The Profound Echoes of Modernism

The Berlin City Notebook

On this #TravelTuesday, Roaming By Design is celebrating the birthplace of modern architecture, Berlin, with a giveaway—one of Moleskine’s Berlin City Notebooks. See below how you can participate. If you have any doubts as to how useful these great City Notebooks can be, take a look at my copy of the Paris version, which I used like crazy during a recent trip to the City of Lights. There is also a terrific video of someone’s Berlin book here. How is it that the birth of modernism is attributed to Berlin? You’ll see by reading this excerpt of the preface of my newly released book, Four Florida Moderns, which was published by W.W. Norton & Company. It’s in bookstores and online now.

Profound Echoes

The gestation of ideas that took place in Peter Behrens’ Berlin studio between 1907 and 1911 was vital to the birth of modern architecture. Walter Gropius, who would found the Staatliches Bauhaus in 1919 in Weimar, Germany, apprenticed there, as did Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Le Corbusier. Though they created a stir in Europe during the early twentieth century, these men weren’t formally introduced to the architectural community in the United States until 1932 when the curators at the Museum of Modern Art in New York staged The International Style: Architecture Since 1922, making them and other European moderns the focus of the exhibition.

By 1937, both Gropius and Mies had migrated to the United States where they would become practicing architects and educators—Gropius at the Harvard Graduate School of Design and Mies at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago (then known as the School of Architecture at the Armour Institute). Through their built work and their academic positions, Gropius and Mies would prove to have great influence over succeeding generations of architects.

Likewise, through his work and his writings, Le Corbusier inspired American moderns. His groundbreaking book Vers une architecture, which was first published in 1923, was translated into English in 1927. In it Le Corbusier states, “Passion can create drama out of inert stone.” More than three quarters of a century later, his words continue to serve as a voice for the early movement, which he so fervently hoped would ignite passion in future generations. Are you passionate about modern architecture? Do you absolutely love it? Hate it? Did any of these giants of architecture inspire you in any way? Tell us by commenting and you’ll have a chance to win the Moleskine Berlin City Notebook. We’ll announce the winner here on Friday morning, April 2nd.

  • Jessica

    I love modern architecture. This reminded me of one of my favourite places to visit — The Gropius House. http://www.historicnewengland.org/visit/homes/gropius.htm *swoon*

  • Saxon Henry

    His house is in the book! Thanks for stopping by and posting. Check back in on Friday to see if you’re the winner of the city notebook.

  • Audrey

    I like modern architecture as much as I like old architecture. The most incredible city I’ve seen until now is Tokyo because they’ve found a perfect mixt between modern & ancient. Odaiba the artificial island carries a strange and poetic atmosphere.

  • Saxon Henry

    I haven’t been to Tokyo and I’d love to go. Everyone says it’s a perfect paradox of new and old, which sounds like you experienced. Thanks for stopping in and commenting. Check back on Friday for the winner of the notebook…

  • Matthew

    Any architecture is important! would we be where we are today with out modern architecture? probably not.

  • Saxon Henry

    We definitely wouldn’t be where we are without architecture…thanks for stopping in and commenting. Check back in on Friday.

  • Saxon Henry

    Audrey wins the Berlin City Notebook! Send me a direct message on twitter with your address, Audrey, and I’ll send the notebook to you…Congrats and thanks everyone for taking the time to respond!