Walter Gropius and TAC

In 1919, Walter Gropius was installed as the Director of the newly founded and widely influential Bauhaus, the German national school of architecture and design in Dessau, Germany. At the Bauhaus Gropius established a new approach to art education based in equality, craftsmanship, and open discourse between artists. After the Nazis closed the Bauhaus, Gropius fled Germany first to England, and eventually accepted an invitation to assume the chairmanship of the Department of Architecture at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. A number of his students and associates followed him to the U.S., including Marcel Breuer, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and Cambridge became a new global center for the modern architecture movement.

In 1945, Gropius, along with seven younger architects, became a founding member of The Architects' Collaborative (TAC) in Cambridge. TAC embraced the idea of collaboration over individualism in design, aimed at the higher purpose of “architecture for the sake of a healthy society.” About Gropius and his contributions to TAC, co-founder Sally Harkness said “Everybody wants to think of him as one of the world’s great designers, but he wasn’t. He was one of the world’s great philosophers.”

Over the following 50 years, TAC designed buildings around the United States and the world, earning recognition as one of the most notable firms in post-war modernism and receiving the AIA Firm Award in 1964. The firm worked in the International Style up to Gropius’ death in 1969, and gravitated to Post-Modernism thereafter.

TAC closed its doors in 1995, but its legacy lives on in local spinoff firms including Cambridge Seven Associates, Benjamin Thompson and Associates, and ARC/Architectural Resources Cambridge.

To learn more about TAC, see: