Marcel Breuer

Writings on architecture

Marcel Breuer writings

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Lest we forget

Published on

04 August 2019

“Is there today such a thing as a demonstrative architectural form? Is there a structural symbol comparable to the archaic column, the Gothic arch, the Renaissance dome? It is, perhaps, the cantilevered slab — light and slightly resilient in the wind…” — Marcel Breuer

“Until recently, the only way to build was to exploit the dead weight of stones or bricks or wooden logs, to pile one on top of the other; beams or arches that depended upon gravity or compression-principle for their strength. The great change in construction has been the shift from simple compression structures to continuous, fluent tension-structures. This change is so radical that it alone would justify a completely new architectural concept. The past used gravity to defeat gravity; the Egyptian pyramid is broad at the base and narrowing to a point at the top. The ‘new structure’ in its most expressive form is hollow below and substantial on top — just the reverse of the pyramid. It represents a new epoch in the history of man, the realization of one of his oldest ambitions; the defeat of gravity…” — Marcel Breuer

“As a result, we can now cantilever structures way out into the air — either horizontally, or vertically, as in a skyscraper. In either case, the seemingly unsupported structure reaching out into air is really tied to the rest of the building and to the ground. The whole skeleton of the building is a continuously integrated frame, and any stress on one part of it is resisted by all other parts of the frame. It is the principle of the tree: a structure cantilevered out of the ground, with branches and twigs in turn cantilevered out from the central tree trunk…” — Marcel Breuer

“Somebody said ‘architecture is frozen music.’ This is true, though I have my reservations about the word ‘frozen.’ How about opening the doors, sliding open the windows or walls, going in and out, moving the chairs? How about the curtains, the changing light, color, and atmosphere… you not only see or photograph architecture, you live in it. It should be alive, not ‘frozen.’

“Somebody else said it’s a ‘machine for living.’ Again true, but you don’t want to get greasy if you lean against the wall. You want to have something simpler, more elemental, more generous, and more human than a machine.” — Marcel Breuer

“The real impact of any work is the extent to which it unifies contrasting notions, opposing points of view. The easy method of meeting contrasting problems is the feeble compromise. The solution for the contrasts between black and white is gray — that is the easy way. Sun and shadow does not mean a cloudy day.” — Marcel Breuer

breuer architectures in dwg

Geller House I

Geller House II

Hooper House II

Josephine M. Hagerty House

“Wassily” chair B3 model

Noyes House I

Whitney Museum

Wise Cottage

Robinson house

Grieco House

Breuer house I – 1939

House in MoMA Garden

Lauck House

Stillman House II

Abele House

Breuer house I – 1948

Chamberlain Cottage

James Ford house

Stillman House III

Breuer house II – 1951

Caesar cottage