Walter Gropius

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Walter Gropius : 

Walter Gropius Visionary, Leader, Teacher By Christopher Chance

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Walter Adolph Georg Gropius (May 18, 1883 ~ July 5, 1969) Head of the Bauhaus School of Design 1919 ~ 1929

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Early Life Born in Berlin, Germany . Walter Gropius was the third child of Walter Adolph Gropius and Manon Auguste Pauline Scharnweber. Gropius married Alma Mahler, Walter and Alma had a daughter named Manon after Walter’s mother. Manon died of polio at the young age of 18. Walter and Alma divorced in 1920 due to her relationship with another man. In 1923 Walter married Llse Frank, and adopted Beate Gropius. Manon, Walter & Alma Gropius Llse Gropius

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Early Career Like his father and great Uncle Gropius became an architect. Due to the fact he could not draw he hired an assistant to help him with his homework in school. Gropius found employment at the Peter Behrens firm in 1908 along with Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier and Dietrich Marcks. He left Behrens in 1910 to start a firm of his own with partner Adolf Meyer; together they designed the Faguswerk building one of the seminal modernist buildings of the time. In 1914 Gropius served as a Sergeant Major at the Western Front, he was wounded and almost died. The FagusWerks building

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The Bauhaus Era In 1919 Gropius was named master of the Grand –Ducal Saxon School of Arts and Crafts, which he and fellow faculty members Wassily Kadinsky , Paul Klee, Herbert Bayer, Josef Albers and others renamed the Bauhaus. Students were taught to use innovation and modern materials to create original furniture and buildings, using a functionalist approach. In 1923 Gropius designed his famous door handles a 20th century icon. In 1934 Walter pretending to be taking a temporary trip to Britain, left Germany for good. In 1937 he immigrated to the United States, where he lived in Lincoln, Massachusetts then Cambridge where he taught at Harvard. He died in 1969 at the age of 86.

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Rosenthal Tea Set (1968-1970) A Tea set for 2. This is the best expression of Gropius view of art, functional, yet still art. The whole set is black, save the cups. It appears all the black pieces support the 2 white cups which are drank from, an apparent industrial process, which comes down to the cups like an assembly line. “Architecture begins where engineering ends ~ W. Gropius

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Factory Office Building for Werkbund Exhibition A perspective drawing of a very futuristic building design for 1914. Very advanced architectural drawing, very clean lines. A good technical piece. Use of shading and lines supports the perspective view, it appears close to blueprint quality. I am not aware if this building was ever really constructed. It incorporates shape and space as well as scale. Proportion is accurate for this perspective. The emphasis is on the left front side of the building. “Specialists are people who always repeat the same mistakes” ~ W. Gropius

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The Kallenbach Residence A site plan in ink/colored wash which shows unity and variety in its line use, it also shows asymmetrical balance . This drawing shows scale as it must being a floor plan. Its design shows proximity and repetition in the landscaping boulder placement. It shows shape and space. Its unorthodox lines create their own emphasis. It reminds me of a tapestry or quilt. “A modern, harmonic and lively architecture is the visible sign of an authentic Democracy.” ~ Walter Gropius

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The Otte Residence A perspective drawing of an advanced house design. The front of the house shows hierarchy and dominance as your eyes circle the house L~R. To me the scale seems off, which is weird for Gropius. The windows seem off as well. This image shows shape and space. Its lines are strong straight, with an industrial look. “Only work which is he product of inner compulsion can have spiritual meaning.” ~ Walter Gropius

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Paper Factory Building (1923-1924) This is a very striking use of simple line, showing unity and variety with its window placement. A wonderful use of proportion and scale. It possesses proximity and repetition. A clever use of shape and space. Clean straight line with the exception of the one arc on the roof. There is no texture, and the only color is the door placement. “If your contribution has been vital there will always be somebody to pick up where you left off, and that will be your claim to immortality. ~Walter Gropius

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Fredrich Frobel House 1:200 (1924)(Basement Plan) An ink on paper house design showing Gropius use of proportion and balance as well as scale (1:200) Very intricate and technical for a basement plan. The shape and space are clearly evident and once again we see straight line with the one arc. “Society needs a good image of itself. That is the job of an architect. ~ Walter Gropius

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Conclusion To say that I could accurately sum up the impact of Gropius’ career would be foolish of me. As it would be to ignore his contribution to not only architecture or art, but to mankind. His views and applications of combining art and technology are something that is still being strove for today. He set a high mark standard that other designers hope someday to make. His vision is a force that has since guided the field of design to continually create an abundance of products that make life for us easier and more beautiful.

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Works CIted 2009. April 2010 < Damora, Robert. Ilse Gropius relaxing on the second floor terrace. Artes Magazine. Lincoln, m.d. Domain, Public. “Manon, Walter & Alma Gropius.” 1918 Gropius, Walter. Factory Office Building for Werkbund Exhibition. Cambridge. Gropius, Walter. Fredrich Frobel House 1:200 (Basement Plan). Gropius, Walter. Kallenbach Residence. Cambridge Gropius, Walter. Otte Residence Sketch. Cambridge Gropius, Walter. Paper Factory Building. Cambridge

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Works Cited II Gropius, Walter. Rosenthal Tea Set. San Francisco Museum of Art, San Francisco. Reiss, Mike. 2010. 17 April 2010 <>

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