Art: From Pile to Pull

What makes architecture modern? Writing in the current Harper's, Architect Harrison Gill, 56, of Chattanooga, Tenn., answers his own question with one word: "Tension." Writes Gill:

"Transparent glass enclosures such as the United Nations . . . can be built only because materials in tension rather than walls bear the load of the building. [The] basic structural qualities [of building materials] are only two: resistance to compression and to tension stresses ... In all architecture before our time, only the compression strength of materials was taken into consideration. Rocks like granite and basalt were the strongest, and great feats were performed...

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