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 architecture but made everything from buildings to the furniture and art.
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, 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 become one of the most well-known and respected design firms in the world. Sadly, it went bankrupt in 1995 after many major projects it was planning in Iraq were cancelled.
Gropius' only building in North Carolina is in Greensboro - the 1946 Container Corporation of America building, 2600 East Market Street, still standing as of 2018.
Along with Frank Lloyd Wright, Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier, and Marcel Breuer, he was one of the most influential modern architects of the 20th century. One of his last buildings was the Playboy Club in London.
1922 - The Adolf Sommerfeld House, Berlin-Dahlem, Limonenstrabe 30, Germany. Commissioned 1920. Glazing, lighting, carvings and metal screens all came from the Bauhaus shops. Designed with Adolph Meyer. Destroyed around 1945.
1926 - The Walter Gropius House, Ebertallee, 06846 Dessau-Roßlau, Germany. Commissioned 1925. One of the four Masters Houses for Bauhaus faculty. Designed with Marcel Breuer. Destroyed in WWII. A single-family home with a pitched roof was erected on the site but was destroyed several decades later. A re-imagined version of the original (not a rebuild) was completed around 2014.
1926 - The Moholy-Nagy / Feininger Duplex, Ebertallee, 06846 Dessau-Roßlau, Germany. One of the Masters Houses for Bauhaus faculty. Designed with Marcel Breuer. Destroyed in WWII. A re-imagined version of the original (not a rebuild) was completed around 2014.
1926 - The Wassily Kandinsky/Paul Klee House, Ebertallee, 06846 Dessau-Roßlau, Germany. One of the Masters Houses for Bauhaus faculty. Restored in 2019. Open for tours.
1926 - The George Muche and Oskar and Tut Schlemmer Duplex, Ebertallee, 06846 Dessau-Roßlau, Germany. One of the Master Houses for Bauhaus faculty.
1928 - The Kurt and Gertrude Lewin Remodel, Fischerhüttenstrabe 106, Berlin, Germany. Commissioned 1928. Designed with Peter Behrens.
In 1930, Kurt Lewin, a renowned experimental psychologist, and his wife Gertrude hired Marcel Breuer to remodel the house originally designed by Peter Behrens (architectural mentor to Gropius). Together the two creators revised Behrens original plans and designed custom furniture for the dining room, study, bedrooms and kitchen. The approach of the research rationalist Behrens is confirmed by the presence of the flat roof, the two-dimensional slab jutting out into the cement and the total absence of ornamentation. The house has undergone some restoration with amenities repaired, however, some items of furniture (metal frames, stair railing, doors, cabinets, etc.) desired by the architect and client have been retained. -- Alice Coombs, MA University of York
1929 - The Hans and Therese Zuckerkandl House, Weinbergstrabe 4a, Jena, Germany.
1933 - The Gass/Bahner House, Kleinmachnow (greater Berlin), Tucholskyhöhe 11, Germany. Commissioned 1932. Sold to architect Walter Schützler. Listed as a national monument.
1933 - The Maurer House, Am Erlenbusch 14a, Berlin, Germany.
1935 - The E. W and Benn Levy House, 66 Old Church Street, Chelsea, London, England. Designed with Maxwell Fry. For sale for the first time in 40 years in 2018.
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, 68 Baker Bridge Road, Lincoln MA. Commissioned 1937, his first house in the US. Gropius' benefactor, Helen 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 of which Gropius designed homes. The house caused a huge sensation.
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. Declared a National Landmark in 2000. Open to the public for tours. B/W photos by David Bohl. Color photos by Jack K. Marshall.
1938 - The John Hagerty House, aka the Josephine Hagerty House, 357 Atlantic Avenue, Cohasset MA. Commissioned 1937 for John Hagerty 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 in 2001 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), circa 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. Marcel Breuer only participated a little bit on the design, if at all. The original owners were authors of many books on Modernist architecture. Featured in Architectural Record, March 1940. Katherine Morrow Ford moved to New York City in the 1950's and committed suicide in 1959. Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1988. Sold in 1971 to Karoly and Judith Balogh. B/W 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 as of 2012 by their son Alan I. W. Frank. Color photos by Joe Marinaro and Pete Copeland. BW photos by Ezra Stoller/ESTO.
1940 - The Chamberlain Cottage, 68 Moore Road (aka Wayside Road), Wayland (aka Sudbury) MA. Designed with Walter Gropius. On considerable acreage. Has been renovated and expanded. Part of the movie The Surrogates was filmed there. Sold in 2005 to Perry and Amy Beckett. Top photo by Ezra Stoller/ESTO. Deeded to Perry Beckett/68 Moore Road.
1941 - The Abele House, 325 Winter Street, Framingham MA. Designed with Marcel Breuer. Photos by Ezra Stoller/ESTO. Sold in 1992. Sold in 1995 to Oded Feingold and Andrea Haber.
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. As of 2012, it continues to operate as a successful cooperative.
1948 - The Clarence and Jeanette Howlett House, 69 Pinehurst Road, Belmont MA. Designed with Benjamin Thompson of The Architects Collaborative. 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. Occupied by the German Association of Architects Lower Saxony.
1954 - The John Bunker House, 607 Main Street, Concord MA. Gropius was involved but the lead architect was John (Chip) Harkness. Sold in 1960 to George and Alice Shea Valley, Jr. Sold in 2008 to Anthony D. and Mary Mallows. They renovated it back to its original exterior, adding a second floor studio above the existing two-car garage, plus new floors, walls, ceilings, plumbing and mechanical systems. Sold in 2015 to Judith Bramhill. Video.
1959 - The Carl and Dorotea Murchison Residence, 2 Commercial Street, Provincetown MA. 3.5 acres. Replaced a house that burned down in 1956. The entrance of teak was designed to evoke a Japanese temple. Walls of 8-foot windows flooded the interior with natural light and provided 270-degree water views. A tube television is hidden, like a prop from an early James Bond movie, behind a cabinet door. 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.