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From Bauhaus to Our House
Tom Wolfe
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From Bauhaus to Our House

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  2,405 Ratings  ·  181 Reviews
Walter Groppius, granddaddy of steel and glass, conceived his architectural vision in the rubble of WW I and the decadence of Weimar in the decade after.

His doctrine found fertile soil in America, where it was time to adopt a clearly defined and suitable representative architecture.

Tom Wolfe, author of THE PAINTED WORD and THE RIGHT STUFF, treats us to a chronicle of the t

Hardcover, 143 pages
Published October 1st 1981 by Farrar Straus Giroux (first published 1981)
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Mark Taylor
The funny thing about Tom Wolfe is that for all of the hip edginess of his writing style, he’s actually a square. His writings were revolutionary, as he was one of the founders of New Journalism, but his own personal outlook is quite conservative. Wolfe may have gone along on a bus trip with Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters, but he wasn’t joining them for their LSD trips. Wolfe was always something of an outsider, and this made him one of the great chroniclers of the 1960’s and 1970’s, able to ...more
Wolfe writes an interesting, hilarious, and opinionated account of how we ended up with all Those Buildings, i.e. those concrete boxes that look like factories that everyone understands are "art" but secretly thinks are really ugly. My architecture knowledge is pretty much limited to recognizing that architects design bafflingly expensive, utilitarian chairs (how bourgeois of me!) and that "Eero" and "Saarinen" are frequent answers to New York Times crossword puzzle clues. As a lay person, I enj ...more
Jul 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Bauhaus school stripped away all tradition in the name Socialism, creating the Modernist schools and mass housing for the prols. Many of our council/ public housing horrors can laid at Bauhaus's door- howling and moaning. The blocks of glass and steel, the grey and white furnishings and interiors that we inhabit as workplaces, we can thank them for these as well.

This is Tom Wolfe, biting, sarcastic and cutting through to the core.
Jan 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This is the first Tom Wolfe book I've read, and it's an absolute hoot. Wolfe is opinionated, caustic, funny, and completely irreverent - the perfect person to write a short and never-dull book on that unclad emperor, modern architecture. This book is for everyone who's ever wondered why, even though everyone hates modern architecture, we're all continuously forced first to pay for it and then to look at at it.
Jun 08, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wolfe likes exuberance. He doesn't like restraint and purity. So he criticizes early and mid-century modern architecture and applauds those who resisted the glass box in favor of expressive and exuberant designs--like Eero Saarinen. Wolfe's most interesting claim is that the motivation for architectural modernism was despair after the first world war and the desire to create a new society from scratch, since the old one had been destroyed. But that rationale made no sense in America, which was u ...more
Christina Baehr
Mar 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Laugh-out-loud funny nonfiction romp about the bigoted world of 20th century architecture. Got it from the library, devoured it, handed it to my husband, then he read it aloud to me over a couple of evenings. It's a case study of how a small, prescriptivist art clique with enough snobbery and chutzpah was able to conquer and dominate their cashed-up patrons and make them pay for buildings they hated without ever questioning their authority. My favourite story was how the actual *workers* were th ...more
Tom Wolfe's short work, From Bauhaus to Our House, is little more than a screed against the excesses of modern architecture. While agreeing with many of his conclusions, I found the style and tone of the book to be inappropriate for the purpose of serious art/architecture criticism. Written in 1981, it seems dated with a quarter century of architectural progress having occurred since it was published. There are references to other art forms, music in particular, that demonstrate an unfamiliarity ...more
Jan 16, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library-books
Somebody mentioned this on Facebook recently, and I (having some interest in domestic architecture) thought "ooh, sounds interesting" and headed for the library.

