Technology and functionalism predominantly influenced design in the late 20th century, also known as the Modern period. Largely as a result of World War II, new technology and advances in the steel and concrete industries allowed for better methods of structural framing and increased spanning capabilities. In addition, increasing mass production and rapid transport of materials resulted in a more unified architecture nationwide.
Nationally, the International style became popular in commercial and civic architecture, emphasizing functional buildings that were machine-made and devoid of historical referents and ornamentation. "Glass boxes" were produced throughout the urban centers of America, constructed with a curtain wall of glass stretched over a steel structural system (Handbook of Texas Online, s.v. "Architecture," February 2005). Renowned architects such as Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Louis I. Kahn and Philip Johnson designed modern buildings in Texas during this period, including the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, designed by Kahn in 1969. Many of these buildings reflected the "less is more," or functionalist, approach to architecture of the Modern period.
In residential building, mass production and rapid transport of materials facilitated the spread of tract housing, whereby homes were designed by building contractors rather than architects, and duplicated throughout large suburban areas. In contrast, Texas architect O'Neil Ford's designs during this period emphasized indigenous building combined with arts and crafts elements. His efforts include the Little Chapel in the Woods in Denton, the Texas Instruments Semiconductor building in Dallas, and Trinity University in San Antonio (Alexander Architectural Archive, s.v. "O'Neil Ford," February 2005).
Eventually, Modernism's lack of ornamentation and functionalist designs gave way to an architectural style based on historical precedents in the Postmodern era.
Handbook of Texas Online, s.v. "Architecture" http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/view/AA/cmask.html (accessed January 17, 2005).
O'Neil Ford, the Alexander Architectural Archive, University of Texas Libraries, University of Texas at Austin.
Preston M. Geren, the Alexander Architectural Archive, University of Texas Libraries, University of Texas at Austin.