Walter Gropius

Walter Adolph Gropius was born May 18, 1883, in Berlin, Germany. His father was an architect, and Gropius followed suit, studying in Munich (from 1903-1904) and in Berlin-Charlottenburg (from 1905-1907). He also worked briefly in an architectural office in Berlin (1904) and served in the military (1904–05). Before completing school, Gropius built the farm labourers’ cottages in Pomerania in 1906. For a year, he travelled in Italy, Spain, and England and, in 1907, joined the office of the architect Peter Behrens in Berlin, in whose practice his lifelong interest in progressive architecture and interconnection of the arts would be shaped.

Fagus_Werk_Alfeld_Leine_vorne Gropius, Fagus Works (Fagus-Werk), Factory, 1911

However, he left Behrens in 1910, and established his own architecture practice in Berlin. His collaborative efforts are also noteworthy, in his work with Adolph Meyer in the design of the Fagus Works at Alfeld-an-der-Leine (in 1911) and the model office and factory buildings in Cologne (in 1914) done for the Werkbund Exposition. During that World War I, Gropius served as a cavalry officer on the Western Front, was wounded, and received the Iron Cross for bravery. In 1915 he married a widow, Alma (Schindler) Mahler, but they divorced in 1919. Their only child, Alma Manon, died in 1935.

027_154_haus_sommerfeld_0_0 Walter Gropius and Adolf Meyer, Sommerfeld House, Residence, 1920-1922

In April 1919, he became director of several schools, all of which were immediately united as Staatliches Bauhaus Weimar (“Public Bauhaus Weimar”). Gropius resigned as director of the Bauhaus in 1928 to return to practice privately as an architect in Berlin. From 1929 to 1930, he designed a portion of a housing colony in Berlin–Siemensstadt. Unsympathetic to the Nazi regime, he and his second wife, Ise Frank, whom he had married in 1923, left Germany secretly via Italy for exile in England in 1934. Gropius’ brief time in England was marked by collaboration with the architect Maxwell Fry that resulted in their important work, Village College at Impington, Cambridgeshire (in 1936).

In February 1937, Gropius arrived in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to become professor of architecture at Harvard University. The following year, he was made chairman of the department, a post he held until his retirement in 1952. In addition, Gropius collaborated with Marcel Breuer, a former Bauhaus pupil and later fellow teacher, from 1937 until 1940. In 1946, with six of his former Harvard pupils as partners, Gropius formed The Architects Collaborative (TAC), based in Cambridge; realizing many great projects, including the Harvard University Graduate Center (1949–50) and the United States Embassy in Athens (in 1960). Gropius exerted a major influence on the development of modern architecture, and died on July 5, 1969, in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A.

Works influenced/inspired by Gropius

DD20100720-faucets-4 Waterworks, The Henry Collection, Bathroom fittings, 2010

Kendall Albers Foundation 31 LR Eoghan Hoare, Director’s Waiting Room, Josef and Anni Albers Foundation building, 2015

References

Walter Gropius. Retrieved October 25, 2015, from http://www.britannica.com/biography/Walter-Gropius

Walter Gropius. Retrieved October 25, 2015, from http://www.walter-gropius.com/

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