Gropius, Walter Adolf

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b. 18 May 1883 Berlin, Germany
d. 5 July 1969 Boston, USA
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German co-founder of the modern movement of architecture.
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A year after he began practice as an architect, Gropius was responsible for the pace-setting Fagus shoe-last factory at Alfeld-an-der-Leine in Germany, one of the few of his buildings to survive the Second World War. Today the building does not appear unusual, but in 1911 it was a revolutionary prototype, heralding the glass curtain walled method of non-load-bearing cladding that later became ubiquitous. Made from glass, steel and reinforced concrete, this factory initiated a new concept, that of the International school of modern architecture.
In 1919 Gropius was appointed to head the new School of Art and Design at Weimar, the Staatliches Bauhaus. The school had been formed by an amalgamation of the Grand Ducal schools of fine and applied arts founded in 1906. Here Gropius put into practice his strongly held views and he was so successful that this small college, which trained only a few hundred students in the limited years of its existence, became world famous, attracting artists, architects and students of quality from all over Europe.
Gropius's idea was to set up an institution where students of all the arts and crafts could work together and learn from one another. He abhorred the artificial barriers that had come to exist between artists and craftsmen and saw them all as interdependent. He felt that manual dexterity was as essential as creative design. Every Bauhaus student, whatever the individual's field of work or talent, took the same original workshop training. When qualified they were able to understand and supervise all the aesthetic and constructional processes that made up the scope of their work.
In 1924, because of political changes, the Weimar Bauhaus was closed, but Gropius was invited to go to Dessau to re-establish it in a new purpose-built school which he designed. This group of buildings became a prototype that designers of the new architectural form emulated. Gropius left the Bauhaus in 1928, only a few years before it was finally closed due to the growth of National Socialism. He moved to England in 1934, but because of a lack of architectural opportunities and encouragement he continued on his way to the USA, where he headed the Department of Architecture at Harvard University's Graduate School of Design from 1937 to 1952. After his retirement from there Gropius formed the Architect's Collaborative and, working with other architects such as Marcel Breuer and Pietro Belluschi, designed a number of buildings (for example, the US Embassy in Athens (1960) and the Pan Am Building in New York (1963)).
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Bibliography
1984, Scope of Total Architecture, Allen \& Unwin.
Further Reading
N.Pevsner, 1936, Pioneers of the Modern Movement: From William Morris to Walter Gropius, Penguin.
C.Jenck, 1973, Modern Movements in Architecture, Penguin.
H.Probst and C.Shädlich, 1988, Walter Gropius, Berlin: Ernst \& Son.
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Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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