The following article by Walter Gropius appeared in the March 1956 issue of ARCHITECTURAL RECORD.

Simply click on the photo below to retrieve his March 1937 article from our ARCHives. O N APRIL 10 Walter Gropius will receive in London the for 1956 of the Royal Institute of British Architects fol- lowing its award by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on the unani- mous recommendation of the Council of that Institute.

At the request of ARCHITECURAL

RECORD, Professor Gropius has selected from his outstanding work seven especially significant buildings and projects which we are honored to present here together with a stim- ulating statement on the architec- tural state of the nation from a truly pioneer architect and educator.


190 ARCHITECTURAL RECORD MARCH 1956 1911–12 Shoe Last Factory, Karl Benscheidt, Alfeld, A. L. Built 1911–12, photographed 1954. Walter Gropius with Adolf Meyer



WALTER GROPIUS: 1914 Upper: Office Building at the Werkbund Exhi- bition, . Lower: Machine Hall opposite the Office Building at the same exhibition. Both buildings by Walter Gropius with Adolf Meyer

1922 Design for the Chicago Tribune Tower

192 ARCHITECTURAL RECORD MARCH 1956 1922 1924-25




1924–25 Building,

1949 , Harkness Commons Building. The Architects Collaborative

1953 Office Building, McCormick Estate, Chicago, designed 1953. The Architects Collaborative; Arthur Myh- rum, Associate


A RCHITECTURAL RECORD has asked me and independence of thought and ized knowledge which he has to absorb to state both what troubles me most action. But diversity is, after all, the and integrate. He must comprehend and what pleases me most in the status very source of true democracy! But fac- land, nature, man and his art as one of in the . tors of expediency, like high-pressure great entity. In our mechanized soci- In the May issue of 1937 shortly salesmanship and money-making as an ety, we should patiently emphasize after I had entered this, my adopted end in itself, have impaired the indi- that we are still a world of men, that country, for good, ARCHITECTURAL vidual’s capacity to seek and under- man in his natural environment must RECORD published a statement about stand the deeper potentialities of life be the focus of all planning and build- my general intentions as newly- from which the culture of a nation ing. appointed Harvard Professor of develops. Our sense of neighborly If we, the architects and planners, Architecture. I emphasized that “it integration, our love of beauty as a envisage the strategic goal of our pro- should be our highest aim to produce a basic life requirement, are underdevel- fession in its vast complexity, it indeed type of architect who is able, to visual- oped. We need, on the one hand, dis- embraces the civilized life of man in all ize an entity rather than let himself get tinct diversity of minds resulting from its major aspects: the destiny of the absorbed into the narrow channels of intensive individual performance, and, land, the forests, the water, the cities specialization . . . to make way for the on the other, a common idiom of and the countryside; the knowledge of man of vision.” regional expression springing from the man through biology, sociology and Have we made any progress towards cumulative experience of successive psychology; law, government and eco- this goal? Indeed we have. During the generations who gradually weed out nomics, art, architecture and engineer- last twenty years, a young American the superfluous and the merely arbi- ing. As all are interdependent, we can- generation of talented architects has trary from the essential and typical. not consider them separately in com- come to the fore—among them, I am Such a voluntary selective process, far partments. Their connectedness, proud to say, many of my own former from producing dull uniformity, directed toward a cultural entity, is students whose achievements show should give many individuals a chance undoubtedly of greater importance for definite signs of a growing coherence to contribute their own individual success in planning our environment and kinship of the American architec- variation of a common theme and so than finding ever-so-perfect practical tural idiom. Comparing publications help to evolve again the integrated pat- solutions for limited objectives. If we on European architecture with those tern for living that we lost with the agree on this rank of order, then the on American design, the latter stands advent of the machine age. The two emphasis must be on the “composite out; in its generally more direct, fresh opposites—individual variety, and a mind,” as we may call it, developed and flexible solutions, less inhibited, common denominator expressed by through a process of continuous cross- less tempered by prejudice. In a coun- creating form symbols of human fel- checking and balancing, rather than try that is blessed with abundance, an lowship—need to be reconciled to on the specialized expert who shuns enviable array of technical means each other. The degree of success in responsibility for the whole and offers opportunities for daring experi- shaping and fusing these opposites divides his brain into tight compart- ments, and this challenge has been indicates the depth of culture reached ments. enthusiastically met. and is the very yardstick for judging To rebalance our life and to human- What a contrast to the early days the architectural achievements of a ize the impact of the machine, we must when we struggled with the first letters period. give the creative architect, the artist, of the new architectural alphabet, Our scientific age of specialization, his chance to reassert himself as the hemmed in on all sides by colossal with its glorious achievements for our prototype of “whole man.” As soon as prejudices and barely able to sur- physical life, has simultaneously the longing for “total architecture,” as mount, the technical difficulties that brought about confusion and a general I like to call it, becomes more univer- beset, all attempts at creating new, dissolution of context; it has resulted sal, there will grow a demand for unprecedented forms for living. We in shrinking and fragmentizing life. “experiments in living,” for courageous were lonely fighters with insufficient But there are indications that we are practical attempts to examine the liv- equipment, with uncertain allies, and slowly moving away from overspecial- ing value of our building and planning practical demonstrations of our ideas ization and its perilous atomizing habits by setting up organic model were few and far between. effect on the social coherence of the communities where our new living Now, when a new generation is able community. Many ideas and discover- standards can be tested and demon- to use the architectural language of the ies of our present civilization are whol- strated. As soon as the average twentieth century as a matter of ly concerned with finding again the American, with his innate enthusiasm course, when prejudice has died down relationship between the phenomena and readiness to act, will feel the need and a building program is in progress of the universe, which scientists had so for a more beautiful and more organi- that supersedes any expectation, we far viewed only in isolation from cally coherent environment as an architects find ourselves still at a fair neighboring fields. The scientist has expression of his pride and participa- distance from our desired goal: the contributed new knowledge of the tion in our democracy, then he may transformation of our chaotic, pro- identity of matter and energy. The cause a chain reaction conducive to fusely growing surroundings into a artist, the architect, has learned to solving our great and complicated pattern of organic entity and visual express visibly with inert materials a task, to have both, unity and diversity, bliss. For such a desire has hardly new dimension—time and motion. the two indispensable components of a taken root yet within our American Are we on the way to regaining a com- cultural order. population as a whole; we are still prehensive vision of the oneness of the without their response and encourage- world which we had let disintegrate? ment. We are still in danger of losing In the gigantic task of its reunifica- control over the vehicle of progress tion, the architect and planner will which our time has created. The mis- have to play a big role. He must be use of the machine tends to flatten the well trained not ever to lose a total mind, leveling off individual diversity vision in spite of the wealth of special-