“Industrial Revolution is the period of major industrialization that took place during the late 1700s and early 1800s.” Britain was the ‘mother’ of the Industrial Revolution. During that period Britain was making great strides in the innovation of new materials such as the development of superior steel, cast iron and glass. For a time, this gave Britain the advantage over most ‘advanced’ countries in development, mostly as it relates to construction. There were also great developments in the field of agriculture, manufacturing and power generation. This sensation of development quickly spread worldwide and had a changing effect on culture, economics and social idealism. Most importantly, the Industrial Revolution completely metamorphosized the architecture world. It opened new doors for designing which led to the Modern Architecture movement today.
The first sign of a new architectural era was seen in Britain. With the production of new materials, Sir Joseph Paxton was able to design the Crystal Palace (1850-1851, 1852-1854) which boasted an intricate lattice frame work of prefabricated iron and glass panels set into wooden frames. The Crystal Palace served as a greenhouse with an impressive square footage of 770,000, the largest structure within its time. This structure was a monumental one and exhibits Britain’s advancement in the development of superior steel.
European countries were not at the same stage of steel production as that of the British. Therefore, their steel productions were not as superior. However, in response to the British, French inventors developed light weight truss known as the Polonceau in 1837. In addition there was the development of forged iron and milled steel. This opened a myriad of opportunities for the Europeans. Alexandre Gustave Eiffel, French architect and engineer, designed the Eiffel Tower for the 1889 Exhibition in Paris. The tower showcases the French mastery in this new construction technology they have developed. The tower is over 1000 feet high; a very tall structure for its time. It stands on four large arched legs and its beautiful iron lattice work expands up into the sky.
However, every great change in society was opposed in some way or another and this new architectural development was no different. Not everyone was keen with this new technological feat. In the case of the Eiffel Tower, some architects and artists criticized the work and went as far as to call it the “blackness of industry” and considered it to be an eye sore in their ‘beautiful’ city. Architects like Charles Garnier and Henry Hobson Richardson shied away from the growing industrialized industry and focused more on developing traditional themes. This was seen in their works; the Paris Opera (1861-1875) of Neoclassic style and Boston’s grandiose Trinity House (1872-1877) respectively.
In spite of criticisms, the need for the new Industrial Revolution architecture was growing and heavily ornamented buildings were becoming less...