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The Taylorized Beauty of the Mechanical:
Scientific Management and the Rise of Modernist Architecture
Mauro F. Guillén

Paperback | 2008 | $38.95 | £32.95 | ISBN: 9780691138473
208 pp. | 6 x 9 | 49 halftones. 2 line illus. 17 tables.
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The dream of scientific management was a rationalized machine world where life would approach the perfection of an assembly line. But since its early twentieth-century peak this dream has come to seem a dehumanizing nightmare. Henry Ford's assembly lines turned out a quarter of a million cars in 1914, but all of them were black. Forgotten has been the unparalleled new aesthetic beauty once seen in the ideas of Ford and scientific management pioneer Frederick Winslow Taylor. In The Taylorized Beauty of the Mechanical, Mauro Guillén recovers this history and retells the story of the emergence of modernist architecture as a romance with the ideas of scientific management--one that permanently reshaped the profession of architecture.

Modernist architecture's pioneers, Guillén shows, found in scientific management the promise of a new, functional, machine-like--and beautiful--architecture, and the prospect of a new role for the architect as technical professional and social reformer. Taylor and Ford had a signal influence on Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius and on Le Corbusier and his Towards a New Architecture, the most important manifesto of modernist architecture. Architects were so enamored with the ideas of scientific management that they adopted them even when there was no functional advantage to do so.

Not a traditional architectural history but rather a sociological study of the profession of architecture during its early modernist period, The Taylorized Beauty of the Mechanical provides a new understanding of the degree to which modernist architecture emerged from a tradition of engineering and industrial management.


"The Taylorized Beauty of the Mechanical is an ambitious work. Mauro Guillen draws from an abundance of sources, both contemporary and recent, to support his hypothesis that there was a connection between the rise of scientific management and the development of modernist architecture.... Guillen has written an excellent comparative study that will appeal both to business historians and to architectural and design historians."--Per H. Hansen, Business History Review

"Guillén . . . offers a unique and bold explanation of the differential development of modern architecture internationally. . . . Guillén's analysis of modern architecture is impressive and inventive. If his answers are not definitive, he certainly asks the right questions and, consequently, greatly advances the sociological study of architecture."--David Gartman, American Journal of Sociology

"Mauro F. Guillén contributes to the scholarship on architectural Modernism with an interesting twist with approaching the architectural history literature from a joint managerial and sociological viewpoint. . . . [T]his survey will be of interest to specialists and non-specialists alike."--Guillaume Evrard, European Legacy


"Deeply historical and comparative, Mauro Guillén shows how a neo-institutionalist and social movement analysis complement each other as he explains the emergence and rise to prominence of modernist architecture. Systematic in its use of data, the book is nuanced in its analysis. He examines the several strains of modernism and subtly explains why modernism takes hold in some countries, but not others. An excellent analysis of aesthetics and the transformation of the profession of architecture."--Mayer Zald, University of Michigan

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Table of Contents:

List of Plates vii
List of Tables and Figures ix
Preface xi
Chapter One: Organization, Modernism, and Architecture 1
Chapter Two: The Taylorized Beauty of the Mechanical 15
Chapter Three: What Caused Modernist Architecture? 33
Chapter Four: Industrialization, Technology, and the State: Britain, France, Germany 45
Chapter Five: Backwardness and Revolution: Italy, Russia, Spain 68
Chapter Six: Modernism without Modernity: Mexico, Brazil, Argentina 91
Chapter Seven: Sponsorship, Professionalization, and Modernist Architecture 108
Chapter Eight: The Enduring Promise of Modernist Architecture 137
Appendix: Leading Architects 149
Illustration Credits for Plates 157
References 159
Index 179

This book has been translated into:

  • Spanish

Other Princeton books authored or coauthored by Mauro F. Guillén:


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File created: 4/20/2017

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