The last founding member of The Architects' Collaborative (TAC), John Harkness, died yesterday at the age of 100. A 1941 graduate of Harvard, Harkness co-founded TAC with his wife Sarah Harkness, five other architects, and Walter Gropius, in 1945. They submitted entries for a competition to design dormitories for Smith College which they did not win but they became famous for designing scores of post-war modern buildings all over New England. These buildings were important in creating an American modernism and furthering the idea of the architect's social responsibility. In 2002 Harkness told The Boston Globe: “We were on a mission to make a better world after the war… We all believed deeply in modern architecture. We used clean, simple lines and modern materials. There is no reference to traditional styles, just a desire to create what is appropriate for the purpose at hand.”
Posts tagged with "Walter Gropius":
Bauhaus, a new digital resource devoted to the influential school of art and design, gives users access to more than 32,000 objects from across the 14 years that the Bauhaus existed. The collection includes textiles, photographs, class notes, paintings, and ephemera by the likes of Josef and Ani Albers, Marcel Breuer, Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, László Moholy-Nagy, and others. The objects were originally gathered by Bauhaus founder and Harvard professor Walter Gropius to help demonstrate the influence the school had on American design. The digital collection will lead to a major exhibition in 2019, which is the centennial anniversary of the Bauhaus. “The Busch-Reisinger Museum’s Bauhaus-related holdings make up nearly three-fourths of its total collection,” said Lynette Roth, Daimler curator of the Busch-Reisinger Museum at the Harvard Art Museums in a press release. There are currently five sections to the collection: “Holdings,” which groups the artifacts by media, discipline, theme, designer, etc., “The Bauhaus and Harvard,” an essay that explains the relationship between the two schools, an annotated map of Boston that marks the institutions and architectural points of interest related to Gropius and the Bauhaus, a chronology of the school’s activities, and a bibliography of archives, exhibitions, and other resources. “We wanted to create a central place to organize the Harvard Art Museums’ Bauhaus materials to help students, scholars, and the public find their way through the collections and discover new artists and objects,” said Robert Wiesenberger, the 2014–16 Stefan Engelhorn curatorial fellow in the Busch-Reisinger Museum at the Harvard Art Museums in a press release. “In short,” Wiesenberger added, “to make good on the founding promise of this being a study collection.”
Funding shortages, insufficient knowledge of materials and technology, and conflicting interests are often the hurdles that preservationists face in the fight to save 20th century modernist landmarks. In recent years we've lost Bertrand Goldberg's Prentice Women's Hospital in Chicago and Neutra's Cyclorama at Gettysburg to demolition, and soon Paul Rudolph's Government Center in Goshen will likely meet the same sad fate. The Getty Foundation, however, is taking steps to protect other significant buildings of this period through its second annual Keeping it Modern grant initiative, totaling $1.75 million. The organization announced 14 international projects that will receive grant funding, including such buildings as Frank Lloyd Wright’s Unity Temple, Walter Gropius’ residence ‘The Gropius House,’ and João Batista Vilanova Artigas and Carlos Cascaldi’s School of Architecture and Urbanism at the University of São Paulo (FAUUSP). “Last year’s launch of Keeping It Modern emphasized that modern architecture is a defining artistic form of the 20th century at considerable risk, often due to the cutting-edge building materials that characterized the movement,” said Deborah Marrow, director of the Getty Foundation. “This new round of Keeping It Modern grants includes some of the finest examples of modern architecture in the world. The grant projects address challenges for the field of architectural conservation and will have impact far beyond the individual buildings to be conserved.” Below, see the remaining projects.
