Black Mountain College Project   

    Short Biographical Sketches of Individuals Associated with Black Mountain College

Herbert Bayer (5 April 1900, Haag, Austria - 29 September 1985, New York) was a student at the Bauhaus, Weimar, 1921-23. From 1925-28 he taught advertising layout and typography at the Bauhaus. In 1938 he came to the United States. When he visited Black Mountain College in 1938, he was working on the exhibition Bauhaus 1919-1928 at the Museum of Modern Art. He held many positions as art director of periodicals and was art director for Dorland International and the Container Corporation of America, among others. His stepson Jerrold Levy attended Black Mountain College.


Harold Bush-Brown (1888-1983)   Harold Bush-Brown was appointed head of the architecture department at the Georgia School of Technology (Georgia Institute of Technology) in 1925. While there he transformed the department with a beaux-arts tradition to one reflecting Bauhaus ideals. In 1940 he established an industrial design department, and in 1954, an urban design department. He hired as faculty those who had studied at Harvard and other Bauhaus-influenced schools. He is author of Beaux-Arts to Bauhaus and Beyond: An Architect's Perspective (New York: Whitney Library of Design, 1976).  Bush-Brown's son Richard Bush-Brown studied at Black Mountain College. Georgia Institute of Technology College of Architecture


Marcel Breuer (21 May 1902, Pécs, Hungary – 1 July 1981, New York City) In 1921, Marcel Breuer, architect and furniture designer, enrolled at the Bauhaus which had been founded by architect Walter Gropius (Master’s diploma 1924). After graduation, he headed the carpentry workshop. It was during this period that he designed his tubular steel chair, inspired by bicycle handlebars. Breuer established an architectural practice in Berlin. In 1935 he moved to London where he, like Gropius, worked for the Isokon Control Company. In 1937 Walter Gropius invited Breuer to teach with him in the Department of Architecture at Harvard University. From 1937 to 1941, he and Gropius formed an architectural practice in Cambridge. In 1946 he established an independent architectural practice in New York. The firm designed major commissions including corporate headquarters, residential buildings, a college campus, and industrial buildings.

In January 1939 Gropius and Breuer were commissioned by Black Mountain College to draw plans for the Lake Eden Campus. Breuer and his wife Constance visited the college in April 1939 to discuss the college’s ideas with the community and to examine its first four graduates in art. In 1940 he visited in May, June and September to discuss the plans and also to supervise the construction of a house he had designed for an Austrian-born opthamologist, Dr. Sprinza Weizenblatt, who had moved to Asheville after World War One (it is assumed that she made Breuer’s acquaintance when he was visiting Black Mountain). In July 1941, Breuer was invited to lecture at the North Carolina Chapter of the AIA in Asheville, and he visited the college while there.

See: Black Mountain College Newsletter, 4, March1939, Black Mountain College Newsletter, No. 8, May 1940,
Gropius-Breuer Plans

Weizenblatt House, Asheville, NC, 1939. Photograph by Claude Stoller: Courtesy Black Mountain College Research Project Papers, North Carolina State Archives.


John Burchard (8 December 1898, Marshall, Minnesota - December 1975, Boston, Massachusetts) graduated from MIT (B.S. 1923; M.S. 1925) in architectural engineering. After graduation, Burchard worked in private industry. In 1938 he joined the MIT faculty to teach and as director of the Albert Farwell Bemis Foundation. From  1940-45 he worked for the National Research Council and the Defense Research Committee. From 1950-69 he was dean of the School of Humanities and Social Science at MIT. He was author of a number of books on architecture.


Pierre Chareau (3 August 1883, France - 1950, New York) In 1940 Pierre Chareau arrived in the United States from France where he had been an integral part of the French literary and artistic avant-garde. There he was known primarily for his furniture design and interior decoration. In 1928 in Paris he designed La Maison de Verre (The House of Glass), the first house of steel and glass, . In New York he designed Robert Motherwell's workshop and designed exhibition installations.


Serge Chermayeff (8 October 1900, Grozney, Azerbaijan - 8 May 1996, Wellfleet, Massachusetts) Serge Chermayeff was educated in England. In partnership with Erich Mendelsohn he pioneered major modern buildings there. In 1939 he emigrated to the United States. From 1940-42 Chermayeff was director of the design department at the Chicago School of Design (later the Chicago Institute of Design). From 1942-46 he was head of the art department at Brooklyn College in New York, and from 1946-51 director of the Institute of Design in Chicago. After his resignation, he taught at universities including Harvard, MIT and Yale. He continued to practice architecture and is author of a number of books. His papers are in the Department of Drawings and Archives, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University.


