Known as Lajkó to his friends, Marcel Lajos Breuer (21 May 1902 – 1 July 1981) helped define first the interior contents, then the form, of the modernist house for millions; his influential approach to housing was one of the first to demonstrate modernism on a domestic, practical level. Beginning as a furniture designer at the height of Bauhaus, Breuer was hailed as one of the most innovative designers working in the 1930s, before moving to architecture and helping define the modernist vernacular—most notably as one of America's foremost Brutalist architects.
Like many Brutalist buildings in America, the Central Library in Atlanta by Marcel Breuer is facing demolition, reports The Architect's Newspaper. Completed in 1980 with a 300-seat theater, restaurant and 1 million books, the building exemplifies Breuer’s sensibilities, with its bush-hammered concrete panels and Bauhaus-inspired forms. However, over the years the building has fallen into disrepair, with its theater closing in the mid-1990s, and the restaurant closing a few years later. In 2002, the city spent $5 million on restoration. Even so, in 2008, voters approved a $275 million bond referendum, which included a proposal to replace the library by Breuer with another. Despite protests from preservationists, the building’s future is uncertain, with voters clearly calling for a new library building.
The New York art world let out a collective cry of grief when the Whitney Museum of American Art abandoned Marcel Breuer's iconic 1966 building on Madison Avenue at 75th Street. Whether New Yorkers loved, loved to hate, or hated to love the old Whitney, Breuer's building suddenly became the building that evoked more passion than any other.
Now, thanks to a restoration led by New York City firm Beyer Blinder Belle, the iconic building has been transformed into the Met Breuer—the bold new showcase for the Metropolitan Museum of Art's renewed embrace of modernist and contemporary art. It will open to the public on March 18, 2016, and as the crowds ready to descend, the curators and architects are no doubt anxious to see whether, by faithfully adhering to Breuer's original vision, the restored building will succeed in both delighting museum-goers and helping redefine the Met's public image.
“Concrete has the ability to be primitive and technological, massive and levitating, to combine the properties of steel with those of mud,” says Rowan Moore in his list of The 10 best concrete buildings created for The Guardian. Through examples spanning three continents, Moore unites old standbys with unexpected wonders, all of which show the varied possibilities inherent in mixing water, aggregate, and cement. In a list that incorporates examples from Classical times to the present, Moore establishes concrete’s unique ability to adapt to different times, styles, applications, and treatments.
Examples by Le Corbusier, Álvaro Siza, Lina Bo Bardi, and Marcel Breuer demonstrate that concrete is anything but workaday or utilitarian. Moore’s list affirms that a material simultaneously strong and light, durable, sustainable, and fire-resistant, can scarcely be considered anything short of miraculous. Of course, ten buildings can only provide an abridged version of concrete’s possibilities, and Moore cheekily apologizes for some of the obvious omissions. Check out the full list here.
A Belarus-based rendering studio, iddqd, have faithfully recreated Marcel Breuer's St. John's Abbey Church in a series of highly detailed images representing both the building's interior spaces and iconic external volume. The first in a long-term project called 'Unforgotten Heritage', this collection of drawings are complemented by a movie which shines a spotlight on a building which, according to the artists, "might otherwise be forgotten."
Bauhaus, the school of design established by Walter Gropius in Weimar in 1919, has arguably been the most influential of any institution in shaping the trajectory of modern architecture. Out of this single school came an entire movement that would have lasting effects on architectural pedagogy and the design of everything from buildings to road signs. Born out of a larger cultural movement following Germany’s defeat in World War I which left the country ripe for regrowth without the previous constraints imposed by censorship, the core of Bauhaus philosophy were the principles of craftsmanship and mass production, which allowed for the movement’s rapid proliferation and a production model that would later inform contemporary design companies such as Ikea. Check out the infographic from Aram below to learn more about the movement, tracking the school from its origins in Weimar, via its canonical Gropius-designed home in Dessau, to its continuing legacy today.
UPDATE: In honor of the 81st anniversary of the day the Bauhaus closed in 1933, we’re re-publishing this popular infographic, which was originally published April 16th, 2012.
From the “starchitect” to “architecture for the 99%,” we are witnessing a shift of focus in the field of architecture. However, it’s in the education system where these ideas really take root and grow. This sea change inspired us to explore past movements, influenced by economic shifts, war and the introduction of new technologies, and take a closer look at the bauhaus movement.
Often associated with being anti-industrial, the Arts and Crafts Movement had dominated the field before the start of the Bauhaus in 1919. The Bauhaus’ focus was to merge design with industry, providing well designed products for the many.
The Bauhaus not only impacted design and architecture on an international level, but also revolutionized the way design schools conceptualize education as a means of imparting an integrated design approach where form follows function.
The relationship between social dynamics and architecture has always been intimate. It is a constant dialogue between social norms and politics, stylistic trends and aesthetic choices, individual preferences and the collective good. The Modernist Period was a time when architecture took on the challenge of many social problems. In all the arts – architecture, design, music and film – the period was highly politicized and the choices often gave way to a utilitarian ideal that was a hybrid of efficiency, simplicity and comfort. Jake Gorst’s new film Modern Tide: Midcentury Architecture on Long Island, supported by Design Onscreen, is a message of preservation that takes us through the history of the modernist housing boom that took place on Long Island, NY in the period between the Great Depression and the 1970s.
On August 14th, Cook+Fox Architects hosted a private film screening at their office on 641 Ave of the Americas, presenting the treasures along the island’s shore that have fallen between the cracks of history. The film looks at works from Albert Frey, Wallace Harrison, Frank Lloyd Wright, Marcel Breuer, Philip Johnson, Charles Gwathmey, Barbara and Julian Neski and many others.
Follow us after the break to catch up on the history of the development of these houses on Long Island.
Marcel Breuer, born in Hungary in 1902, was educated under the Bauhaus manifesto of “total construction”; this is likely why Breuer is well known for both his furniture designs as well as his numerous works of architecture, which ranged from small residences to monumental architecture and governmental buildings. His career flourished during the Modernist period in conjunction with architects and designers such as founder of Bauhaus Walter Gropius, Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe.
In 2009, Syracuse University’s Special Collection Research Center recieved a National Endowment for the Humanities grant with which it began creating the Marcel Breuer Digital Archive. The digital archive, available online, is a collaborative effort headed by the library and includes institutions such as the Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin, the Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau, the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich, Harvard University, the Archives of American Art at the Smithsonian Institution, the University of East Anglia, and the Vitra Design Museum. It is in the first phase, which includes Breuer work up until 1955, of digitzing over 30,000 drawings, photographs, letters and other related material of his work.
More about Marcel Breuer’s career and the archive after the break.
The Architecture City Guide series is back, this week featuring New York City. Grab a scarf and hat and hit the streets to check out some of the great architecture that NYC has to offer. Think we left something out? Add your can’t miss NYC buildings to our comments below.
Follow the break for our New York City list and a corresponding map!