Built in 1970 by prolific Cape Cod–based architect Charles Zehnder, the Frank Lloyd Wright–inspired Kugel Gips house spent nearly a decade unoccupied and in disrepair while under ownership of the National Park Service (NPS). Abandoned and rotting, the compact Modernist home was nearly lost to the idyllic peninsula’s salty winds, and worse yet, the wrecking ball, until Wellfleet, Massachusetts–based architect Peter McMahon and the Cape Cod Modernist Trust (CCMT) stepped in. As part of their mission to preserve and document the Cape’s rich Modernist heritage—a legacy of 80 homes by local and European-born architects like Marcel Breuer, Serge Chermayeff and Nathaniel Saltonstall—McMahon and a group of around 35 volunteers have faithfully restored the house, opening it up to visitors, vacationers, scholars, and artists. Following the outbreak of World War II and their subsequent migration to New England, seminal Bauhaus figures like Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer were drawn to Cape Cod by its pristine natural environment, cheap, undeveloped land, and the open minds of the local artistic and architectural community. On parcels costing as little as $1,000, architects constructed simple, experimental summer cottages with budget materials and intimate connections to their natural surroundings. “The designs were very intentional,” CCMT founder McMahon told the Boston Globe in 2009. “There’s a lifestyle implied by these buildings, one that recognizes the importance of nature, creativity, and sustainability, one that says you don’t need a lot to be happy” Featuring a large cantilevered roof, exposed concrete, wood shingles, two decks and gracious windows overlooking a nearby kettle pond, the 2,200-square-foot, three-bedroom house is the first restoration undertaken by the CCMT. Commissioned by Peter and Judy Kugel, both Boston academics, the house was built within the boundaries of the Cape Cod National Seashore and in 1998 was acquired through eminent domain by the NPS for $80,000 before falling into disrepair. Thanks to a generous $100,000 contribution from the town of Wellfleet and the pro bono services of Manhattan based Fox Diehl Architects, along with the sweat of McMahon and his volunteers, the home now looks as good as it did 43 years ago. Seven such Modernist homes are owned by the NPS, five of which were in poor condition and scheduled for demolition before the Massachusetts Historical Commission deemed them significant specimens of postwar Modern residential architecture. The CCMT has since acquired long term leases on the five properties and plans to make them available for educational programs, summer rentals, and scholar and artist residencies. Over the summer, the CCMT completed renovations of the Jack Hall-designed Hatch cottage, and in October the organization raised over $60,000 via Kickstarter for the restoration of the Weidlinger house, designed Hungarian Modernist Paul Weidlinger. According to the CCMT, Gropius, Breuer, and Le Corbusier all weighed in on Weidlinger's design, with Corbusier reportedly commenting "don't pave the driveway." But it is not the publicly owned properties that are in real danger. Times have changed and land prices have escalated since Breuer built his pair of houses on the Cape for $5,000 each. For many would-be residents, the modest scale and off-the-shelf materials of these mid-century relics are not worth saving when a beachside McMansion would fit nicely in their place.
Miss out on your Bauhaus opportunity because you were not an artistic youth in 1920s and 1930s Germany? Now, architecture and design enthusiasts can revive their desired pasts as students at Walter Gropius’ iconic design school, at least in sleeping accommodations. The Bauhaus School of Design in Dessau, Germany has converted one of its studio buildings into a boutique hotel with dormitory-style rooms for overnight rental. Visitors can spend the night in spaces that once housed some of the biggest names in modern architecture, when they were still just students. From 1923 to 1935, the Bauhaus studio building contained 28 rooms for architecture students studying at the school. Now, hotel clients can choose from 20 different spaces, each furnished with the steel tube furniture of architect, designer, and former Bauhaus instructor Marcel Breuer in recreation of the original dormitory accommodations. Select rooms have been designed to reflect some of the Bauhaus’ most famous alumni. Beginning in late October, these specialty rooms can be rented out, according to the visitor’s architectural preference. Among these dorms, the New York Times’ T Magazine says, is a room in the style of Josef Albers that contains replicas of the furniture he created for himself while at the design school and another, representing architect Franz Ehrlich, decorated with furniture he designed for the German Democratic Republic in the 1950s. The Bauhaus Studio Building offers single accommodations from €35 and doubles from €55. But, be warned, like in the Bauhaus’ student dorm days, bathrooms and showers are communal and accessed from the hallway.
The Department of State’s Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO) announced yesterday its shortlist of design firms to rehabilitate the Walter Gropius-designed US Embassy building in Greece, known as the Athens Chancery. The four firms were selected out of an applicant pool of 56 submissions, and include: Ann Beha Architects, DesignLab Architects, Machado Silvetti / Baker, and Mark Cavagnero Associates. “The shortlisted submissions presented projects that were well-conceived and well-executed, displaying a sophisticated understanding of the issues involved in renovating historically significant buildings and experience with rehabilitations of complex modern structures,” the OBO said in a statement. While in keeping with a modernist aesthetic, the building, completed in 1961, is also a nod to the Parthenon with its white columns and marble facade. Following the selection, the four firms will be expected to establish their technical teams and provide more detailed information on their work and experience for the next phase of consideration.