Alas, the title is distinctly misleading; the book is not at all about domestic architecture. It is about modern architecture in general, from the Bauhaus onwards, with particular attention to America. And, since the author dislikes modern architecture and has no patience for the theories behind it, it is also a fairly scathing critique
Aug 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is a hilarious demolition job. It raises the mystifying question of how a small number of European architects from the 1920s managed to turn their field of work into a religion replete with dogma. It also looks at some of the devastating effects Bauhaus has had on urban planning and housing projects. In a way, Wolfe's criticism could have been even harsher. That is especially true of the figue of Le Corbusier – a man who would have torn down half of Paris if only they'd let him and who ...more
Dec 28, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-owned
As always, Tom Wolfe's voice is smarmy yet sharp (a tough act to pull off), and infinitely readable, even when I don't entirely agree with his commentary. And, as always, he walks the fine line between iconoclast and weirdly conservative or even anti-intellectual (even as he laments in the pages of this book being labeled a "pop" writer). His take-down of the blocky, plain, steel and glass box style of architecture spawned from the International Style is funny and sometimes right-on-the-mark, wh ...more
In which Tom Wolfe rips the modern and post modernists a new one with his usual pluck and verve. Wolfe cannot get beyond his American disgust for the iconoclasts, who tore down traditional architecture in America for no good reason. His summary of the Europeans seems, from my limited knowledge of them, accurate, and his description is at once funny and painful—painful in the sense of regret for the ugliness that has been raised on the American landscape for decades as a result. This historical b ...more
Joni Baboci
Wolfe shoots the architect of the age off the pedestal with humor. He makes a dramatic situation funny and distills the whole of architectural history, making it human and identifiable with.

The book is basically concerned with american architecture - and how in the pre-WWII era the infusion of banished or fleeing European architects stopped the evolution of what american architecture could have been in its tracks. On the way Wolfe also does a great job of distilling the ideas of the different a
Edmund Davis-Quinn
I just finished Tom Wolfe's excellent "From Bauhaus to Our House." And I wonder with the Bauhaus and modern architecture calling itself "non bourgeois", is there anything more bourgeois than modern architecture and the Barcelona chair?

I didn't like it as much this time as previous readings, probably the fourth time I've read it. But, there is something incredibly elitist about academies and art. True in poetry, art, writing and music.

In the internet age, we are entering a time of incredible wei
Nearly thirty years ago, Tom Wolfe put the architectural world in a tizzy when he published this essay attacking modern architecture.

Now, I'm not a big fan of glass & steel & concrete office buildings, but Wolfe is absolutely virulent on the subject. And therein lies the rub. He detests Bauhaus-inspired work so much that he has no perspective. He is guilty of the same pretentiousness and arrogance of which he accuses the architects whom he dislikes.

There is a great deal to be said agains
May 17, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A short and entertaining history of the modern architecture movement, though accuracy may not be 100% in his telling. However, it's fun to read someone lambasting a movement that completely took over architecture (especially in America). I wonder what Wolfe would have to say about the current state of architecture: Gehry, Hadid, Liebeskind...the absurd grand scale sculpture-buildings sans-context that are passing as the epitome of architectural prowess...sure makes me miss Louis Sullivan and FLW ...more
Jesús de la Garza
Primer libro del año. Tom Wolfe, siempre ácido y crítico, vuelve a sorprenderme con su humor.
From Buahaus to Our House relata el surgimiento y la evolución de la arquitectura moderna, todo narrado de la forma más cómica y cruda posible.
Le Corbusier, Mies Van der Rohe y Walter Gropious son sólo algunos nombres que no escapan de la pluma de Wolfe.
Thomas Wolf
A humorous critique of 20th century architecture. the first half was enlightening to those of us who had never thought about the herd mentality in architectural design. The last half added little new.
Douglas Wilson
Feb 17, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: culture-studies
Jun 30, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: art, design-and-decor
I'm sure this is the wittiest book about 20th Century architecture I will ever read.
Paul Westwood
Aug 14, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-books
This is an odd one for me to review because I know nothing about architecture and so didn't really know anything about the architects or the movements he talked about in the book. I picked it up because of the author rather than the subject matter.
So it's essentially a long, verbose rant about Wolfe's dislike of modern architecture. He starts with the Bauhaus movement and what that stood for and then takes us through modern history explaining how the tenets of that original movement have been f
Brian Kovesci
I've read works by Tom Wolfe before, this one is different. He took issues personally.

