Walter Gropius and Operative History: an Architectural Palimpsest
Jasmine Benyamin

This essay evaluates the legacy of the pedagogical model set by Walter Gropius and other founders of the Bauhaus on subsequent curricula for schools of architecture. More specifically, it uses Walter Gropius’ views on history as a backdrop for a closer reading of operative history. While at the Bauhaus, Walter Gropius did not initially mandate the teaching of history. Later, as Dean of Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, he re-structured the history sequence as electives, thereby undermining its hitherto central role in what he viewed as a traditional approach to pedagogy that was overly analytical and intellectual. Rather, he encouraged his students to “make history” for themselves. What are the manifestations of operative history in architecture schools today, and how have they gone beyond references to 20th century Modernism? It is undeniable that there is a concerted effort among contemporary historians to complicate the history of the movement. Nonetheless, the impulse to self edit persists, such that imagery of like minded practitioners converge and sometime eclipse other architectural production.

Modern Movement, Modern architecture, Architectural education, Reuse, Bauhaus, Walter Gropius, Modern urban planning.

Issue 61
Year 2019
Pages 18-23

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