Marcel L. Breuer, the world-renowned architect who taught at the Graduate School of Design (GSD) from 1937 to 1946, died at his home in New York City last Wednesday at the age of 79.
Breuer received many of the highest honors the profession can bestow in his half-century-long career, including the gold medal of the American Institute of Architects in 1978. In May the G.F.I. Knoll International Corporation sponsored a conference in his honor at the GSD.
Born in Hungary on May 21, 1902. Breuer studied in and later taught at the Bauhaus in Weimar, Germany. He came to the United States in 1937 to teach at Harvard, where he instructed such now-famous architects as Phillip Johnson, I.M. Pel and Edward Larrabe Barnes.
Breuer received an honorary degree in design from Harvard in 1970.
"He was one of the leading figures in bringing to the United States a new philosophy of architecture," Gerald M. McCue, dean of the GSD, said yesterday.
The modern movement, which McCue said Breuer helped found, "believed that architecture derived from needs which were both social and inspirational and that a new architecture, which did not emulate historic periods, would emerge," McCue said.
Among his best-known works are the UNESCO World Headquarters in Paris, the Whitney Museum in New York City, the headquarters of the federal departments of Health and Human Services and Housing and Urban Development is Washington, D.C.
Breuer's own home in Lincoln, Mass., which he designed soon after his arrival in America, was particularly influential, McCue said.
Among Breuer's many works in the Boston area were Roxbury High School, the University of Massachusetts Boston campus, and the headquarters of the New England Merchants Bank.
When Breuer left Harvard in 1946, he established his practice in New York City, where he made important innovations in the design of contemporary furniture as well as buildings. The Breuer chair, made of tubular steel, is now a widely imitated piece of furniture and his designs of kitches--with built-in fixtures and suspended fixtures--have been widely adopted.