One common criticism of modern architects such as Mies van der Rohe and Walter Gropius is that while their goals might have been laudable, the execution and physical manifestation of their beliefs is somehow disconnected from the culture in which it grew out of. As "ineffective" as critics might say this style was, there is great importance in the entire movement made in architecture during the mid-twentieth century. Understanding where the International Style came from, who was involved and what accomplishments were made will allow us to appreciate the architecture we see around us everyday. .
The International Style began as a movement in architecture known as "Bauhaus". This was a German expression used for "house for building". "Bauhaus" became an institution from which a new social order would arise. Walter Gropius was the head of this institution, but once the Nazis shut down the school, the "Functionalists" as they were known, emigrated to the U.S. The Functionalists included Gropius, Mies van der Rohe and others. The term "International Style" was used to describe the American form of "Bauhaus" architecture. Common characteristics of International Style buildings are rectangular forms that have been completely stripped of applied decoration, visually weightless qualities, open interior spaces, and an stimulating association with geometry. Glass, steel, and reinforced concrete are the characteristic materials of construction. The International style grew from three phenomena that architects had to deal with. The first problem was the incorporating mix of decorative elements from different architectural periods that had little or no relation to the building's functions. The second was the development and use of iron, steel, glass, and reinforced concrete, and thirdly the economical creation of mass numbers of office buildings. These three phenomena basically outlined the search for an economical architecture that would use the new materials and still appeal to the people's taste.