Thursday, November 10, 2016

Erich Mendelsohn

Erich Mendelsohn (March 21, 1887 – September 15, 1953) was a well-known architect whose severe modern style was typical of the German Expressionist movement as well as functionalism. He designed a number of very famous buildings in Germany in the early decades of the twentieth century. Fearing for his future because he was Jewish, Mendelsohn fled from Germany in 1933.

Mendelsohn was a leader in the Modernist school, which included Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe, and Walter Gropius. His early works were designed and built in Germany. After leaving Germany, he also designed pre-war buildings in Jerusalem and for the Weizmann House and the campus of the Weizmann Institute in Rehovoth, Israel. After 1940, he designed several synagogues and other buildings in the US, including a synagogue very close to where I grew up in University City, Missouri. When I was young, I knew the building was unusual, but I was unaware of the fame of its architect.

Photos of the few buildings by Mendelsohn that I've seen:

Mendelsohn building on the campus of the Weizmann Institute.
We visited there and took the photos in 2006, soon after a major
restoration of the building.
Weizmann building.
Weizmann House, Rehovot, Israel, visited 2006.
Erich Mendelsohn designed the Weizmann house near the Rehovot campus in the late 1930s, working closely with Vera Wiezmann, wife of the famous Zionist leader and founder of Israel, Chaim Weizmann. It was very unusual for an Israeli house: a trivial example -- the GE refrigerator still in the kitchen is said to have been the first refrigerator in Israel!

Kitchen of the Weizmann house.
Staircase of the Weizmann house.
In 2008, we walked around the area of University City where the building Mendelsohn designed still stands. No longer used as a synagogue, the building now houses a performance arts school.

Former B'nai Amoona Synagoge,
University City, Mo.
Side view of synagogue, showing small round
windows often seen in Mendelsohn's designs.

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