The architects of the later 19th cent. found themselves in a world being reshaped by science, industry, and speed. A new eclecticism arose, such as the architecture based on the École des Beaux-Arts, and what is commonly called Victorian architecture in Britain and the United States. The needs of a new society pressed them, while steel, reinforced concrete, and electricity were among the many new technical means at their disposal.
After more than a half-century of assimilation and experimentation, modern architecture, often called the International style, produced an astonishing variety of daring and original buildings, often steel substructures sheathed in glass. The Bauhaus was a strong influence on modern architecture. As the line between architecture and engineering became a shadow, 20th-century architecture often approached engineering, and modern works of engineering—airplane hangars, for example—often aimed at and achieved an undeniable beauty. More recently, postmodern architecture (see postmodernism), which exploits and expands the technical innovations of modernism while often incorporating stylistic elements from other architectural styles or periods, has become an international movement.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.