In 1977, the birth of the movement was declared in the book The Language of Post-Modern Architecture by the architectural historian Charles Jencks, when he gave the date and place of modernisms death on July 15, 1972, in St. Louis, the modernist Pruitt-Igoo housing development, built in 1955, was dynamited because it had become crime-ridden and vandalized.
Debates then raged in print for several years, in what were called the style wars. Post-modernism was largely portrayed as a style rather than as the humanist form of architecture it basically is – framed by elaborate doorways and windows, man was the measure and center of the building.
Widely understood as a style rather than as a philosophy, the movement did not take root deeply in the minds of many designers, which has made it easier to dismiss.
The boiling debates first settled into a simmer, and now even the simmer is faint: an era – or half an era – has come and gone.
If, as the design and architecture magazines seem to indicate, this is the late summer of post-modernism, then it will have had a life span similar to that of Art Deco. But unlike Art Deco, which was eclipsed by the Depression, World War II and modern design, post-modernism has greatly invigorated design and architecture. It has permanently broadened the repertory of forms, materials, colors, surfaces and plans used by designers. At the same time, it has set off a fusion reaction of change. That change, now proceeding in many directions at the same time, seems to be occurring outside the movement itself, making it less central than it once was.