Happy Birthday to Walter Gropius born on this day way back on May 18, 1883. He was an architect and founder of the influential Bauhaus School as well as it’s first and longest director. He is widely accepted as one of the pioneering architects behind the modernist style.
The Pan Am Building (1958-1963) later renamed the MetLife Building after the defunct airline moved its corporate offices from the building. It was designed by Walter Gropius and Pietro Belluschi in the International Style.
The International Style is a style of modern architecture that has the characteristic lines of modern architecture and use of materials without the social implications. The term was first used by Phillip Johnson in 1932.
Around 1915 Gropius began his work with and on the Bauhaus. Eventually transforming the institution into legendary status and attracting a faculty that included Paul Klee, Johannes Itten, Josef Albers, Herbert Bayer, László Moholy-Nagy, Otto Bartning and Wassily Kandinsky.
And in 1919 Gropius became the director of the Bauhaus and remained its director until 1932.
Gropius ultimately, along with Marcel Breuer, began teaching at the Harvard Graduate School of Design and in 1938 was appointed the chairman of the architecture department at Harvard a position he held until 1952. In 1944 he became a full citizen of the United States of America and 1946 he founded TAC (The Architects’ Collaborative) and maintained its influence on the canon of architecture until it’s bankruptcy in 1995. In 1967, Gropius was elected into the National Academy of Design as an Associate member, and became a full Academician in 1968.
Gropius succumbed and died on July 6, 1969 in Boston, Massachusetts, aged 86.
Few dream as big, live with such tenacity and vision to achieve what Gropius did in his lifetime.
“The Bauhaus was not an institution… it was an idea.”
– Mies van der Rohe
Though this quote is attributed to Mies (also a director at the Bauhaus in 1953) it does sum up what Gropius worked toward and ultimately achieved with his creation of the Bauhaus.
– Geoffrey Lee