Walter Gropius (1883–1969 · architect / director)

Considered one of the most influential pioneers of Modernism, Gropius was born in Berlin in 1883. He came from an upper-middle-class background and was a great-nephew of the architect Martin Gropius. The young Gropius began his studies in 1903 at Munich's technical university but three years later, switched to the technical university in Berlin-Charlottenburg. In 1908, he broke off his studies to work at Peter Behrens’ architecture practice. Many architects who worked in that office would become famous as pioneers of Modernist architecture, including Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Le Corbusier. Gropius had many contacts through his membership of the craftsmen's association Deutscher Werkbund and the Workers’ Art Council. His first major work was the Fagus Factory, built in 1912 near Hildesheim in Alfeld, Lower Saxony, which is regarded as one of the first examples of New Building style. During the First World War, Gropius served as a non-commissioned officer for four years. In 1919, he founded the Bauhaus design school in Weimar and served as its director until 1926. The designs for its famous university building and the Masters’ Houses in Dessau, the second home of the Bauhaus school, date from this era. Today these buildings are part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, as are the Fagus Factory and the Siemensstadt estate. From 1925, Gropius became involved in mass housing construction. In 1934 he emigrated first to Britain, then in 1937 to the United States, where he taught at Harvard University. In 1948, Gropius and some younger Boston architects founded The Architects Collaborative (TAC). Later, he frequently returned to Berlin to work on projects such as his building in the Hansa Quarter, which was erected for the International Building Exhibition of 1957, or on Gropiusstadt in southern Neukölln, a residential estate based on an urban design by TAC.