As the Modern Movement evolved, architects continued to use abstraction as an effective tool. Frank Lloyd Wright, who criticized the austerity of the Modern Movement, found himself on the same team-though he’d have been hard pressed to admit it. His white stucco Guggenheim Museum is a collage of abstract form: austere circles, rectangles, curves, and spirals. Frank Wallace, a futurist, created the Learning Resource Center at Oral Roberts University in 1965. Its facade appears to be an abstraction of the Parthenon colonnade. Edward Durell Stone did the same with his Kennedy Center in 1971.
In 1854 a man stood on a platform in New York’s Crystal Palace built for the Great Exhibition. He ordered a suspending rope cut to a platform upon which he stood, but to everyones amazement, the platform remained suspended. The man’s name was Elisha Otis. And although the elevator wasn’t new, the safety feature was. It was an Innovation built to save lives, not just cargo, and it changed the world forever. So, while the advent of abstraction and a new aesthetic paradigm was a force for change in the 20th century, innovation has always been a part of architecture.
The flying buttress was first used at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris. The innovation reduce the size of massive stone walls which allowed more light to flood a cathedral’s interior. Hundreds of years later Antonio Sant’Elia was imagining his own secular cathedrals of the future and inspiring future architects like John Lautner or Cesar Pelli. Le Corbusier re-thought form and Richard Neutra organized space with steel. Charles and Ray Eames made buildings that look like paintings and Paul Rudolph used concrete in demonstrative new ways.