His rage is rather interesting since he has such harsh half-informed options on classical, modern and post-modern architecture come from a casual observer/journalist perspective. Tom Wolfe is not an architect. I've also read books about classic and modern architecture, and I'm really not sure where his white hot rage stems from. Name calling and hissy fits sprinkle this book in which he crucifies Walter Gropius
Daisy Matta
Nov 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arch-urb
As a architecture and urbanism student we hear a lot about how modernism changed architecture on its chore and how all past styles turned into history. Tom Wolfe gives another view into the changing process that we do not see inside the academy. The White Men are gods among us students and there wasn't a clear explanation about how it all happened.
This book reveals another side I loved to see, how they had failures and most of the modern architects haven't even had a lot of built projects before
BC Cook
Sep 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic read for anyone interested in the history of ideas that have shaped the world we live in. Tom Wolfe's account of architectural "progress" in the 20th century sheds light far beyond the building of buildings, to where one can see the architects of modernity effectually leaking all over the rest of the the cultural canvas with all the gusto of a drunken man at 2am in a dark alleyway on any given Saturday night...

I would probably give this book 5 stars if there was more offered here in th
Joshua Nuckols
May 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
gotta love mr. wolfe.
Kya Kennett
Mar 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent, funny book for any architect or architecture student, especially who love a bit of humor with their history.
AlegnaB †
This was interesting. Now I understand how modern architecture (and art somewhat, since he touches on that) became so popular, even though it's hideous.
Ben Richmond
I'm in the midst of an emotional confrontation with Wolfe's work at the moment, so I'm not sure how well I can do this. Okay, so since going to graduate school for journalism I'm been suspecting myself of being rather ill suited for this pursuit and in fact rather a fool for passing up a chance to fashion myself as a European-styled Intellectual by studying the liberal arts at the New School. If this all sounds terribly pretentious to you please know that I more than agree with you, but you shou ...more
Bruno Romano
Aug 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Como chegamos a esse ponto? Prédios que se assemelham a inóspitas caixas de fósforo cinzentas? Como podem as fotos das nossas próprias cidades, décadas atrás, parecerem irreconhecíveis, como se mostrassem uma dimensão irrecuperável e esquecida?

Esse livro é sobre arquitetura, mas não é para arquitetos, porque – e esse é o argumento do livro – arquitetos modernos são malas e arrogantes. Porém, se você alguma vez entrou num apartamento contemporâneo “clean” e espartano, ou observou um prédio branco
Feb 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: house-geeks
Ugliness and impracticality in the name of progress are not really progress and there is no justification for ugliness and impracticality.

I see these homes. There is a riverside home I admire, built into a hill on a riverbend with a lovely view. However, this home has a flat roof, which was a popular architectural feature at the time it was built. We are in a northern location with lots of heavy snow. No matter how lovely the home, or how cheap the price, I would never, ever, buy a flat roofed h
Zack Gebhardt
Feb 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A delightfully partisan look at how American architecture came to have so many non-descript glass, steel, and cement buildings in the mid 20th century. Mixing personal anecdotes and investigative research into the accounts of a series of influential men, Wolfe explains how after World War I European architects Walter Gropius, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and Le Corbusier started designing bare and minimal structures in a desperate quest to be non-bourgeois. At the onset of World War II these 'avant ...more
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Wolfe was educated at Washington and Lee Universities and also at Yale, where he received a PhD in American studies.

Tom Wolfe spent his early days as a Washington Post beat reporter, where his free-association, onomatopoetic style would later become the trademark of New Journalism. In books such as The Electric Koolaid Acid Test, The Right Stuff, and The Bonfire of the Vanities, Wolfe delves into
More about Tom Wolfe...
“They became desperate for an antidote, such as coziness & color. They tried to bury the obligatory white sofas under Thai-silk throw pillows of every rebellious, iridescent shade of Magenta, pink, and tropical green imaginable. But the architect returned, as he always does, like the conscience of a Calvinist, and he lectured them and hectored them and chucked the shimmering little sweet things out.” 8 likes
“Le Corbusier was the sort of relentlessly rational intellectual that only France loves wholeheartedly, the logician who flies higher and higher in ever-decreasing concentric circles until, with one last, utterly inevitable induction, he disappears up his own fundamental aperture and emerges in the fourth dimension as a needle-thin umber bird.” 6 likes
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