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Gropius House

International Style

ince the early 1920s, a progressive group of young European architects had been working in a style that is now referred to as “The International Style.” This name was taken from a 1932 exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York that displayed the work of modern architects throughout Europe and the United States. This included the work of German architects Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Walter Gropius, the Dutch architect J.J.P. Oud, and the French pair of Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret. Although Frank Lloyd Wright was included in the exhibition, he is mentioned briefly in the famous 1932 book that accompanied the show and dismissed because his architecture was already considered to be outdated at this point.

Gropius House Sometimes referred to as white architecture, this style is recognizable for its flat painted surfaces, box-like dimensions and metal-framed windows that sit flush against the facade. International style buildings are made with modern materials and contain no ornamentation or no decorative flourishes. Architects often repeated shapes on the surface of a building (to effect the look of a paper-thin screen) to diminish the mass of the structure. The idea was to create the impression of space closed in by thin walls.

Walter Gropius, German architect and founder of the Bauhaus School, left Europe in 1934 amidst increasing political turmoil. Appointed Dean of Harvard’s Graduate School of Design in 1938, he settled in nearby Lincoln, MA, and built a house for his family that is considered one of the best examples of the International Style in the United States.

Pictured: Interior and exterior, Gropius House, Lincoln, Massachusetts

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