Modern architecture has been criticized for emphasizing practical and technical issues at the expense of aesthetic concerns. The high-rise buildings constructed throughout the industrialized world in the 1960s and 1970s provide ample evidence that cost-efficiency and utility have became the overriding concerns of the modern architect. However, Otto Wagner’s seminal text on modern architecture, first published in Germany in 1896, indicates that the failure of modern architecture cannot be blamed on the ideals of its founders.
Wagner’s Modern Architecture called for a new style based on modern technologies and models of construction. He insisted that there could be no return to traditional, preindustrial models; only by accepting wholeheartedly the political and technological revolutions of the nineteenth century could the architect establish the forms appropriate to a modern, urban society. “All modern creation,” Wagner wrote, “must correspond to the new materials and demands of the present…must illustrate our own better, democratic, self-confident, ideal nature,” and must incorporate the new “colossal technical and scientific achievements” of the age. This would indeed seem to be the basis of a purely materialist definition of architecture, a prototype for the simplistic form-follows-function dogma that opponents have identified as the intellectual basis of modern architecture.
But the picture was more complex, for Wagner was always careful to distinguish between art and engineering. Ultimately, he envisaged (to have a mental picture of especially in advance of realization “envisages an entirely new system of education”) the architect developing the skills of the engineer without losing the powers of aesthetic judgment that Wagner felt were unique to the artist. “Since the engineer is seldom a born artist and the architect must learn as a rule to be an engineer, architects will in time succeed in extending their influence into the realm occupied by the engineers, so that legitimate aesthetic demands can be met in a satisfactory way.” In this symbiotic relationship essential to Modernism, art was to exercise the controlling influence.
No other prospect was imaginable for Wagner, who was firmly rooted as a designer and, indeed, as a teacher in the Classical tradition. The apparent inconsistency of a confessed Classicist advising against the mechanical imitation of historical models and arguing for new forms appropriate to the modern age created exactly the tension that made Wagner’s writings and buildings so interesting. While he justified, for example, the choice of a circular ground plan for churches in terms of optimal sight-lines and the technology of the gasometer, the true inspiration was derived from the centralized churches of the Italian Renaissance. He acknowledged as rationalist that there was no way back to the social and technological conditions that had produced the work of Michelangelo or Fischer von Erlach, but he recognized his emotional attachment to the great works of the Italian Renaissance and Austrian Baroque.
1. Which one of the following best expresses the main idea of the passage?
(A)Modern architecture has been criticized for emphasizing practical and technical issues and for failing to focus on aesthetic concerns.
(B)Critics have failed to take into account the technological innovations and aesthetic features that architects have incorporated into modern buildings.
(C)Wagner’s Modern Architecture provides architects with a chronicle of the origins of modern architecture.
(D)Wagner’s Modern Architecture indicates that the founders of modern architecture did not believe that practical issues should supersede the aesthetic concerns of the past.
(E)Wagner’s seminal text, Modern Architecture, provides the intellectual basis for the purely materialistic definition of modern architecture.
2. According to the passage, Wagner asserts which one of the following about the roles of architect and engineer?
(A)The architect should make decision about aesthetic issues and leave decision about technical matters to the engineers.
(B)The engineer has often developed the powers of aesthetic judgment previously thought to be unique to the architect.
(C)The judgment of the engineer should be as important as the judgment of the architect when decisions are made about aesthetic issues.
(D)The technical judgment of the engineer should prevail over the aesthetic judgment of the architect in the design of modern buildings.
(E)The architect should acquire the knowledge of technical matters typically held by the engineer.
3. The passage suggests that Wagner would be LEAST likely to agree with which one of the following statements about classical architecture and the modern architect?
(A)The modern architect should avoid the mechanical imitation of the models of the Italian Renaissance and Austrian Baroque.
(B)The modern architect cannot design buildings appropriate to a modern, urban society and still retain emotional attachments to the forms of the Italian Renaissance and Austrian Baroque.
(C)The modern architect should possess knowledge of engineering as well as of the architecture of the past.
(D)The modern architect should not base designs on the technological conditions that underlay the design of the models of the Italian Renaissance and Austrian Baroque.
(E)The designs of modern architects should reflect political ideals different from those reflected in the designs of classical architecture.
4. The passage suggests which one of the following about the quotations from Modern Architecture cited in the second paragraph?
(A)They represent the part of Wagner’s work that has had the least influence on the architects who designed the high-rise buildings of the 1960s and 1970s.
(B)They describe the part of Wagner’s work that is most often evoked by proponents of Wagner’s ideas on art and technology.
(C)They do not adequately reflect the complexity of Wagner’s ideas on the use of modern technology in architecture.
(D)They reflect Wagner’s active participation in the political revolutions of the nineteenth century.
(E)They provide an overview of Wagner’s ideas on the relationship between art and technology.
5. The author of the passage states which one of the following about the concerns of modern architecture?
(A)Cost-efficiency, utility, and aesthetic demands are the primary concerns of the modern architect.
(B)Practical issues supersede aesthetic concerns in the design of many modern buildings.
(C)Cost-efficiency is more important to the modern architects than are other practical concerns.
(D)The design of many new buildings suggests that modern architects are still inspired by architectural forms of the past.
(E)Many modern architects use current technology to design modern buildings that are aesthetically pleasing.
6. The author mentions Wagner’s choice of a “circular ground plan for churches” most likely in order to
(A)provide an example of the kinds of technological innovations Wagner introduced into modern architecture
(B)provide an example of Wagner’s dismissal of historical forms from Italian Renaissance
(C)provide an example of a modern building where technological issues were much less significant than aesthetic demands
(D)provide evidence of Wagner’s tendency to imitate Italian Renaissance and Austrian Baroque models
(E)provide evidence of the tension between Wagner’s commitment to modern technology and to the Classical tradition
7. The passage is primarily concerned with
(A)summarizing the history of a debate
(B)explaining a traditional argument
(C)describing and evaluating a recent approach
(D)justifying a recent criticism by presenting new evidence
(E)supporting an assertion by discussing an important work