WALTER ADOLPH GEORG GROPIUS (1883-1969)
Walter Gropius studied at the Colleges of Technology of Berlin and Munich, working under Peter Behrens from 1907-1910. He served in WWI and was almost killed.
Gropius founded the Bauhaus (above) in Dessau, Germany, one of the most influential architecture and design schools of the 20th century. Students at this exceptional school not only studied architectgure but made everything from buildings to the furniture and art.
Gropius and his Bauhaus staff around 1929
The rise of Hitler in the 1930's drove Gropius out of Germany, first to London working for Maxwell Fry, and later in 1937 to Cambridge MA where he taught at Harvard and MIT.
Working with former student Marcel Breuer, he designed many significant projects. Their American post-war houses were produced for a largely homogenous clientele: financially well-off young couples, open to new ideas and styles (not least to the prevailing taste of the day), who wanted to move out from cities into nearby countryside and build a home for themselves and their children. The houses designed by Breuer in the 1940s and '50s exhibit a fixed typology and a strict design system. This was based on the additive and clearly visible combination of self-contained boxes, the technique they developed back in Europe. Gropius and Breuer eventually parted ways.
In 1944, Gropius became a US citizen. In 1945, he founded The Architects' Collaborative (TAC) based in Cambridge with Norman C. Fletcher, Jean B. Fletcher, John C. Harkness, Sarah P. Harkness, Robert S. MacMillan, Louis A. MacMillan, and Benjamin C. Thompson. TAC would beome one of the most well-known and respected design firms in the world. Sadly, it went bankrupt in 1995.
1926 - The Gropius House, his own. Commissioned 1925. It was one of his "Master Houses" for Bauhaus faculty in Dessau, Germany. Designed with Marcel Breuer.
1926 - The Moholy/Nagy House, one of his "Master Houses" for Bauhaus faculty in Dessau, Germany. Designed with Marcel Breuer.
1926 - The Kandinsky/Klee House, one of his "Master Houses" for Bauhaus faculty in Dessau, Germany.
1926 - The Muche/Schlemmer House, Dessau, Germany. One of the "Master Houses" for Bauhaus faculty, it was a duplex for Georg and El Muche and Oskar and Tut Schlemmer. Designed with Marcel Breuer.
1926 - The Feininger House, one of his "Master Houses" for Bauhaus faculty in Dessau, Germany.
1928 - The Kurt Lewin House,
Fischerhüttenstrabe 106, Berlin,
1929 - The Hans and Therese Zuckerkandl House, Weinbergstraße 4a, Jena, Germany.
1933 - The Maurer House, Am Erlenbusch 14a, Berlin, Germany.
1935 - The E. W and Ben Levy House,
66 Old Church Street, Chelsea, London, England.
1937 - The Jack and Frances Donaldson House, aka the Wood House, Upper Green Road, Shipbourne, Sussex, England. Designed with Maxwell Fry.
1938 - The Walter and Ise Frank Gropius House, his own at 68 Baker Bridge Road, Lincoln MA. Commissioned 1937, his first in the US. Gropius' benefactor, Mrs. James J. Storrow, offered him the site and the capital and was so pleased with the result that she allocated house sites to four other professors, two for whom Gropius designed homes. In keeping with Bauhaus philosophy, every aspect of the house and its surrounding landscape was planned for maximum efficiency and simplicity. The house caused a huge sensation and was declared a National Landmark in 2000.
When Gropius died in 1969, his wife, Ise Frank Gropius, deeded the property to the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities (SPNEA) in 1980. She continued to live in the house until shortly before her death in 1983. The house was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1988. Open to the public for tours. B/W photos by David Bohl.
1938 - The John Hagerty House, aka the Josephine Hagerty House, 357 Atlantic Avenue, Cohasset MA. Commissioned 1937 as a summer house for the client's mother. Designed with Marcel Breuer. Photos by Dean Kaufman. Sold three times; with several renovations. The fifth owner was a Ms. Sasseen who bought it in 2001 and was featured in DWELL. Sold to Janice Reiter.
1939 - The Marcel Breuer House I, 5 Woods End Road, Lincoln MA. Commissioned 1938. Designed with Marcel Breuer. Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1988. Sold in 1998 to Mark and Myrna Goldstein.
Second photo, from left: Herbert Bayer (back of head), Marian Willard (back), Ise Gropius (center), and Ati Gropius (above), ca. 1940. Right: Constance Breuer (at railing), Dottie Noyes (on bookshelf), and Christopher Tunnard, 1940.
1939 - The James Ford and Katherine Morrow Ford House, 10 Woods End Road, Lincoln MA. Commissioned 1938. Designed with Marcel Breuer. The owners were authors of many books on Modernist architecture. The house was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1988. Sold in 1971 to Karoly and Judith Balogh. BW photo by Ezra Stoller/ESTO.
1940 - The Robert and Cecelia Frank Residence, 96 East Woodland Road, Pittsburgh PA. Designed with Marcel Breuer. Commissioned in 1939 after the Franks visited Gropius' house in Lincoln MA. 12,000-sf, complete with a dining room that seats 24 people, curved glass facade, five terraces, nine bedrooms (three of which are servants quarters), 13 bathrooms and a 40x20 indoor swimming pool. Owned by their son Alan I. W. Frank. Color photos by Joe Marinaro and Pete Copeland. BW photos by Ezra Stoller/ESTO.
1942 to 1951 - Gropius and Konrad Wachsman designed prefabricated houses after WWII for General Panel Corporation. Like Lustron, this style lasted only a few years. General Panel houses consisted of wall and ceiling units that could be adjusted without structurally changing the building. Only a few hundred were built, including this one in California. Photo by Ezra Stoller/ESTO.
1944 - The Aluminum City Terrace housing project, East Hills Drive, New Kensington PA near Pittsburgh. Designed with Marcel Breuer. Built by the federal government to house defense workers during World War II. It continues to operate as a successful cooperative.
1948 - Clarence and Jeanette Howlett House, 69 Pinehurst Road, Belmont MA. Sold in 1960 to Pierre Du Pont IV. Sold in 1963 to Donald Shively. Sold in 1965 to Shepard and Evelyn Shapiro. Sold in 1975 to Elizabeth and Graham Allison.
1953 - The Wohnhaus Stichweh, Hannover,
Germany. Commissioned 1952.
1959 - The Carl and Dorotea Murchison Residence, 2 Commercial Street, Provincetown MA. 3.5 acres. Replaced a previous house that burned down in 1956. The Murchison house remains a mint-condition artifact of 1950s Modernism. The entrance, made of teak, was designed to evoke a Japanese temple. Walls of 8-foot windows flood the interior with natural light and provide 270-degree water views. Interior furnishings that were specially made include a Calder-like fixture with six dangling globe lights. A tube television is hidden, like a prop from an early James Bond movie, behind a door built into the living room's black-walnut paneled cabinetry. The large outdoor pool, with a view of Provincetown Harbor, was once the scene of large, swinging parties. Left in 1981 to their son, Powell. Sold in 2008, with the house preserved but the land divided into eight new house lots. Sold to Tylden B. Dowell.
Sources include: Boston Globe, Tobias Kaiser, Vitra Design Museum.
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