Walter Gropius.  Workshop Wing of the Bauhaus Studio.  Dessau, Germany.  1925-1926.

        Modernist architects discarded the decorative styles of the 19th century and sought to merge architecture with industry.  The result was a simple, logical, functional building style, as much industrial as artistic.  Twentieth-century architects had the advantage of new materials and forms.  Steel in particular, could be used to form strong frames or cages.  Steel also made up the heart of ferroconcrete, or steel-reinforced concrete, which remains the principal material in large-scale construction today.  Ferroconcrete made possible a technique called cantilevering, in which a block or floor is supported at one end and hangs free at the other.

        The young German architect Walter Gropius (1883-1969) invited such leading modern artists as  Kandinsky and Klee to teach at his art school in Germany called the Bauhaus (‘‘Building House’’).  When the Bauhaus moved from Weimar to Dessau in 1926, Gropius constructed the new campus according to his philosophy of clean, functional, modern design.  Gropius’s most important contribution was the so-called ‘‘curtain wall’’,  the exterior wall of glass that also displays the building’s interior designBauhaus architects also designed modern furniture and household utensils to match the functional style of their interiors.

        In the Workshop Wing of the new Bauhaus Studio in Dessau, the sheer simplicity of Gropius’s glass and steel design recalls the purified grid paintings of Mondrian.  Gropius became an influential teacher in America and a founder of what has come to be known as the International Style in architecture.