Saturday, 7 November 2009

More destruction - Gropius in Chicago bites the dust

Blog updated 8th November (previous posts and links below)

Thank you, Gropius in Chicago Coalition, for the Republic mention. I'm still aghast that this can be happening. This is cultural vandalism of the highest order.

“The Buildings of Walter Gropius in Chicago should be saved and restored. Chicago has a unique ensemble of buildings of bauhaus-architects (Mies, Gropius). This ensemble should become world heritage. Visitors from all over the world would travel to Chicago.” Mr. Gereon Sievernich, Director of the Martin-Gropius-Bau Museum in Berlin (see below).

Meanwhile in another part of the US...

Bauhaus 1919–1933: Workshops for Modernity from November 8, 2009, to January 25, 2010.

Art Daily carries a report

MoMA Presents Major Exhibition Celebrating the Influential Bauhaus School

The Bauhaus school in Germany—the most famous and influential school of avant-garde art in the twentieth century—brought together artists, architects, and designers in an extraordinary conversation about the nature of art in the modern age. Aiming to rethink the very form of contemporary life, the students and faculty of the Bauhaus made the school the venue for a dazzling array of experiments in the visual arts that had a transformative effect on the 1920s and 1930s. The effects are still felt in our contemporary visual world...

...This exhibition was organized in cooperation with Bauhaus-Archiv/Museum für Gestaltung, Berlin; Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau; Klassik Stiftung Weimar; and the German Federal Cultural Foundation. A version of the show was presented at Martin-Gropius-Bau in Berlin from July 22 to October 4, 2009. The New York and Berlin exhibitions share a core group of loans, but have distinct curatorial perspectives.

Exhibition site:

while in Chicago...

The first demolition - click to enlarge. Two buildings gone now...

Latest News from Chicago

News Coverage Update: A Sampling from Around the World (TreeHugger, ArchitectureWeek, Archinect...)

Saturday, November 7, 2009 at 10:05AM

News of Chicago’s futile and self-destructive demolition action continues to travel across the globe. In the week since the first Gropius demolition occurred at Michael Reese, interest and concern has grown steadily, with articles too numerous to list individually. We have instead compiled a sampling of such articles:

The Gropius in Chicago Coalition thanks everyone who is continuing to discuss this matter, no matter what is your means of communication. It is critical that we continue to spread the word about the cultural crimes occurring on Chicago’s South Side. There are still six works of Walter Gropius on the Michael Reese Hospital Campus that can be preserved...

Read on:

Our previous compilation of immediate coverage concerning the demolition of the Friend Convalescent Home can be found here:


Blog post November 3rd:

The demolition has started of the Gropius Laundry Building

ALERT: Demolition begins on Gropius's Laundry Building

Demolition started today, November 3, 2009, on the Michael Reese Hospital Laundry building. The incredible building was the first design Walter Gropius worked on to be erected in the state of Illinois, finishing work in 1948-1949. The Gropius in Chicago Coalition mourns this completely unacceptable and tragic loss.

Gropius worked solely with the Michael Reese Hospital Planning Staff to design the building. The local architects on the staff working with him were John T. Black, Reginald R. Isaacs, and George Kolinsky.

The building intentionally set the tone for the campus buildings that followed, and was unique in part because there was no local firm of record beyond the hospital that collaborated on the design.

We will publish a proper obituary for this phenomenal building in the days to come.

 Posts from last week in October

Well what can I add to that picture above? Not a lot, but I recommend that you read this:

Latest News


Wednesday, October 28, 2009 at 7:17PM


Starting Friday and continuing through today, October 28, 2009, the first building of 27 at Michael Reese Hospital slated for demolition was lost...

See the picture above, which tells it all much better than I can.

The first Gropius building to be demolished in decades, anywhere.

How careless the world is with its architectural heritage.  Sickening.

Saturday, October 24, 2009 at 1:19AM

A Message from the Director of the Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin

Rightly calling the Gropius works at Michael Reese Hospital “world heritage,” Mr. Gereon Sievernich, Director of the famous Martin-Gropius-Bau Museum in Berlin, has written to the Chicago Tribune to express his support for saving Chicago’s unique Gropius buildings.

Mr. Sievernich states,

“The Buildings of Walter Gropius in Chicago should be saved and restored. Chicago has a unique ensemble of buildings of bauhaus-architects (Mies, Gropius). This ensemble should become world heritage. Visitors from all over the world would travel to Chicago.”

Having just mounted a phenomenal exhibition on the Bauhaus, Mr. Sievernich surely knows first-hand the power of the Bauhaus as a tourist draw and lasting legacy. The exhibition, in celebration of the 90th anniversary of the Bauhaus (founded and directed by Walter Gropius), will also travel to the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

One has to wonder, if New York City, the U.S. bastion of culture and sophistication, were blessed with eight works of Walter Gropius, would they consider tearing them down? (New York City has only one Gropius building.) Surely not. Chicago’s ignorance to the importance of Walter Gropius unfortunately is a major reinforcement to the perception that our city is culturally second-rate. All across the world, Gropius’s buildings are protected landmarks.

No enlightened city would squander the heritage of Walter Gropius. And, in fact, statistically this proves a universal fact: Chicago will become the first municipality to be the culprit for demolishing a permanent building of Walter Gropius.

Another blog, more eloquence than I can muster at this time:

A civilised nation would not allow this to happen.

Update  Oct 31st

Another excellent blog, one which I follow, with a great deal more history, information and comment

Architects' Journal, with further links and reading:



Story first posted 29th October, updated as news is sent via Twitter.


Liverpool Preservation Trust said...

Its a bit mad to do that. I thought it was only Liverpool who did not take care of its heritage.
Walter Gropius who was shown the interior of the newly built Mersey Tunnel and said that he adored the simple lines of the then new vitrolite lining was a name to keep. I find it hard to believe they have done this.

Nemesis said...

No, it's the same the world over. Greed is usually at the root of it.
Stupidity comes into it also.