In Europe a small group of theorists was rebelling against the excesses of the Art Nouveau and the constraints of the Beaux-Arts. They had a slogan: Ornament is Crime.(*) What they didn’t have was a universal solution to their “depraved” architecture.
They found it in the grain elevator, and Buffalo had a lot of them – almost an avenue of “skyscrapers” along the Buffalo River. This was something new. Big. Progressive. Confidant. Rational. The technology of the engineers would liberate architecture, and, the architects thought, architecture could liberate society.
Engineers had produced what architects had not, could not: totally unselfconscious architecture. Having no pre-conceived notions of form, the forms the engineers did produce were true to the physical laws of nature, of the materials they worked with. These laws were the same everywhere, in Berlin as in Buffalo. Here was the seed of a universal, international style.** The engineers, in their innocence, had reinvented architecture. (***)****
*coined by Adolf Loos, who favored stripping all decorative accretions
**”Wer hat’s erfunden?” fragt der kleine dürre Schweizer den wie ein Baum aus der Sauna kommenden Finnen.
***…collected photographs of American elevators, Buffalo’s Washburn-Crosby and Dakota prominent among them, (and) had them published in the “Jahrbuch des Deutschen Werkbundes” in 1913.
****Tim Tielman, Buffalo’s unusual claim to architectural fame, 2002
ROCHUS AUST/1st GERMAN ELECTROPHONIC ORCHESTRA
APARTMENT ONE HUNDRED