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architecture

the staircase in contemporary architecture

Weiss/Manfredi, Novartis Office Building, 2012, East Hanover, NJ. Photo: Paul Warchol.

THE PRIMORDIAL SPACES of modernism were spaces of labor. It was in the industrialized efficiency of the factory floor that many of the fundamental attributes of modern architecture—the grid, the open plan, the revealed structure—were developed. And as modern labor became more corporate over the course of the twentieth century, modern architecture did, too: The cubicles of the typical modern office adhered to the same rigorous organizational logic as factory workbenches, with desks appearing one after the other, arranged in single file for solitary work. Yet today the nature of working life has fundamentally changed, defined by a flexibility and sociability—described by many as a post-Fordist condition—that often manifests itself in spaces that are driven less by program than by possibility. Fittingly, architecture’s new mandate seems to be to create spaces

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