10 Striking Examples Of Modernism Architecture Designed By Master Architects

The modernism architecture, or modern-era architecture was born in western Europe in the 1920s from the precedent breaking work of modernist architects like Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius and Mies van der Rohe in Germany and Le Corbusier in France.

Modernist architecture breaks away from cookie-cutter design and traditional aesthetics; it is the pure simplified, unornamented building styles of the late 19th and the 20th centuries. The building style is also known by many other labels, like New Objectivity, and Functionalism.

Chet Holifield Federal Building

1. Chet Holifield Federal Building in Laguna Niguel, California

  • Architects: William L. Pereira & Associates
  • Built: 1968-1971
  • Architecture style: sixties modern
  • Primary materials:  pre-cast concrete Panels
  • Most prominent features: tiered pyramid form; weighty massiveness; recessed windows; huge 92-acre landscaped site

Modernist architecture characteristics, the Chet Holifield Federal Building in Laguna Niguel, California

 2. Byron G. Rogers Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in Denver, CO

  • Architects: James Sudler Associates; Fisher & Davis
  • Built: 1962-1965
  • Architecture style: formalism
  • Primary materials: pre-cast concrete panels and marble
  • Most prominent features: 18-story tower; low courthouse; providing public art; landscaped plaza


Modernism architecture is about efficiency, simplicity, and modern building materials.

 Modernism architecture Robert C. Weaver Federal Building

 3. Robert C. Weaver Federal Building in Washington, DC

  • Architect: Marcel Breuer
  • Built: 1965-1968
  • Architecture style: expressionism
  • Primary material: reinforced concrete
  • Prominent Features: Sweeping form; load-bearing, precast wall units designed plaza

 Everett M. Dirksen U.S. Courthouse Modernist architecture philosophy

4. Everett M. Dirksen U.S. Courthouse in Chicago, IL

  • Architects: Ludwig Mies van der Rohe; Schmidt, Garden and Erikson; C. F. Murphy Associates; A. Epstein and Sons
  • Built: 1960-1974
  • Architecture style: international style
  • Primary materials: steel and bronze-tinted glass
  • Most prominent features: striking glass tower; open colonnades at tower bases


Modernism architecture was an attempt to do new things in new ways, with new materials.

 American modernism architecture - John F. Kennedy Federal Building

 5. John F. Kennedy Federal Building in Boston, MA

  • Architects: Walter Gropius and “The Architects Collaborative” with Samuel Glaser
  • Built: 1963-1966
  • Architecture style: sixties modern
  • Primary materials: reinforced concrete, steel and glass
  • Most prominent features: monolithic towers; landscaped plaza; presentation of public art

 Realism architecture - Richard Bolling Federal Building

 6. Richard Bolling Federal Building in Kansas City, MO

  • Architects: Voskamp and Slezak; Everitt and Keleti; Radotinsky Meyn Deardorff; Howard, Needles, Tammen & Bergendoff
  • Built: 1962-1965
  • Architecture style: sixties modern
  • Primary materials: aluminum, granite, glass
  • Most prominent features: 18-story office tower; Glass-enclosed entrance pavilions; well landscaped plaza


Modernism architecture was inspired by works of engineering, like industrial buildings and bridges.

 Jacob Javits Federal Building. Modernist architecture timeline

 7. Jacob Javits Federal Building & James Watson Court of International Trade in New York, NY

  • Architects: Alfred Easton Poor; Kahn & Jacobs; Eggers & Higgins
  • Built: 1963-1967, 1973-1974
  • Architecture style: sixties modern
  • Primary materials: Steel, limestone, granite, and glass
  • Most prominent features: tall office tower; well landscaped plaza; presenting public works of art

 Strom Thurmond Federal Building

 8. Strom Thurmond Federal Building & U.S. Court in Columbia, SC

  • Architects: Marcel Breuer and Associates
  • Built: 1975-1979
  • Architecture style: brutalism
  • Primary materials: Concrete, granite, and glass
  • Most prominent features: Monolithic office tower, long and low courthouse; repetitive recessed windows with protruding hoods; well landscaped plaza


Modernist architecture philosophy proposed “less is more”.

 Henry M. Jackson Federal Building Modernist architecture

 9. Henry M. Jackson Federal Building in Seattle, WA

  • Architects: John Graham & Associates; Fred Bassetti & Company
  • Built: 1971-1974
  • Architecture style: seventies modern
  • Primary materials: concrete, brick and teak
  • Modernist architecture characteristics: 37-story tower; Romanesque revival architectural fragments; landscaped plaza by landscape architect Richard Haag

 Edward A. Garmatz U.S. Courthouse

 10. Edward A. Garmatz U.S. Courthouse in Baltimore, MD

  • Architect: RTKL Associates
  • Built: 1973-1976
  • Architecture style: seventies modern
  • Primary materials: concrete and glass
  • Most prominent features: horizontal emphasis; landscaped plaza with sculpture


Interesting infographic on how Bauhaus helped the spread of modernism in architecture:

The Bauhaus

by mmjett. Explore more visuals like this one on the web’s largest information design community.

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