WALTER GROPIUS (1883 – 1969)
Walter Gropius was born in Berlin on May 18, 1883. Today he is still considered to be one of the cofounders of modern architecture together with “Le Corbusier” and “Ludwig Mies van der Rohe”.
At the age of 20, Walter Gropius started to study architecture at the technical university in Munich. He continued his studies in Charlottenburg but never finished them. In 1907 he started to work at the office of “Peter Behrens”. “Le Corbusier” and “Ludwig Mies van der Rohe” also worked there at the same time.
Three years later Walter Gropius began his career as a freelance architect and industrial designer. Apart from furniture and wallpapers, Gropius also designed cars and even a diesel locomotive. The Fagus plant in Alfeld was Gropius´ first big object as an architect. This construction made of glass and steel is considered to be the authoritative work for the style of architecture that later became famous as the so called “New Objectivity” or “New Building”.
From 1919, Walter Gropius worked as the director of the „university of fine arts“ in Weimar, which he later renamed „the State Bauhaus in Weimar“ – the cornerstone of the world famous Bauhaus style.
During the time of National Socialism, Walter Gropius had to flee Germany: the Bauhaus was then called the „church of Marxism“. Afterwards Gropius worked as a professor at the Harvard University for several years. It was only during the last years of his life that he came back to Berlin more often. In 1960 he built the very well known but not always loved „Gropiusstadt“ (Gropius city) there.
Buildings like the „Gropiusstadt“ are responsible for the controversially discussed reputation of Walter Gropius. His ideas of the “industrialization of architecture” and the “box of bricks on a large scale” still lay the cornerstone for the prefabricated buildings on this earth. So his critics often state that Walter Gropius neglected the needs of the occupants.
Walter Gropius´ furniture designs are also very plain and simple and therefore are not everyone’s cup of tea. They are sober, edged and unfussy, but all of them are design classics and nothing will compare to them.
Walter Gropius died in Boston, Massachusetts on July 5, 1969.