In covering well-trodden ground, William Curtis still manages to shed new light on the subject of Modern Architecture. Much has been written over the years, including Sigfried Giedion's seminal work, Space Time and Architecture, which sought to give Modern Architecture its proper perspective. Mr. Curtis seems greatly beholden to Giedion, especially in his interpretations of Le Corbusier, which comprise a sizeable chunk of this volume. Mr. Curtis downplays the polemics and focuses more on the individual contributions of an incredibly broad range of architects from the early 19th century to the present day.
Wonderful chapters encapsulate the various movements such as his piece on the Revolutionary Architecture of Russia, and how these ideas filtered through the various European architectural movements. He also covers the diaspora of Russian avant-garde architects, in subsequent chapters, to Germany, England, Israel and the United States and the tremendous impact they had in these countries.
However, the main focus is the way in which Modern architecture was constantly being reshaped into a regional architecture, highlighting such major figures as Alvar Aalto, Luis Barrigan, and Oscar Niemeyer, all of whom owed some debt to Le Corbusier.
This is a very even-handed account, perhaps too even-handed at times. It is a most valuable resource for anyone interesting in Modern architecture and the many forms and variations that it has taken over the 20th century.