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Prague Functionalistic Architecture in Washington, DC

The Embassy of the Czech Republic presented an exhibition by the Jaroslav Fragner Gallery Prague on Prague architecture from the inter-war period on May 4, 2017 at the the American Institute of Architects. The Czech Ambassador Hynek Kmoníček and AIA VP Terri Stewart offered the opening remarks.

The exhibition Prague Functionalism: Tradition and Contemporary Echoes presents Prague’s functionalist buildings, projects, and drawings. Functionalist projects from the 1920s and 1930s, as well as contemporary projects influenced by Czech functionalist tradition are displayed.

After the official opening, visitors were offered a guided tour on the exhibition by the co-author, architecture historian Zdeněk Lukeš. Later Mr. Lukeš presented his lecture Prague Modern Architecture 1900-1950: From Art Nouveau and Cubism to Avant Garde in the adjacent board room.

Purism, constructivism, rationalism, or functionalism — these are terms seeking to give a name to various aspects of the notable phenomenon that literally obsessed the European architectural scene in the 1920s.

Prague had been one of the main art centres where the new approach to architecture has developed. Functionalism was not just passively accepted here but further evolved practically and theoretically. Thanks to the talent and enthusiasm of an entire generation of young architects, Prague, aside from Brno and Zlín, became an architectural laboratory whose importance by far exceeded Czechoslovak borders and Prague functionalistic buildings and houses belong among the jewels of world modern architecture.

The austere line of Czech architecture that represented its most outstanding stream in the past two decades is undoubtedly affected by the heritage of pre-war functionalism.

The exhibition presents the most famous inter-war modern buildings in Prague: the Muller Villa by Adolf Loos, a masterpiece of Czech functionalism; the Mánes Union of Fine Arts building by Otakar Novotný; the Catholic church of St. Wenceslaus by Josef Gočár; the Baba Villa Colony and other outstanding projects and buildings. Contemporary architecture is represented by the Euro Palace by DaM, Muzo Centre (Stanislav Fiala, D3a), the puristic Kolbenova metro station (DUM Architects), the Slavia Praha Rowing club by ADR Architects, a.o.

The exhibition was prepared by the Jaroslav Fragner Gallery in Prague, professionally assisted by the leading Czech theoreticians of architecture Mr. Zdeněk Lukeš and Dan Merta. Graphic design by Tomáš Brichcín (Studio Novák & Balihar).

Jaroslav Fragner Gallery in Prague (GJF) focuses on contemporary and historical architecture where the aim is to present profiles of important individuals or groups from the Czech Republic and abroad. Founded by the architect Jaroslav Fragner it is located in the Prague historical center right next to the famous Bethlehem Chapel which was rebuilt according to a Fragner’s project during the years 1949 -1953. Lately, GJF focuses also on public space, sustainable architecture, as well as on conversion of the industrial heritage.

Zdeněk Lukeš is an architect, historian, and professor of architecture at the New York University in Prague.  He is the author and co-author of about 50 books on modern architecture as well as hundreds of articles in Czech newspapers and magazines. He has contributed to the Czech Public TV series, Ten Centuries of Architecture, as well as to Czech Public Radio and BBC. He graduated from the Czech Technical University in Prague. He was actively involved in the Velvet Revolution in 1989, and was part of the Civic Forum movement founded by Václav Havel. After the Revolution, Lukeš worked in the Presidential Office during Václav Havel's presidency, helping to revitalize the Prague Castle. In 2014, he was awarded the Medal of Merit by the President of Slovenia.

The exhibition will be on display until June 28, 2017.


Prague Functionalism at the AIA