- Mendelsohn, Erich
- SUBJECT AREA: Architecture and building[br]b. 21 March 1887 Allenstein, East Prussiad. 15 September 1953 San Francisco, California, USA[br]German architect, a pioneering innovator in the modern International style of building that developed in Germany during the early 1920s.[br]In some examples of his work Mendelsohn envisaged bold, sculptural forms, dramatically expressed in light and shade, which he created with extensive use of glass, steel and concrete. Characteristic of his type of early Expressionism was his design for the Einstein Tower (1919), a physical laboratory and observatory that was purpose built for Professor Einstein's research work at Neubabelsburg near Berlin in 1921. As its shape suggests, this structure was intended to be made from poured concrete but, due to technical problems, it was erected in stucco-faced steel and brickwork. Equally dramatic and original were Mendelsohn's department stores, for example the pace-setting Schocken Stores at Stuttgart (1926) and Chemnitz (1928), the Petersdorff Store at Breslau (1927) (now Wrocaw in Poland), and a very different building, the Columbus Haus in Berlin (1929–31). One of his most original designs was also in this city, that for the complex on the great boulevard, the Kurfürstendamm, which included the Universum Cinema (1928). Mendelsohn moved to England in 1933, a refugee from Nazism, and there entered into partnership with another émigré, Serge Chermayeff from Russia. Together they were responsible for a building on the seafront at Bexhill-on-Sea, the De La Warr arts and entertainments pavilion (1935–6). This long, low, glass, steel and concrete structure was ahead of its time in England and comprised a theatre and restaurant; in the centre of the façade, facing the sea, is its chief architectural feature, a semicircular glazed staircase. Soon Mendelsohn moved on to Palestine, where he was responsible for the Government Hospital at Haifa (1937) and the Hadassah University Medical Centre in Jerusalem (1936); in both cases he skilfully adapted his mode to different climatic needs. He finally settled in the USA in 1941, where his most notable buildings are the Maimonides Hospital in San Francisco and the synagogues and Jewish community centres which he built in a number of American cities.[br]Further ReadingArnold Whittick, 1964, Erich Mendelsohn, Leonard Hill Books (the standard work).DY
Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. Lance Day and Ian McNeil. 2005.