Term Paper: Marcel Breuer

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Architecture

Architect Marcel Breuer

Modernist Architect Marcel Breuer is well-known for his emphasis on the technical and structural aspects of his buildings. A focus on structure is also apparent in his furniture design. Additionally, his architecture is recognized for its attention to light and shading, particularly in the use of tinted or shaded windows and overhanging elements. Again, cantilevered design is also apparent in his furniture. Developing these visions early in his career, Breuer made himself known as an architect in the design of both public and private spaces. His work with fellow architect Herbert Beckhard illuminates many of Breuer's ideas, as both men focused on similar concepts in their work. This is perhaps nowhere more apparent than in their dual design of the McMullen Beach House in Mantoloking, New Jersey.

Born in Pecs Hungary in 1902, Marcel Breuer attended university at the newly formed Weimar Bauhaus, attracted to the promises of new architectural and artistic approaches (Marcel Breuer: architect biography, par. 1). He attended the Bauhaus in the early twenties and taught there after finishing his studies. Though the Bauhaus did not yet offer architecture when he began there, Breuer, aided by Georg Muche, began to study housing anyway. He had a particular interest in high-rise structures and soon after developed a seven-story apartment block that would be mass-produced in the years to come (Marcel Breuer: architect biography, par. 1). Following his time at the Bauhaus, Breuer spent time traveling and then trying to establish a practice in Berlin. However, this did not materialize and he was forced to flee from Germany during the Nazi era; emigrating to America, he taught at the Harvard School of Architecture (Marcel Breuer, par. 1).

Though he was accepted as a prominent teacher and architect within professional circles, his earliest mainstream popularity came from his work designing furniture. Inspired by his own bicycle, Breuer began to experiment with tubular steel furniture. One such chair that became widely popular was the "Wassily" chair; made for general residential use, it revolutionized the way that many people viewed their home furnishings (Marcel Breuer, par. 3). Obviously inspired by bicycle handlebars, the Wassily chair's mental tube design was indicative of Breuer's later building style as it emphasized the structure in a stark and minimalist way (Marcel Breuer, par. 3).

Working with fellow Harvard professor Walter Gropius, Breuer completed many significant projects during the 1930s. Among these was the well-known New Kensington, PA housing project for defense industry workers, which "established a new high standard of design for the federal government" (Marcel Breuer: architect biography, par. 2). Their work was also highlighted at the 1939 World's Fair, as they had designed an interior for the Pennsylvania Pavilion. Breuer and Gropius also built a number of houses in New England during this time, including their own. In 1941 he ended his partnership with Gropius, leaving Harvard five years later (Marcel Breuer: architect biography, par. 2).

In the early fifties, Breuer began working in partnership with a number of other architects, including Herbert Beckhard (Marcel Breuer: architect biography, par. 3). The early 1950s were also an important time for his career, as key projects made his name and his work much more internationally recognizable. Turvey points out the dichotomy of two of Breuer's projects from 1952: a manufacturing building in Oakville, Ontario Canada; and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) headquarters in Paris, France (74). The latter project secured a place for him as one of the primary architects of his time. Additional projects of note include the St. John's Abbey Church in Collegeville, MN and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City (Marcel Breuer: architect biography, par. 3).

As an architect, Breuer's style was engrossed with matters of light and shading. Use of tinted solar shading over windows was used in many of Breuer's buildings following 1953, including the UNESCO headquarters and the McMullen Beach House in Mantoloking, New Jersey. Such shading was first used by Breuer in a private home in Colorado; solar tinting allowed him… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Marcel Breuer.  (2006, December 8).  Retrieved May 21, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/marcel-breuer/912935

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