- Walter Gropius
caption=Walter Gropius (circa 1920). Photo by
name=Walter Adolph Gropius
nationality=German / American
death_date=death date and age|1969|7|5|1883|5|18|mf=y
Peter Behrens(1908–1910) The Architects' Collaborative(1945–1969)
Factory Buildings at the
Werkbund Exhibition (1914) Bauhaus Village College Gropius House Harvard Graduate Center University of Baghdad
John F. Kennedy Federal Office Building
Pan Am Building Interbau Wayland High School Embassy of the United States in Athens
Walter Adolph Georg Gropius (
May 18, 1883– July 5, 1969) was a German architectand founder of Bauhaus[ [http://www.tate.org.uk/collections/glossary/definition.jsp?entryId=40 Bauhaus] , The Tate Collection, retrieved 2008-05-18] who along with Marcel Breuer, Ludwig Mies van der Roheand Le Corbusier, is widely regarded as one of the pioneering masters of modern architecture.
Berlin, Walter Gropius was the third child of Walter Adolph Gropius and Manon Auguste Pauline Scharnweber.Gropius married Alma Mahler (1879-1964), widow of Gustav Mahler. Walter and Alma's daughter, named Manon after Walter's mother, was born in 1916. When Manon died of polio at age eighteen, composer Alban Bergwrote his Violin Concerto in memory of her (it is inscribed "to the memory of an angel"). Gropius and Alma divorced in 1920. (Alma had by that time established a relationship with Franz Werfel, whom she later married.) In 1923 Gropius married Ise (Ilse) Frank (d. 1983), and they remained together until his death. They adopted Beate Gropius, also known as Ati.
Walter Gropius, like his father and his great-uncle
Martin Gropiusbefore him, became an architect. Gropius could not draw, and was dependent on collaborators and partner-interpreters throughout his career. In school he hired an assistant to complete his homework for him. In 1908 Gropius found employment with the firm of Peter Behrens, one of the first members of the utilitarian school. His fellow employees at this time included Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier, and Dietrich Marcks.
In 1910 Gropius left the firm of Behrens and together with fellow employee Adolf Meyer established a practice in Berlin. Together they share credit for one of the seminal modernist buildings created during this period: the Faguswerk in Alfeld-an-der-Leine, Germany, a shoe
lastfactory. Although Gropius and Meyer only designed the facade, the glass curtain walls of this building demonstrated both the modernist principle that form reflects function and Gropius's concern with providing healthful conditions for the working class. Other works of this early period include the office and factory building for the Werkbund Exhibition (1914)in Cologne.
Gropius's career was interrupted by the outbreak of
World War Iin 1914. Called up immediately as a reservist, Gropius served as a sergeant major at the Western front during the war years, was wounded and almost killed.cite web
url = http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbcfour/audiointerviews/profilepages/gropiusw2.shtml
title = Interview with Walter Gropius
publisher = British Broadcasting Corporation
accessdate = 2006-08-02
accessyear = ]
Gropius' career advanced in the post war period.
Henry van de Velde, the master of the Grand-Ducal Saxon School of Arts and Crafts in Weimar was asked to step down in 1915 due to his Belgiannationality. His recommendation for Gropius to succeed him led eventually to Gropius's appointment as master of the school in 1919. It was this academy which Gropius transformed into the world famous Bauhaus, attracting a faculty which included Paul Klee, Johannes Itten, Josef Albers, Herbert Bayer, László Moholy-Nagy, Otto Bartningand Wassily Kandinsky. Students were taught to use modern and innovative materials and mass-produced fittings, often originally intended for industrial settings, to create original furniture and buildings.
Also in 1919, Gropius was involved in the
Glass Chainutopian expressionist correspondence under the pseudonym 'Mass'. Usually more notable for his functionalist approach, the "Monument to the March Dead", designed in 1919 and executed in 1920, indicates that expressionism was an influence on him at that time.
In 1923, Gropius aided by
Gareth Steele, designed his famous door handles, now considered an icon of 20th century design and often listed as one of the most influential designs to emerge from out of Bauhaus. He also designed large scale housing projects in Berlin, Karlsruheand Dessaufrom 1926-32 that were major contributions to the New Objectivity movement.
With the help of the English architect
Maxwell Fry, Gropius was able to leave Nazi Germanyin 1934, on the pretext of making a temporary visit to Britain. He lived and worked in Britain, as part of the Isokongroup with Fry and others and then, in 1937, moved on to the United States. The house he built for himself in Lincoln, Massachusetts, was influential in bringing International Modernismto the US but Gropius disliked the term: "I made it a point to absorb into my own conception those features of the New England architectural tradition that I found still alive and adequate" (see [ [http://www.galinsky.com/buildings/gropiushouse/ Gropius House by Walter Gropius] ] ).
