Building a New Europe


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Portraits of Modern Architects, Essays by George Nelson, 1935-1936

George Nelson; Introduction by Kurt W. Forster; Foreword by Robert A. M. Stern

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Fascinating profiles of the leading architects of the 1930s during a crucial period in the evolution of modernism

Architect, designer, and architectural critic, George Nelson (1908–1986) was a young and impressionable architect when he wrote a series of articles in 1935 and 1936 that eloquently introduced astonishing buildings and fascinating personalities from across the Atlantic to wider American audiences. Building a New Europe presents this important collection of writings together for the first time. The subjects of Nelson’s essays include figures both major (Mies van Der Rohe and Le Corbusier) and minor (Helweg-Moeller and Ivar Tengbom). All of these architects would soon be affected by World War II—they would be put out of work or seek new careers abroad. Nelson’s essays spark fascinating questions about the canon of modernism: how would circumstances in the pre-war years cause some architects to rise and others to fall? Accompanied by a comprehensive introduction and a wide selection of archival photographs, many never before published, this unique study is a significant contribution to the history of modern architecture.

Published in association with the Yale University School of Architecture

George Nelson served as the design director of Herman Miller from 1946 to 1972. His books include Chairs: 20th Century Landmarks in Design and Tomorrow’s House. Kurt W. Forster is the Vincent Scully Professor of Architectural History at the Yale School of Architecture. He is co-author of Frank O. Gehry: The Complete Works. Robert A. M. Stern is Dean and J. M. Hoppin Professor of Architecture at the Yale School of Architecture.

“Nelson’s articles of 1935 and 1936 provide wonderful insights into key figures of European modernism and how they were perceived in both Europe and America. This book will make a significant contribution to our understanding of architectural history, the relationship between American and European architecture, the under-examined figure of George Nelson, and modernity at large.”—Detlef Mertins, University of Pennsylvania

“Nelson’s reports are masterfully written and offer unique insights into the European situation of the time . . . with fascinating profiles of the twelve architects he interviewed, a group that includes most of the leading architects of the 1930s and the following decades.”—John Morris Dixon

"What is especially interesting about this volume is the unusually wide range of material addressed. . . . A valuable document for specialists as well as others with special interests in the subject. Recommended."—Choice

"Nelson's essays, republished here with an informative and entertaining introduction by Kurt W Foster, are a valuable addition to what we know about those difficult years."—Tom Muirhead, Building Design
ISBN: 9780300115659
Publication Date: August 28, 2007
Publishing Partner: Published in association with the Yale University School of Architecture
192 pages, 8 x 10
126 b/w illus.
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