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Archive for November, 2010

Adventures in Decision Making – Part 1 or A Walter Gropius Anecdote

Posted by Lynne van den Berg On November 29th

There are many integral factors that should be considered when making key decisions about  Mid-Century Modern designs. Color, size, shape, “feel”, and price should all be appropriately weighed in the mind of the consumer, but this quick story from the education of a well-known Harvard trained architect illustrates that there will always be unanticipated variables. As a side-note, the teacher discussed below is the famous Walter Gropius, who is regarded as a pioneering master of modern architecture.

“My mentor was Gropius, whose ideas were comparable to those of Mies van der Rohe. It’s rather sad, but after all my time at the feet of the master, the first thing that comes to mind after all these years is that silly conversation about the entrance stair to one of my building designs.”

“I designed free ‘floating’ concrete entrance stairs with steel reinforcing bars and an open area underneath. I thought it was quite sculptural and added to the overall lightness of the approach. When Gropius came for his critique he pulled at his eyebrow and contemplated my efforts for what seemed like an eternity. He then stated these immortal words which have been seared into my memory in his Germanic accented voice: ‘Roy do not do ‘dis – dogs will get under there and fornicate!’”

“These were hardly the words expected from a guy who to me was a near deity, but I have cherished them ever since. As far as I know, no dogs have ever had illicit carnal affairs under one of my structures.”

This is the first part of several amusing anecdotes that we are gathering directly from the memories of key figures in the colorful history of modern design. Please check back soon for another quirky true story.