For many the word modernism conjures visions of fantastical and futurist midcentury abodes perched atop the Hollywood Hills or in the Palm Springs deserts of California. And certainly the Case Study Houses—many brought forth through the 1945 Arts & Architecture program that challenged American architects to explore new building techniques for affordable, repeatable, and mass market home models that used standard parts—are important and aesthetically pleasing icons in the history of global modern architecture. However, the design movement is much older, deeper, and varied than just glass-walled visions on a cliffside.
Modern architecture can trace its origins to the excitement and opportunity allowed by the Industrial Revolution in Europe in the late 19th century, and continued its exploration through the early 1970s across the globe. Along the way, its principles were named and enumerated by many, including French architect Le Corbusier in his 1923 five points of the International Style: pilotis (pillars), open floor plans, unrestricted façades, horizontal windows, and flat roofs with gardens. All of this aided in the regional development of modern architecture to great beauty. This long-lasting and wide-ranging vision for technology-based design helped to advance architecture and the proliferation of its democratic ideas around the world. A pilgrimage to see some of its best works seems an only appropriate homage.