erich mendelsohn

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Born on 21st march 1887 in Allenstein (Olsztyn), East Prussia. Jewish German architect. Known for his expressionist architecture in the 1920s, as well as for developing a dynamic functionalism in his projects for department stores and cinemas. In 1906 he took up the study of national economics at the University of Munich. In 1908 he began studying architecture at the Technical University of Berlin; two years later he transferred to the Technical University of Munich, from where he graduated in 1912. In Munich he was influenced by Theodor Fischer, an architect whose own work fell between neo-classical and Jugendstil, and who had been teaching there since 1907; Mendelsohn also made contact with members of Der Blaue Reiter and Die Brcke, two groups of expressionist artists.

1912 to 1914 he worked as an independent architect in Munich.At the end of 1918, upon his return from World War I, he settled his practice in Berlin. The Einsteinturm and the hat factory in Luckenwalde established his reputation. As early as 1924 Wasmuths Monatshefte fr Baukunst (a series of monthly magazines on architecture) produced a booklet about his work. In that same year, along with Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Walter Gropius, he was one of the founders of the progressive architectural group known as Der Ring. In 1926, he bought an old villa, and in 1928, he designed Rupenhorn, nearly 4000 m, which the family occupied two years later. With an expensive publication about his new home, illustrated by Amde Ozenfant among others, Mendelsohn became the subject of envy.

Mendelsohn had long known Chaim Weizmann, later President of Israel. At the start of 1934 he began planning on Weizmann's behalf a series of projects in Palestine during the British Mandate. In 1935, he opened an office in Jerusalem and planned Jerusalem stone buildings in the International Style that greatly influenced local. In Palestine, Mendelsohn built many now-famous buildings: Weizmann House and three laboratories at the Weizmann Institute of Science, Anglo-Palestine Bank in Jerusalem, Hadassah Hospital on Mount Scopus, Rambam Hospital in Haifa and others. From 1941 until his death, Mendelsohn lived in the United States and taught at the University of California, Berkeley. In 1945 he established himself in San Francisco. From then until his death in 1953 he undertook various projects, mostly for Jewish communities.

EINSTEIN TOWERis an astrophysical observatory in the Albert Einstein Science Park in Potsdam, Germany built from 1919 to 1921 This was one of Mendelsohn's first major projects, and also his best known. It is often cited as one of the few landmarks of expressionist architecture.

The exterior was originally conceived in concrete, but due to construction difficulties with the complex design and shortages from the war, much of the building was actually realized in brick, covered with stucco. Because the material was changed during construction of the building, the designs were not updated to accommodate them. This caused many problems, such as cracking and dampness. Extensive repair work had to be done only five years after the initial construction. Since then numerous renovations have been done periodically.

THE DESIGN.The design, while logical and perfectly sufficient to its purpose, stood out like an "ungainly spaceship" in the suburbs of Potsdam. The Tower is considered a key Expressionist building its curved, organic forms depart from all traditional expectations of what a tower should look like.

The building attracted considerable attention, particularly because of the plastic treatment of form, which made the seven-story tower seem to flow upward from its rounded base to its domed observatory. This structure typifies his interest in an architecture of abstract, sculptural expressionism.

Albert Einstein called the scientific building organic!. In Mendelsohns style, the complex aspects of modern technology, mathematics, and physics are represented by intricate winding shapes and elegantly bending curves.


Built during 1935-1937The private residence of Dr. Chaim Weizmann ,the first president of the state of Israel who also happened to be Mendelsohns friend. It covers an area of 1,000 square meters and is surrounded by a 10-acre garden.

THE DESIGN..Constructed in the Modernist International Style and referred to in popular parlance as the palace, due to its hilltop location and its size.

The design of the house, influenced by Le Corbusiers Villa Savoye, combines a number of International Style principles with design elements and materials that, at Weizmanns request, were local, such as the Hebron-stone floors.

From the top of a hill, the house has a commanding view of the coastal plain, a primary consideration in planning of the house. The form of the structure is simple and is designed to exacting proportions, which are highlighted by the use of clean forms. The structure is organized around a cylindrical stairwell, half facing the courtyard of the house with a pool in its center. Although courtyards enclosed on four sides are an architectural typology, in this case the front facade of the house blurs the boundary between the interior of the house, and the natural environment, both because of this openness to the landscape and the open space above through the roofing.

In the center of the house is a stairwell, designed like a tower looking out into the distance. At its base are three rectangles: two, similar in structure and size, serve as the library and drawing room; the central rectangle is out of doors a columned courtyard containing a swimming pool. The rooms have numerous doors that open into the central courtyard.

The walls of the house are particularly thick and consist of several insulating layers: bricks, cork, sawdust, and plaster. High on the walls are small round windows resembling portholes of a ship, which let in soft light while preventing overheating.

A special effort was made to adapt the structure to its physical environment, culture, and climate. It was referred to as a modern, aristocratic house, in harmony with its surroundings, well suited to its purpose, fully expressing the soul of its owners, and, like them, a national treasure.

The Presidents bedroom

The study

The dining room


Constructed in 1935 It is located in Bexhill on Sea, East Sussex, on the south coast of England.

THE DESIGNIt was the first public building in the U.K. built in the Modernist Style, and is considered to be a perfect expression of the International Style. The Pavilion illustrates the transition from Art Deco to postDeco modernism, combining curvilinear forms and marine architecture motifs with the concrete and steel construction and spacious, airy interiors that so influenced Mies Van Der Rohe.

Amongst the building's most innovative features was its use of a welded steel frame construction, pioneered by structural engineer Felix Samuely. It contained an entertainment hall to seat at least 1500 people; a 200-seat restaurant; a reading room; and a lounge.

Shapes tend towards streamlined, industrially-influenced designs

Dramatic stairwell in the pavilion


The building was a department store with a modern style in an urban context. It was constructed of brick and concrete. The shopping area within the building had mainly wooden furnishings and, in the absence of air conditioning, had a large number of windows. Again owing to the absence of air conditioning, the food hall was situated in the basement. The department store constituted an impressive ensemble of modern architecture.


Interior view of the hat factory


Located in the wealthy neighborhood of Pacific Heights, the Russell house is the only residential work built in the United States by German architect Erich Mendelsohn, and is one of his last creations.

The house has four floors and two wings forming an "L" that create a large ground-level patio. This patio occupies the full length of the lot, extending under the main wing of the house and becoming a terrace with a view of the Bay at the north end.

The east-west wing contains kitchens, utility rooms and other service areas on the 1st level as well as a lower level garage underneath.

Mendelsohn capitalized on the magnificent existing views of the San Francisco Bay and Golden Gate Bridge from this elevated site, by laying out along the north-south direction the main wing that contains dining and living areas, and bedrooms respectively, on the top 2nd and 3rd levels. The most striking and dramatic element of the house, located at the northwest corner of the top level, is the master bedroom's circular sitting area with bay windows overlooking the San Francisco Bay.

Structurally, the main floor consists of a steel frame platform. Above this level, the house was built with the typical local wood-frame construction and finished with Californian Redwood siding.


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