Styles of Architecture

Postmodern architecture style in Buffalo
Alternate Postmodern spellings: Post Modern, Post-Modern
Late 20th Century

Architecture of the late 20th century, especially 1975-2000, that consciously uses complex forms, fantasy, and allusions to historic styles, in contrast to the austere forms and emphasis on utility of standard modern architecture.

TEXT Beneath Illustrations

2016 Photos
Children's Hospital (Bryant Street)

Children's Hospital (Bryant Street)

Children's Hospital (Bryant Street)
Postmodern classical features (top down): Cornice  ...  Frieze with decorative round windows   ...  Stringcourse  ...  Segmental arch ...  Brick pillars that reference banded columns  ... Color

"In my opinion the entry pavilion at Children's Hospital is the best post-modern building in Buffalo."- Anthony O. James, architect

William Hengerer Company / Lafayette Court
465 Main Street

William Hengerer Company / Lafayette Court

William Hengerer Company / Lafayette Court
 Postmodern features: Tower with gable roof  ... Clock  ...   Arches  ...  Color

William Hengerer Company / Lafayette Court
 Postmodern features:  Entrance stylized pilasters ...   Bay windows

Perry Homes Extension
254 Perry Street

 Perry Homes Extension
Postmodern features:  Gable roof  ...  Color

Buffalo Bisons Baseball Stadium

Buffalo Bisons Baseball Stadium

Postmodern features:  Arches and columns are a clear reference to Roman  colosseums

Key Center at Fountain Plaza

Key Center at Fountain Plaza

Key Center at Fountain Plaza
Postmodern features:  Step gable pyramidal roofs  ...  Color

Burt Flickinger Athletic Center

Burt Flickinger Athletic Center

Postmodern  features:   Cornice  ...  Frieze  ... Segmental arch  ...  Transom window

Postmodern  features: Bright red trusses with an arched bottom chord used decoratively ...  Color

1983 Goldome Addition

Postmodern  features:  Rounded windows  ...   Columns  ...  Rustication
City Centre

Postmodern  features:  Broken pediment   ...  Balconies ... Stringcourse  ... Colored glass
US Post Office
229 West Genesee St.

Postmodern  features:  Gable roof  ...  King post  ...  Color   ....  Stringcourse

Sabres Arena

Postmodern  features:  Bas-relief sculpture of a hockey goalie   ...   Color

Postmodern  feature:  A sailing ship's "crow's nest" is part of the waterfront motif that is found on the exterior and in the interior

Hyatt Regency-Buffalo

Postmodern  features: Shed roofs    ...   color

Postmodern  features: Shed roofs    ...   Color   ...   Pillars

Barnes & Hengerer Building

Postmodern  features:  Color   ...   Fanlight   ...   Ancones   ...   Pilasters

Light Rail Rapid Transit System
Dedicated 1985

Bridge between AM&A's and the Main Place Mall
Postmodern  features:  Color   ...  Compound arch

Outside of Buffalo:

Postmodern Style

Post Modernists indirectly imitate many historical styles, ... use ornament and often mix various styles and periods from different cultures.
- Lester Walker, American Homes: The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Domestic Architecture, 1981, p. 304
A reaction to the Modern style was Postmodernism which developed in the 1950s. It reintroduces color and symbolism
to architecture, replacing the aggressively unornamented modern styles. A prime example of inspiration for postmodern architecture lies along the Las Vegas Strip. Postmodern architects often regard modern spaces as soulless and bland, and instead sees exuberance in the use of building techniques, angles, and stylistic references.
- James Stevens Curl, The Egyptian Revival: Glossary - Capitals  (2005)
Saylor Academy: Postmodern Architecture    (online 2016)

One building form that typifies the explorations of Postmodernism is the traditional gable roof, in place of the iconic flat roof of modernism. Shedding water away from the center of the building, such a roof form always served a functional purpose in climates with rain and snow, and was a logical way to achieve larger spans with shorter structural members, but it was nevertheless relatively rare in modern houses.

A vivid example of this new approach was that Postmodernism saw the comeback of columns and other elements of premodern designs, sometimes adapting classical Greek and Roman examples (but not simply recreating them, as was done in neoclassical architecture). In Modernism, the traditional column (as a design feature) was treated as a cylindrical pipe form, replaced by other technological means such as cantilevers, or masked completely by curtain wall facades. The revival of the column was an aesthetic, rather than a technological, necessity.

Roots of Postmodernism

The Postmodernist movement began in America around the 1960s - 1970s and then it spread to Europe and the rest of the world, to remain right through to the present. The aims of Postmodernism or Late-modernism begin with its reaction to Modernism; it tries to address the limitations of its predecessor. The list of aims is extended to include communicating ideas with the public often in a then humorous or witty way. Often, the communication is done by quoting extensively from past architectural styles, often many at once.

Many felt the buildings failed to meet the human need for comfort both for body and for the eye, that modernism did not account for the desire for beauty. The problem worsened when some already monotonous apartment blocks degenerated into slums. In response, architects sought to reintroduce ornament, color, decoration and human scale to buildings.
What is Postmodernist Architecture?
Excerpt from Encyclopedia of Art and Design: American Architecture  (online June 2016)

[Jane] Jacobs and [Robert] Venturi were catalysts for a wave of opposition to Modernism, but they didn't invent "Postmodernism".  The term was actually coined by the American theorist Charles Jenks in his book The Language of Post-Modern Architecture (1977), which describes the architectural tendencies that sprang up in the 60s in opposition to the dominant dictates of rationalist modernism.

The point was, modern architecture had excluded traditional historic forms as well as decorative elements from its repertory. Postmodernism wanted to "rehumanize" architecture by using a mixture of styles, including features taken from classical designs as well as those from popular culture.

Playful irony, plus occasional surprises, even shocks, have all been an essential part of the postmodernist approach to building design. After all, basic features of architecture, like columns, arches, and tympana, often lose their original meaning when used out of context - say, as decorative elements.
Postmodern architecture elements that link with past languages of architecture and historicist recollections:

Arches  ...  Columns  ...  Base, shaft, capital  ...  Domes  (Roman and derivatives) ...   Colonnade  ...  Pediments  ...  Broken pediments (Michaelangelo) ...  Arcade  ...  Triumphal arch  ...  Keystone    ...   Grand public staircase  ...   Asymmetrical (Queen Anne)  ...  Pitched roof (Gothic)  ...  Stringcourse  ...  Lunette window  ...  Palladian window  ... Setbacks (Art Deco)   ...  Bow window  ...  Local vernaculars  ...  Strong reds, yellows, blues, oranges  ...  Parapet  ...  Flowerburst   ...  Quoins  ...  Balconies  ...  Crow steps  ...  Stepped motif
- Culled from Charles Jencks, "Architecture Today," 1988, Harry N. Abrams, Inc.

Consultant:  Anthony 0. James, architect, in 2016

Photos and their arrangement 2010-2017 Chuck LaChiusa
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