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Breuer and the Discovery of a New England Modernism

From Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer to Hugh Stubbins and Edward Larrabee Barnes – influencers of a New England Modernism in residential design. Presented by Lauren Weiss Bricker, Ph.D.$12 (1 hr)

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Full Details

In 1937, Walter Gropius, founder of Germany’s Bauhaus, joined the faculty of Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design (GSD). Almost immediately, Gropius requested the GSD hire Marcel Breuer, a Bauhaus alumnus and director of its furniture department. While reminiscing about their years at the GSD, architecture alums described Gropius as the ideological center of the program, but credit Breuer with unleashing their architectural creativity. As noted by Edward Larrabee Barnes (M.Arch.’42, later architect of the Walker Art Center and Haystack Mountain School of Crafts), Breuer “pulled the ideas out of you.” Breuer’s architecture demonstrated the design values he taught. In particular, his residence in Lincoln, MA captures new emotional and spatial effects through the use of local stone and wood construction.

For Barnes, Breuer’s domestic work encouraged his own ability to re-conceptualize the familiar as the basis of a new approach to the New England house. In the postwar period, Hugh Stubbins (M.Arch.’35, later the architect of the Citigroup Center and Boston’s Federal Reserve Bank) contributed to New England’s domestic modernism by combining local building materials with new products of wartime technologies. While Stubbins was Breuer’s colleague at Harvard, rather than his student, his residential work reflected the influence of Breuer’s bi-nuclear house prototype. Flexibility was the source of the prototype’s appeal: functional spaces could be zoned according to the configuration of the site, and additional rooms could be slipped beneath its butterfly roof. Over time, innovative examples of New England’s domestic architecture explored new interpretations of traditional forms, at times suggesting commonalities between late modern design and postmodernism.

Lauren Weiss Bricker, Ph.D. is a Professor in the Department of Architecture, and Director of ENV Archives-Special Collections at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona.

This event qualifies for AIA CES Learning Units.


Things to Know

This event is for all ages.
The entrance to the Annenberg Theater is located behind the Annenberg Theater Box Office, adjacent to the Palm Springs Art Museum's North Parking Lot.
Ample free public parking is available in the multi-level public garage across from the Palm Springs Art Museum
Handicap parking available. This event is wheelchair accessible.

The organizer of this event is Modernism Week.


Event Check-in Location

Annenberg Theater, Palm Springs Art Museum, 101 N. Museum Way, Palm Springs, CA 92262

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Photo Credits: Edward Larrabee Barnes, Heckscher House, Mount Desert Island ME, 1971-74 Photographer: David Franzen / Esto View of main house with studio in foreground. Hugh Stubbins, Stubbins House, Lexington MA, 1946 Photographer: Ezra Stoller / Esto View of rear façade.  Marcel Breuer, Breuer House I, Lincoln MA, 1939 Photographer: David Sundberg / Esto Living room seen from above; fireplace in stone wall; sofa and chairs., Hugh Stubbins, Stubbins House, Lexington MA, 1946 Photographer: Ezra Stoller / Esto View of rear façade.,


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