marcel breuer: sun and shadow, the philosophy of an architect


A wordless, pictures-only post on Reference Library tipped me off to Marcel Breuer: Sun and Shadow, The Philosophy of an Architect, that Breuer wrote in the fifties. I found it on Ebay for a good price, through a “buy it now” dealer of out-of-print mid-century and design books. It’s a treasure, in part because of Alexi Brodovitch’s unique design: You holds the book sideways, turning the pages like a calendar, so each section is a double-page spread of drawings, photographs, plans, elevations.

But what is most amazing is to read the thought processes and logic behind Breuer’s designs. It’s given me a million ideas, from ways to use concrete block to a possible way to handle having an office in my bedroom, to a unique, see-through design that makes a simple brick fireplace really beautiful.


Breuer’s thinking: “By placing free-standing fireplace in the line of a view of the landscape, furniture arrangement is the same whether you watch the fire or look out through the glass walls. To prevent the fireplace from obstructing view too much, it has been perforated in several places and its bulk has thus been reduced.”

Almost 60 years later, Breuer’s resonating idea has been appropriated and translated again and again.

The New York Times

The New York Times

via The New York Times

3 Responses to marcel breuer: sun and shadow, the philosophy of an architect

  1. Flavia Bacarella 07.28.2009 at 11:16pm #

    Hi Sally,
    I started posting a comment and lost it so you may get two versions of this. Keith sent me your blog which I was happy to receive. I wanted to tell you that I work in a building designed by Marcel Breuer. It’s absolutely beautiful. It houses the Art Department, all of the studios, and the Art Gallery at Lehman College where I teach. Originally Breuer designed it as a library but later The Art Department took it over which is so appropriate. The light is extraordinary. I loe working there. I’ll try to send to find a photo to send you. The Lehman website doesn’t have a photo of the interior of the building.

  2. Sally 07.29.2009 at 2:37pm #

    Hi Flavia, Thank you so much for this info. I had no idea that there was a Breuer building on the Lehman campus and tried to hunt down a picture of it on the web: no luck. I would love to see what it looks like and will have to get myself to the Bronx to walk around in it (and hook up with you!). It must be truly amazing to work there.
    It also makes me realize how many treasures are probably right under my nose there are that I don’t even see or know about.

  3. pippin 07.29.2011 at 12:01pm #

    the original post was 2009, but today i found a nice set of pictures of the building on their website:

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