A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from September 10, 2015
“Form follows finance” (architecture adage)

"Form (ever) follows function” is the famous axiom of Chicago-based architect Louis Sullivan (1856-1924). Form Follows Finance: Skyscrapers and Skylines in New York and Chicago (1995) by Carol Willis popularlized a complementary axiom.

“Form follows finance” had been used in the 1970s and 1980s, before the Willis’s 1995 book. “Urban Design: Form Follows Finance” was cited in a book from 1974. “ “Form follows finance.” (Bill Taylor, AI consultant)” was cited in a book published in 1988.


Wikipedia: Form follows function
Form follows function is a principle associated with modernist architecture and industrial design in the 20th century. The principle is that the shape of a building or object should be primarily based upon its intended function or purpose.

Origins of the phrase
The American architect, Louis Sullivan coined the phrase, although the authorship of the phrase is often, though wrongly, ascribed to the American sculptor Horatio Greenough, whose thinking to a large extent predates the later functionalist approach to architecture. Greenough’s writings were for a long time largely forgotten, and were rediscovered only in the 1930s; in 1947 a selection of his essays was published under the title Form and Function: Remarks on Art by Horatio Greenough.

Google Books
Yerba Buena:
Land Grab and Community Resistance in San Francisco

By Chester Hartman
San Francisco, CA: Glide Publications
1974
Pg. 82:
Urban Design: Form Follows Finance

Google Books
Camera Obscura
Issues 13-15
1985
Pg. 125:
However, when the completed “Form Follows Finance” exhibition was initially unveiled at San Francisco Camerawork, the agitational potential of the exhibition and the political analysis it proposed were compromised by an exhibition space whose regular exhibitions and audience wereprincipally geared to art photography.

Google Books
What Every Engineer Should Know about Artificial Intelligence
By William A. Taylor
Cambridge, MA: MIT Press
1988
Pg. 258:
Form Follows Finance It has been said that form follows function, but this is not true. No matter how functional something is, it matters little if development funds are not forthcoming.
(...)
“Form ever follows function.” (Louis Sullivan, architect). “Form follows finance.” (Bill Taylor, AI consultant).

18 November 1989, The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, CA), “Home-building father’s example of 40 years ago is son’s blueprint” by Roy and Davina Lane, pg. F1, col. 5:
There are really two schools of thought with regard to financing in architecture. Form follows finance or finance follows form. Financing capabilities dictate which of these two principles apply. As with the vast majority of people, our financing parameters would outline the limitations of design.

Google Books
Landscape of Modernity:
Essays on New York City, 1900-1940

Edited by David Ward and Olivier Zunz
New York, NY: Russell Sage Foundation
1992
Pg. 160:
Form Follows Finance:
Empire State Building

Carol Willis

OCLC WorldCat record
Form follows finance.
Author: R Martinez
Edition/Format: Article Article : English
Publication: Annals of emergency medicine, 1994 Nov; 24(5): 958-9
Database: From MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

OCLC WorldCat record
Form follows finance : skyscrapers and skylines in New York and Chicago
Author: Carol Willis
Publisher: New York, N.Y. : Princeton Architectural Press, ©1995.
Edition/Format: Print book : English : 1st ed
Database: WorldCat
Summary:
“Although fundamental factors of program, technology, and economics make tall buildings everywhere take similar forms, skyscrapers in New York and Chicago developed very differently in the first half of the 20th century. In contrast to standard histories that counterpose the design philosophies of the Chicago and New York “schools,” Form Follows Finance shows how market formulas produced characteristic forms in each city - “vernaculars of capitalism"--That resulted from local land-use patterns, municipal codes, and zoning. Refuting some common cliches of skyscraper history such as the equation of big buildings with big business and the idea of a “corporate skyline,” this book emphasizes the importance of speculative development and the impact of real estate cycles on the forms of buildings. Form Follows Finance demonstrates that cities are complex commercial environments where buildings are businesses, space is a commodity, and location and image have value."--Jacket.

13 January 1997, Gazette Telegraph (Colorado Springs, CO), “Sprawl/Distinctive homes not the norm,” pg. A6, col. 6:
Developers say that buyers apparently aren’t interested in alternatives, so there is little incentive for builders to provide them. As developer Jonathan Rose said, “Form follows finance.”

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityBuildings/Housing/Parks • Thursday, September 10, 2015 • Permalink