As an architect manqué (I really wish I’d been one: viz) I love what I consider to be outstanding buildings, especially outstanding houses, and especially what I consider to be buildings of genius. One such building is The Gropius House, at Lincoln, Massachusetts. Walter Gropius, the former head of The Bauhaus design bureau in Germany, and almost certainly one of the five greatest and most influential architects of modern times (with Mies van der Rohe; Frank Lloyd Wright; Le Corbusier; and Alva Aalto), seigned the house for his own use in the later nineteen-thirties, having fled Nazi Germany and accepted a teaching post at Harvard. He summed up his architectural philosophy thus:
“As to my practice, when I built my first house in the U.S.A.—which was my own—I made it a point to absorb into my own conception those features of the New England architectural tradition that I found still alive and adequate. This fusion of the regional spirit with a contemporary approach to design produced a house that I would never have built in Europe with its entirely different climatic, technical and psychological background.”Walter Gropius, Scope of Total Architecture (1956)
Which is what a great architect would say. And do.
Most modern houses are mediocre, mass-produced designs plonked down on a plot, and sold to buyers who happy with the mediocre. But a house should be designed to make the most of its location, to allow the enjoyment of the best views, to enable the degree of privacy the owners want, and to make the most of the local climate or tame it to the point where comfortable living can be enjoyed.
The Gropius House had a major influence on American architecture when it was built, and looks contemporary even now, several decades later. The Gropius House
An interesting item about Walter Gropius is that he had a daughter named Manon with his first wife Alma Mahler (who had been married to the composer Gustav Mahler), and when Manon died at a young age of polio, the composer Alban Berg wrote a violin concerto in her memory (“in the memory of an angel”). The concerto is considered a modern music masterpiece.