Science and History Banham versus Rowe [Saarinen on the MIT Campus]

Luis Rojo de Castro

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In the decade of 1950’s, the MIT relied on architecture as the vehicle for expressing the modernization and the updating of the academic program  of the institution. And with the strategic choice of Eero Saarinen for the job, a link was established with the new image of the technological corporations of the post-war economy (IBM, Bell, General Motors, John Deere, etc.) Timing, program, location and architect constitute the strategic parts of a carefully calibrated plan.
However, what neither Saarinen nor MIT did foresee was the difficulty for  the integration of humanism and science in a coherent and stable  architectural image, precisely in the 1950’s. The integration of such  confronted paradigms, characterized within architecture discipline as the opposition between the operational lore and technological advances led to  a long and thorough debate only to be somehow concluded by 1975 with  the ephemeral and temporary victory of the arguments of tradition. A  controversy between two diverse however distinctive architectural  components, confronted by Modernism in a skewed debate from both sides  and, by 1950, made explicit in the differences between Reyner Banham’s and Colin Rowe’s writings. Their conflicting arguments,  contemporary to the Chapel and Kresge Auditorium, provide the critical  context in which to inscribe Saarinen’s buildings and the wide international controversy they triggered.

Palabras clave

Science, technological development, History, humanism, Eero Saarinen, Reyner Banham, Colin Rowe

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