Pevsner stuck to the Gropius world-view. "What I thought I described was
the coming of the Millennium," confided Pevsner to his Third Programme
audience. "To me what had been achieved in 1914 was the style of the
century. It never occurred to me to look beyond. Here was the one and
only style which fitted all those aspects which mattered, aspects of
economics and sociology, of materials and function. It seems folly to
think that anybody would wish to abandon it. But human feelings are
inscrutable and what we are experiencing now is a new style completely,
an anti-Pioneers style…alarmingly harking back in many different, even
contradictory ways to Art Nouveau and to Expressionism".

In so succinctly describing what he saw as the post-modern situation in
the mid-1960s, Pevsner thus anticipated Jencks by over a decade - which
means Jencks is effectively the chronicler of the second, more obvious,
wave of postmodernism. But to Pevsner, to Russell Hitchcock, to CIAM, to
Mondrian, to Schoenberg, Modernism was meant to be the culmination of
everything. This is why, when discussing it, almost Messianic religious
phraseology is often deployed: odd, when you consider the essentially
secular nature of the movement. The true believers did not go away: they
were merely eclipsed for a while, and then shone again on a new
generation. But having been successfully challenged twice since the
Second World War, it makes no difference that architectural Modernism
had returned with a vengeance by the mid 1990s, kicking Phase Two
post-modernism into touch. That just meant the start of Phase Three.

We are all post-modernists now. Our conceptual artists look to Dada, not
to Picasso or Matisse. All our globe-trotting "signature" architects are
revival Expressionists as Pevsner rightly foresaw: Frank Gehry, Zaha
Hadid, Rem Koolhaas, Daniel Libeskind, Foreign Office Architects,
Stephen Holl, Peter Eisenman, Herzog and de Meuron. Since the new
international style for landmark buildings is this now familiar
expressionism of swooping curves and jagged angles and blurring of the
distinction between levels, that means that the old, upper-case
International Style is indeed something out of the history books. The
mere fact that many other architects have gone back to the mother lode
to build buildings that are very much in the tradition of the original
International Style - that "simplicity, honesty, service" are the
watchwords of many - means only that they are another species of
revivalist. Modernism is old enough to have developed its own complex
history, which has become a resource to draw on like any other. But for
some, particularly in architecture, it is still more than that. Still a
manifesto for a better, healthier, fairer, more rational world.