The California Way: Popular Architecture Today



Architecture is not the art of creating life; it is the art of creating where life happens and there is no more diverse place for life to happen in the modern world than California. Being a mix of most every race, culture and perspective makes California a kaleidoscope of the human experience so it is not surprising that the styles of buildings where those experiences take place would follow suit. Certainly when one thinks of California, grandiose mansions of the rich and famous come to mind, but these constructs are only a small portion of California’s rich architectural flavor.

Green Architecture
Few regions within the United States collectively value the achievements and purpose of the green movement and seek to live green as Californians do. As such, a green lifestyle requires a green and sustainable living space and thus green architecture was born. Green building or “Organic Architecture” as a contemporary style focuses primarily on creating energy efficient homes and offices through the use of natural and recycled materials. Often construction will be cleverly integrated into surrounding lush landscapes to create a sense of harmony with the natural world. Buildings constructed in this manner may also prominently feature natural resources doing a great deal more than being aesthetically appealing. From plants used as roofing material to bamboo flooring, to granite counter tops; green architecture is an exciting new means of building today and tomorrow’s beautiful, yet sustainable structures., as such you wouldn't be surprised to find sustainable and green building being taught at a California architecture school such as Southern California Institute of Architecture, NewSchool and the University of California at Berkeley.

Neo-Modern and Neo-eclectic Architecture
While green architecture is a form of contemporary architecture, it has purpose and presentation outside the norm of traditional architecture and therefore should be separately identified. That is not to say that green architecture cannot be neomodern or neoeclectic, but they are not mutually exclusive.

Neoeclectic (as the name implies) is a modernistic tendency towards mixing the great styles the past into new and previously unseen combinations. Neoeclectic structures (which are found abundantly throughout California and can be described as the pervasive style for the houses of the stars) can include neoclassical, Tudor, Queen Anne, ranch, colonial, and even prairie elements within their presentation.

Neomodern buildings however can be found in most the major cities as the glistening towers and streamlined skyscrapers. Neomodernism as a school of thought eschews the complex nature of eclecticism for the beauty of geometric simplicity.

Classical
While California as a state is consistently one the forefront of the latest trends, the state also has a rich history and nowhere is this richness more on display than in architecture. The most iconic of these classic architectural displays can be found in San Francisco with the Victorian “Painted Ladies”. Classical European, Asian, and quintessentially American styles truly display the diversity of California.

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