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Walter Adolph Georg Gropius (May 18, 1883 – July 5, 1969) was a German architect and founder of Bauhaus who along with Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Le Corbusier, is widely regarded as one of the pioneering masters of modern architecture.
Born in Berlin, Walter Gropius was the third child of Walter Adolph Gropius and Manon Auguste Pauline Scharnweber. Gropius married Alma Mahler (1879-1964), widow of Gustav Mahler.
In 1908 Gropius found employment with the firm of Peter Behrens, one of the first members of the utilitarian school. His fellow employees at this time included Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier, and Dietrich Marcks.
In 1910 Gropius left the firm of Behrens and together with fellow employee Adolf Meyer established a practice in Berlin. Together they share credit for one of the seminal modernist buildings created during this period: the Faguswerk in Alfeld-an-der-Leine, Germany, a shoe last factory. Although Gropius and Meyer only designed the facade, the glass curtain walls of this building demonstrated both the modernist principle that form reflects function and Gropius's concern with providing healthful conditions for the working class. Other works of this early period include the office and factory building for the Werkbund Exhibition (1914) in Cologne.
Gropius's career was interrupted by the outbreak of World War I in 1914. Called up immediately as a reservist, Gropius served as a sergeant major at the Western front during the war years, was wounded and almost killed.
Gropius' career advanced in the post war period. Henry van de Velde, the master of the Grand-Ducal Saxon School of Arts and Crafts in Weimar was asked to step down in 1915 due to his Belgian nationality. His recommendation for Gropius to succeed him led eventually to Gropius's appointment as master of the school in 1919. It was this academy which Gropius transformed into the world famous Bauhaus, attracting a faculty which included Paul Klee, Johannes Itten, Josef Albers, Herbert Bayer, László Moholy-Nagy, Otto Bartning and Wassily Kandinsky. Students were taught to use modern and innovative materials and mass-produced fittings, often originally intended for industrial settings, to create original furniture and buildings.
Also in 1919, Gropius was involved in the Glass Chain utopian expressionist correspondence under the pseudonym 'Mass'. Usually more notable for his functionalist approach, the "Monument to the March Dead", designed in 1919 and executed in 1920, indicates that expressionism was an influence on him at that time.
In 1923, Gropius aided by Gareth Steele, designed his famous door handles, now considered an icon of 20th century design and often listed as one of the most influential designs to emerge from out of Bauhaus. He also designed large scale housing projects in Berlin, Karlsruhe and Dessau from 1926-32 that were major contributions to the New Objectivity movement.(read less)
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