Jean Bodman Fletcher (20 January 1915, Boston, MA -13 September 1965) Jean Fletcher graduated from Smith College in 1937 and studied architecture at the Cambridge School , an architecture school for women. Along with her husband Norman Fletcher, she was a founding member of The Architects Collaborative in 1945. She received her Bachelor of Architecture from Harvard University in 1944.


Norman C. Fletcher (8 December 1917, Providence, RI  - 31 May 2007, Rockport, ME) Norman Fletcher studied architecture at Yale University. He worked for Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and Saarinen, Swanson & Associates before becoming a founding member with Walter Gropius and others of The Architects Collaborative in 1945 and remained with TAC until the firm dissolved in 1995. Norman Fletcher, 89; cofounded influential architects group - The Boston Globe


Bertrand Goldberg (17 July 1913, Chicago - 8 October 1997, Illinois). Bertrand Goldberg studied at Harvard University from 1932-33 and graduated from Armour Institute of Technology in 1934. His designs for Marina City in Chicago (1963) attracted international attention. Other designs include the Astor Tower Hotel in Chicago, the San Diego Theater in La Jolla, California,  the Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, River City in Chicago.

    Philip Lippencott Goodwin (1885-1958). Philip Goodwin and Edward Durell Stone designed the Museum of Modern Art which was completed in 1939.
    William Lescaze (27 March 1896, Onex, Switzerland - 9 February 1969, New York, New York) William Lescaze was educated in Switzerland and emigrated to the United States in 1920. In 1923 he established his own architectural practice. In 1929-34 he shared a partnership with George Howe in Philadelphia. A major project was the Philadelphia Savings Fund Society building, a modern skyscraper. Kimbell Glass Company Factory in Vineland, New Jersey (1936) and

José Luis Sert (1 July 1902, Barcelona, Spain -- 15 March 1983, Cambridge, Massachusetts)  Sert was educated in Spain and worked in Spain and France from 1929-39. His visit to Black Mountain in 1940 occurred soon after his arrival in the United States in 1939. From 1941-59 he was co-founder and a partner in Town Planning Associates in New York City. From 1953-69 he was dean of the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University. He was a partner in architectural firms and worked on urban plans for cities in South America.   Jose Luis Sert


Christopher Tunnard (7 July 1910, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada -- 13 February 1979, New York) Christopher Tunnard was educated in Canada and in London, In 1942 he received his M.A. degree from Yale University. In 1941 when he visited Black Mountain, he was a lecturer in landscape architecture and regional planning in the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University. From1945-1975 he taught city planning at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. He wrote a number of books on city planning and landscape architecture.


Willis Duke Weatherford (1 December 1875, Weatherford, Texas - 1970, Black Mountain, North Carolina). Willis Weatherford was president of  the Blue Ridge Association (YMCA) (later, Blue Ridge College, Inc.) when Black Mountain rented buildings from the YMCA (1933-41). From 1936-46, he was head of the Department of Religion and Philosophy at Fisk University, and from 1915-70, Director of the American Cast Iron Pipe Co. He wrote a number of books on the culture of the Appalachian area, on race relations, and on religion.


Sprinza Weizenblatt (1895-1987) Dr. Sprinza Weizenblatt came to Asheville from Austria to practice with a local opthamologist who had studied in Vienna where she had graduated from the Vienna Eye Clinic. She was a prominent citizen of Asheville. She created a garden for the blind as well as the Memorial Mission Eye Service. Presumably, it was on one of Marcel Breuer's visits to Black Mountain College that she met him and asked him to design her home.

    Mirian Willard (20 April 1904, New York City -             ). In 1936 Marian Willard founded the East River Gallery. In 1938 she changed the name to the Neumann-Willard Gallery, then later became the Willard Gallery. Her gallery gave exhibitions to abstract artists both American-born and European.
    Catherine Bauer Wurster (11 May 1905, Elizabeth, New Jersey - 1964. Catherine Wurster was among those identified as "housers" who felt that affordable housing for low-income families was essential to the American system. She was educated at Cornell University and Vassar College. After graduation she lived in Europe where she was friend to avant garde artists and colleague of modernist architects. Her book Modern Housing, published in 1934, had tremendous influence. She co-authored the United States Housing Act of 1937 and was advisor to presidents on housing policy. When she visited Black Mountain in 1945 she was a Lecturer in the Department of City and Regional Planning at Harvard. 
    William Wurster (20 October 1895, Stockton, California - 19 September 1973, Berkeley, California)  In 1945 when William Wurster and Catherine Bauer Wurster visited Black Mountain College, he was dean of the School of Architecture and Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts. From 1950-59 he was dean of the College of Architecture at the University of California, Berkeley, and from 1959-63 dean of the College of Environmental Design. He also maintained a private practice and was recipient of many awards.

The Black Mountain College Project gratefully acknowledges a grant from the Graham Foundation
for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts for a study of architecture at Black Mountain College.