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Architectural History Lecture: Ornament and Crime

October 30, 2014 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm


The title comes from a lecture given by Austrian architect Adolf Loos in 1910 and 1913 and first published as an article in French in 1920. Loos’ initial criticism was directed at Art Nouveau and Secessionist architects who lavishly embellished “articles in daily use” during the first decade of the 20th century. It was not a criticism of all architectural ornament per se, but as one Loos scholar noted, “In Paris, it was received as a purist manifesto that demanded the total suppression of ornament.” Indeed, in 1924 Loos wrote: “I never thought like the purists who pushed this reasoning to the absurd, that ornament should be systematically abolished.”
This “purist manifesto” was widely believed in the USA from the later 1930s to the late 1960s, despite the fact that various forms of ornament had been a prominent element in most Modern architecture in the USA for over 35 years. During the late 20th-century “postmodern” period, ornament reappeared in the work of many architects. We will explore the nature and character of both early- and late-20th-century architectural ornament.

This lecture is free and open to the public.

Thursday, October 30

6:00 p.m.—7:30 p.m.

Landmarks Preservation Resource Center

744 Rebecca Avenue

Wilkinsburg, Pa 15221

Map and driving directions

About the presenter: Albert M. Tannler, historical collections director, joined PHLF on January 2, 1991.  He researches and writes architectural history and oversees the James D. Van Trump Library and the Frank B. Fairbanks Rail Transportation Archive. Prior to joining PHLF, Al worked as an archivist and editor in Chicago.  He began researching and writing about architecture in the Department of Special Collections at the University of Chicago Library.

RSVPs are appreciated. Contact Mary Lu Denny at or 412-471-5808 ext. 527.



October 30, 2014
6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation

100 West Station Square Drive, Suite 450

Pittsburgh, PA 15219

Phone: 412-471-5808  |  Fax: 412-471-1633