it's your birthday, mr. gropius
Cheers to the Bauhaus master.
Walter Gropius, founder of the Bauhaus and pioneering master of Modernism was born May 18, 1883 (that's tomorrow). Revered designer, teacher, and advocate of the Modernist philosophy, Gropius remains one of the key figures of Modern architecture. While his early work in Germany (Fagus Factory, Dessau Bauhaus) is seen as a cornerstone of the Modern movement, his house in Lincoln, Massachusetts, is one of the most complete examples of Gropius' vision and integrity. So on the day before the architect's birthday, let's take a look at this American masterpiece.
Upon accepting a teaching position at Harvard's Graduate School of Design in 1937, Walter Gropius began designing a residence (with the help of his wife, Ise, daughter Ati, and partner Marcel Breuer) on a pastoral piece of property just northwest of Boston. After securing funding from a generous local patron, Helen Osborne Storrow, Gropius designed a "white box" that reflected both the local vernacular traditions of New England and the Modernist teachings of the Bauhaus. Combining regional building practices (wood clapboard, brick, fieldstone) with mass-produced and prefabricated materials (glass block, steel sash windows, I-beams), Gropius created a residence that was modern and traditional, regional and international, stable and disruptive. It served as a working experiment for the Bauhaus credo and a living model that challenged his students. Modest in scale and simple in finishings, the house proved revolutionary, appearing in countless publications after its completion and influencing a generation of American architects.
Today the collaborative design of the Gropius House remains one of the most significant examples of Modernism in the United States and stands as a testament to Gropius' influence on the architectural landscape of the twentieth century. In 2000, the iconic house became a National Historic Landmark and is currently run by Historic New England as a house museum.
If you're interested, you should definitely read more about the Gropius House, here and here. If you just want to look at some photographs, enjoy the selection below.
All photographs on today's post are part of the Library of Congress's HABS collection (MA-1228).
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