In 1911 Adolf Loos built the Looshaus on imposing Michaelerplatz, facing the Imperial Palace, and it was considered nothing less than an architectural declaration of war. After 200 years of baroque and neo-baroque exuberance, the first generation of 20th-century architects had had enough. Loos led the revolt; Ornament and Crime was the title of his famous manifesto, in which he inveighed against the conventional architectural wisdom of the 19th century. He advocated buildings that were plain, honest, and functional. The city was scandalized by Looshaus. Emperor Franz Josef, who lived across the road, was so offended that he ordered the curtains of his windows to remain permanently shut. Today the building has lost its power to shock, and the facade seems quite innocuous. The interior remains a breathtaking surprise; the building now houses a bank, and you can go inside to see the stylish chambers and staircase. To really get up close and personal with Loos, head to the splendor of his Loos American Bar, about six blocks east at No. 10 Kärntnerdurchgang.
Michaelerplatz 3, Vienna, A-1010, Austria