Innovation: Reinforced Concrete Mushroom Column
Location: Giesshubel Warehouse – Zurich, Switzerland
By: Robert Maillart
Swiss civil engineer, Robert Maillart, revolutionized the use of structural reinforced concrete with his designs for bridges and column design in a number of buildings. His revolutionary mushroom ceiling was first constructed in the Giesshubel warehouse, where several new designs were implemented. Instead of reinforcing the concrete floor with beams, Maillart treated it as a flat slab and shaped the column capitals in such a way that the forces would flow smoothly, providing an elegant and efficient shape.
Ultimately, Maillart’s designs changed the “aesthetics and engineering of bridge construction and influence decades of architects and engineers after him. ” `
Location: Detroit, Michigan
By: Henry Ford
While Henry Ford did not invent the automobile or the assembly line, his innovative design and business model changed the world and made cars more affordable. Ford chose a vanadium alloy for his cars when he examined the wreckage of a French race car and noticed how light the material was. This vanadium alloy had three times the tensile strength of the steel alloys used by his competitors, which explains why so many Model T cars have survived today. He improved the efficiency of the assembly line so that in 4 years, the production time for a chassis assembly decreased from over 12 hours to a mere hour and 33 minutes. Beginning in 1913, all Model T cars were produced in black because the color was cheap, durable and dried quickly, meaning production could be increased. Ford’s idea to lower the product’s cost and the company’s profit margin to increase sales volume was revolutionary for the time, but was an effective one. In 1914, Ford Motor Company produced more cars than all the other auto manufacturers combined. In 1926, sales began to dwindle as competitors were rolling out more modern offerings, the likes of which the Model T could not compete with. The last Model T was produced in 1927, after 19 years and 15 million cars. In 1999, the Ford Model T was named ‘Car of the Century’ .
“I will build a motor car for the great multitude” – Henry Ford
Location: Cairo, Egypt
By: Alexandre Marcel
In 1905, Baron Empain purchased a large stretch of desert just outside of Cairo with plans to build a new suburb. This new city, Heliopolis, was designed to be a “city of luxury and leisure” with recreational activities, housing for rent and innovative design types for specific social classes. Construction on Baron Empain’s residence began in 1907 and French architect, Alexander Marcel was chosen for the project. The villa, which remains standing to this day, is an example of “early creative use of concrete”, on which is was entirely built. While the palace and the town have its own architectural style, the palace is reminiscent of a Hindu temple, with its collection of busts, statues, elephants and Buddha’s.
Location: Oak Park, Illinois
By: Frank Lloyd Wright
When the original burned down in 1904, the parish called upon Frank Lloyd Wright to redesign the Unity Temple. This was no ordinary commission for FLW as he lived in Oak Park and was a parishioner of the Unitarian Church. There were several problems that needed to be overcome: accommodating for the long site, reducing the noise from the adjacent street and designing the furniture, all for a budget of $40,000.
Wright abandoned the stark white New England style of churches not only because it was more economical, but as a way to remove the traditional religious attitudes and place man at the heart of the temple. To reduce street noise, FLW removed all street level windows and instead allowed natural light to fill the space from the stained glass in the roof and clerestories. He also designed the space with varying seat levels that would fit the congregation and place no one more than 40 feet from the pulpit. “The design of the Unity Temple represents a leap forward” for Wright as it was the “first time he realized the heart of a building is its space, not its walls.”
“Why not, then, build a temple, not to God in that way but build a temple to man, appropriate to his uses as a meeting place, in which to study man himself for his God’s sake? A modern meeting-house and good-time place” – Frank Lloyd Wright