International Style. Bauhaus. “The Architecture of the Machine Age”. The birthplace of midcentury modernism. An architectural style born of the social, political and philosophical trappings of and age, and rapidly transformed the face of civilization and it’s cities, neighborhoods, and homes. To this day, these structures look impressively modern, but their concept has stood the test of time, spanning over 50 years of architectural theory.


Bauhaus was born as a rejection of the European emphasis on eclectic buildings rife with ornamental features that dominated the 1920’s and 30’s. The birth of the Industrial era made a whole new set of building materials available – concrete, steel and glass – and architects began to favor more utilitarian designs. Before long, the International Style became a symbol of social and industrial progress and resonated with leftist political groups. Faced with opposition from the totalitarian regimes of a 1930’s Europe, leading proponents fled to America where economic expansion allowed the style to flourish. Many of the most iconic buildings in America were the first constructions of Bauhaus in the Americas.


In their construction, International Style structures are typified by rectangular designs with flat roofs and smooth, untextured surfaces. They have a “weightless” quality, as if parts are floating, and are made from utilitarian materials. On the inside, they have open floor plans, floor-to-ceiling windows, multiple stories and a continuation of the use of exterior materials.

Bauhaus was the result of a metamorphic age in human history and continues to shape modern architecture to this day. The most famous architects and structures built in the last century are standing icons and testaments to an age where this art form questioned what it meant to dwell. Learn more about this transformative period in architectural history here and here, and enjoy images of the some of the iconic examples of the International Style below.

(Museum of Modern Art, New York City)

(Willis [Sears] Tower, Chicago Illinois)

Marisa Swenson

Modern Homes Portland


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