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The AEG Factory in Berlin: Designed by Peter Behrens

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modern history
Boston College

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  1. Introduction
  2. The modernist movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries
  3. Looking at the building from the outside
  4. The interior of the building
  5. Conclusion
  6. Bibliography

Throughout the latter half of the 18th and through the 19th century, architecture remained stagnant in design and innovation. There were many great buildings designed during the time, but they all were stuck in the past, usually echoing the Gothic and Greek structures of old. It wasn't until the industrial revolution fully took hold, that architects were finally able to break out of the mold and began a new age of design: modern architecture. With the advent of new technologies such as poured concrete and exposed steel, architects now had new materials with which to work. One such architect, Peter Behrens, was one of the first to incorporate these new materials into his works, in an attempt to bridge the past and present. Behrens finest achievement was his AEG Factory in Berlin, an immense building designed to house the production of turbines for the company. This great work of architecture was the first in a long line of industrial buildings that gave, as Behrens said himself, ?architectural dignity to the workplace.?

[...] Though Behrens's AEG Factory was not the first factory designed with steel and glass, it was truly the first ?modern industrial building?. In his book on Behrens, Stanford Anderson describes the revolutionary idea of the factory: ?Beyond mere utility, he sought to create the monuments of a culture based on modern industrial power both physical and corporate power. Behrens's success in this program made his Turbine Factory unprecedented.?[2] His factory is truly a monument of modern architecture, just as the Greek temples were monuments in their own time. [...]

[...] Behrens's revolutionary use of glass in the AEG Factory served as a precursor to other famous architects such as Phillip Johnson and Mies Van der Rohe, who both created buildings almost solely of glass. When one steps into the interior of the building it is truly a site to behold. The materials of glass, steel, and concrete that can be seen on the outside truly come together on the inside. Behrens's theme of combining tradition elements with the new technology of the industrial age is best seen by looking at the main hall of the factory. [...]

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