Chicago fair lay in the use of color in architecture and in the development of lighting effects, which began to play an increasingly extensive role in the design of buildings after 1930. The New York World of Tomorrow fair of 1939-1940 showed increasing skill in functional design and a renewed interest in group planning. The model city exhibit in the Perisphere unites the best of the practical suggestions resulting from the last fifty years of city planning. The contemporaneous Golden Gate Exposition at San Francisco, on the other hand, stressed highly decorated Pacific aboriginal and Indian styles.

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