As new technologies were developed with the advent of the industrial revolution, architects could exploit new design elements, especially verticality, with increased stability, integrity, and cost efficiency. Completed in 1889 for the Paris World’s Fair, the Eiffel Tower, designed by Gustav Eiffel, maximized cast iron construction. This newly fabricated material could be welded or riveted into any configuration. Architecture was freed from the post-lintel or the simple stacking or piling of bricks or blocks of stone. But, is the Eiffel Tower art? During that World’s Fair, Parisians protested the tower as ugly and an abomination on the skyline of the city. However, after a few years, they had become accustomed to the semicircular shapes between the legs, the gentle upward curves along the sides, and the repetition of horizontals, which distinguish its parts. When viewed up close, the girded construction is transparent revealing a delicacy of fine ornamental linear patterns. The tower is painted brown, but when silhouetted against the sky, simulates a two-dimensional drawing of lines drawn against a high value, blank background.



The Sydney Opera House, designed by Jorn Utzon, 1956-73, demonstrates the use of another “contemporary” material in the design of unique and visually engaging structures. Exploiting the potentialities of concrete, this building’s roofline is cast or molded – an additive process. In order to create a harmony between the building and the shapes of the environment, molds were created in the form of the billowing sails of sailboats. When painted white, these sail forms stand out against the cool and low value coloration of the water of the harbor. The white also contrasts with the brown color of the brick of the walls and foundations of the structure. However, the artistic elements don’t end there. There is variety in the shapes and sizes of the rooflines, which results in unusual rhythms. These “sails” even cast shadows upon each other creating light and shadow play, dynamic patterns of high and low value.