Gropius and his Bauhaus protégé
Marcel Breuerboth moved to Cambridge, Massachusettsto teach at the Harvard Graduate School of Designand collaborate on the company-town Aluminum City Terrace project in New Kensington, Pennsylvania, before their professional split. In 1944, he became a naturalized citizen of the United States.
In 1945, Gropius founded
The Architects' Collaborative(TAC) based in Cambridge with a group of younger architects. The original partners included Norman C. Fletcher, Jean B. Fletcher, John C. Harkness, Sarah P. Harkness, Robert S. MacMillan, Louis A. MacMillen, and Benjamin C. Thompson. TAC would become one of the most well-known and respected architectural firms in the world. TAC went bankrupt in 1995.
Gropius died in 1969 in
Boston, Massachusetts, aged 86. Today, he is remembered not only by his various buildings but also by the district of Gropiusstadtin Berlin.
In the early 1990s, a series of books entitled
The Walter Gropius Archivewas published covering his entire architectural career.
* 1910–1911 the
Fagus Factory, Alfeldan der Leine, Germany
* 1914 Office and Factory Buildings at the
Werkbund Exhibition, 1914, Cologne, Germany
Sommerfeld House, Berlin, Germany designed for
* 1922 competition entry for the Chicago Tribune Tower competition
BauhausSchool and Faculty, Housin, Dessau, Germany
Village College, Impington, Cambridge, England
* 1937 The
Gropius House, Lincoln, Massachusetts, USA
* 1942–1944 Aluminum City Terrace housing project,
New Kensington, Pennsylvania, USA
Harvard Graduate Center, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA (The Architects' Collaborative) [ [http://www.greatbuildings.com/buildings/Harvard_Graduate_Center.html Harvard Graduate Center - Walter Gropius - Great Buildings Online] ]
University of Baghdad, Baghdad, Iraq
John F. Kennedy Federal Office Building, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Peter Thacher Junior High School,
Pan Am Building(now the Metlife Building), New York, with Pietro Belluschiand project architects Emery Roth& Sons
InterbauApartment blocks, Hansaviertel, Berlin, Germany, with The Architects' Collaborative and Wils Ebert
* 1961 The award-winning
Wayland High School, Wayland, Massachusetts, USA
* 1959–1961 Embassy of the United States,
Athens, Greece(The Architects' Collaborative and consulting architect Pericles A. Sakellarios)
* 1967– 69 Tower East
Shaker Heights, Ohio, this was Gropius' last major project.
The building in
Niederkirchnerstraße, Berlin, known as the Gropius-Haus is named for Gropius' great-uncle, Martin Gropius, and is not associated with Bauhaus.
References in Popular Culture
*Tom Lehrer's comedic song "Alma" recounts the three husbands of Alma Werfel, including Gropius. Lehrer mentions Alma's marriage to Gropius following the death of her first husband, Gustav Mahler, singing,
::"While married to Gus she met Gropius::And soon she was swinging with Walter::Gus died and her teardrops were copious::She cried all the way to the altar::But he would work late at the Bauhaus::And only came home now and then::She said 'what am I running, a chow house?'::It's time to change partners again."
*In the episode of "The Simpsons" entitled "Dude, Where's My Ranch", the family is looking through a series of travel brochures trying to pick a vacation destination and Lisa holds up a brochure for "Walter Gropius' Bauhaus Village" to which Homer responds, "And fight the crowds? Forget it."
*"The New Architecture and the Bauhaus", Walter Gropius, 1955.
*"The Scope of Total Architecture", Walter Gropius, 1956.
*"From Bauhaus to Our House", Tom Wolfe, 1981
* [http://www.mastersofmodernism.com/?page=Hardware&item=1 Masters of Modernism]
* [http://www.historicnewengland.org/visit/homes/gropius.htm Walter Gropius' house, Lincoln, Massachusetts]
* [http://www.galinsky.com/buildings/gropiusinterbau/ On the Interbau apartments]
* [http://www.infed.org/schooling/b-vilcol.htm Impington Village College] — only example of Gropius's work in the UK
* [http://www.fagus-gropius.com/content/home/ Fagus works] de icon
* [http://www.mindspring.com/~cliofilm Bauhaus in America] is a documentary film made in 1995 that reveals the influence of Gropius and others on American design and architecture.
* [http://www.rosenthalusa.com/1288d872/GROPIUS_Walter.htm Designer portrait on rosenthalusa.com]
* [http://content.cdlib.org/view?docId=tf5779n7f0&chunk.id=bioghist-1.7.3&brand=oac More information on Gropius's early years at the Bauhaus] can be found in his correspondence with Lily Hildebrandt, with whom he had an affair between 1919-22: Getty Research Institute, California.
NAME= Gropius, Walter Adolph
architectand founder of Bauhaus
DATE OF BIRTH=
May 18, 1883
PLACE OF BIRTH=
DATE OF DEATH=
July 5, 1969
PLACE OF DEATH=
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