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Architectural Record, Mid-May, 1961

Going Beyond the Bauhaus

By Suzanne Stephens

The houses that Marcel Breuer designed in the several decades after he arrived in the United States in 1937 stand out as masterful examples of the stringent principles of the Bauhaus, where he was both a student and teacher. Once in America, Breuer began to demarcate Bauhaus-style open plans and taut planes with local, natural materials, as seen by a house in Baltimore, Maryland, built in 1959–60 for Arthur Hooper, a lawyer, and his wife, Edith, a patron of the arts. With his associate Herbert Beckard, Breuer created a spectacularly long, low house of Maryland fieldstone, in a wooded sanctuary at the city’s edge. The rectilinear, 5,000-square-foot house features a central, square courtyard that separates public (living, dining, kitchen) areas from private spaces (a cluster of six bedrooms and a family room). In this mostly one-level structure, stone walls and lally columns support the steel beams and wood joists of the flat roof, while the floors are concrete. Breuer took advantage of the grade change to tuck in a lower level for stables for the Hoopers’ horses, a caretakers’ apartment, and a garage. “I loved growing up in the house,” says a daughter, Queene Hooper Foster. “It was like being in a country club, with quick and easy access to the outdoors, and to the stables downstairs.”

The house was put on the market in 1995, after Edith Hooper, by then a widow, passed away. But first, Queene’s husband, Jonathan S. Foster, a New York architect, renovated it. Foster found the fieldstone walls to be in peak condition owing to the fact that Breuer had brought Italian masons to Baltimore to the erect them. Nevertheless, Foster needed to rebuild single-pane sliding glass doors. He also replaced the discolored acoustical-tile ceilings with white Sheetrock and substituted carpeting for vinyl-tile flooring in areas not surfaced in bluestone. Fortunately, a buyer showed up in 1996 who was sympathetic to the architecture. Dr. Richard North, a neurosurgeon whose father, William North, was an architect in New York, explains, “I was attracted to the way the house brought in the outdoors with floor-to-ceiling glass, and framed the views of the lake.” He made only a few adjustments to update the house for his family’s needs—such as converting the stables into a garage, installing air-conditioning, and drilling holes in the concrete slab floor for cable and Internet access.

Even though Edith Hooper’s art collection (with works by Calder, Noguchi, Klee, Johns, and de Kooning) had been given to museums and the furniture dispersed, a lot of Breuer built-in cabinets and shelves remained. North searched for furniture with a ’50s Modern design look, along with art that goes with that period. “We wanted a place where Mrs. Hooper would feel at home if she were to walk back in,” he says.

Click images to see larger.
At the rear of the house, glazed walls embrace the view (above). An opening in the rear wall of the courtyard, directly on axis with the entrance path, frames a view of the woods (below).
 
Stone walls alternate with glass to partition spaces (above and below).
Above photos © Walter Smalling
The original layout in RECORD published in 1961.
 

     
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