Chermayeff, Serge, 1900-1996

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1900-10-08
Death 1996-08-05
Americans
English

Biographical notes:

Chermayeff taught architecture at Harvard.

From the description of Papers of Serge Ivan Chermayeff, 1945-1947 (inclusive). (Harvard University). WorldCat record id: 76973005

Architect, educator.

From the description of Oral history interview with Serge Chermayeff, 1985 May 23-24. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 77808794

Sergei Ivanovitch Issakovitch was born on October 8, 1900, in Grozny, then in Caucasia. He was educated in England, where he took the name of Serge Chermayeff at the suggestion of his guardian. By age thirty, Chermayeff had already become an established designer with his own architectural firm. He came to the United States in 1940, accepting a teaching position at Brooklyn College two years later. He stayed at Brooklyn College as professor and chairman of the department of design until 1946, when he moved to the Institute of Design in Chicago, where he was president for four years. In 1953, he became professor of architecture at Harvard University. He concluded his career as a professor at Yale University, where he taught between 1962 and 1969, at which time he became professor emeritus. He died on May 8, 1996.

From the guide to the Serge Chermayeff papers, 1957-1968, (Manuscripts and Archives)

d. May 8, 1996, Wellfleet, Mass.

From the description of Artist file : miscellaneous uncataloged material. (Museum of Modern Art (MOMA)). WorldCat record id: 84481106

Serge Ivan Chermayeff was born in 1901 in Groznyy, Azerbaijan, and attended secondary school in England. He began his career as an interior designer for the London firm of Waring & Gillow, creating streamlined modern interiors for various residential and commercial clients. In 1931 he formed his own architectural office and was joined in 1933 by German Erich Mendelsohn, with whom he designed several notable projects in and around London and Southern England, including the De La Warr Pavilion (1934-1935), the R. J. Nimmo residence (1935), and the Dennis Cohen residence (1936), each a notable example of International Style design. Although his partnership with Mendelsohn ended in 1936, both men remained friends for many years. Among Chermayeff's most important designs during this period was that for his own residence, Bentley Wood (1937-1938), in East Sussex, England. A controversial laboratory for his ideas about public and private spaces and modern aesthetics, it received considerable attention from the architectural press. It led, however, to financial difficulties and Chermayeff was forced to sell in 1939, barely a year after completion.

In 1940, Chermayeff immigrated to the United States, settling briefly in San Francisco, California, to collaborate with local architects on several residential and commercial projects, including the Clarence Mayhew residence (1942) and the Walter Horn residence (1942). Chermayeff soon moved to New York City to become professor of art at Brooklyn College, a position he held until Walter Gropius recommended him in 1946 to serve as president of the Institute of Design in Chicago following László Moholy-Nagy's death. Chermayeff left Chicago in 1951 after the Institute of Design merged with the Illinois Institute of Technology. Teaching briefly at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Chermayeff then joined the faculty at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard in 1953, where he was instrumental in developing a rigorous curriculum for urban design and planning and in organizing symposia and collaborative projects around issues of contemporary urbanism. During this period, Chermayeff also maintained a small private architecture practice with Hayward Cutting. In 1962, Chermayeff accepted an appointment in Yale's School of Architecture, where he continued his research and teaching in areas of human interactions with city planning and architecture.

With co-author Christopher Alexander, Chermayeff published "Community and Privacy: Toward a New Architecture of Humanism (Garden City, N. Y., Doubleday, 1963), and with co-author Alexander Tzonis he published "Shape of Community: Realization of Human Potential (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1971), both idiosyncratic but widely considered studies of how human biological and social needs intersect with the built environment. Chermayeff's selected lectures and writings were published in "Design and the Public Good," in 1982, which was edited by Richard Plunz, professor in the School of Architecture at Columbia University. A frequent speaker, guest critic, and prolific writer, Chermayeff was also active in numerous professional organizations, including CIAM, MARS, and the American Society of Architects and Planners, and was awarded honorary degrees from several colleges and universities. In addition, he was a life-long artist, industrial designer, and poet, exhibiting at galleries in Chicago and Boston and self-publishing several anthologies of his poetry. Throughout his years in the United States, Chermayeff also sustained close ties to Cape Cod, Massachusetts, maintaining a home and studio near Wellfleet, designing experimental architecture for several clients in the area, and advocating for the establishment of the Cape Cod National Seashore. Chermayeff died in Wellfleet, Massachusetts, in 1996.

From the description of Serge Chermayeff architectural records and papers, 1909-1980. (Columbia University In the City of New York). WorldCat record id: 505729803

Serge Ivan Chermayeff was born on October 8, 1900 near Grozny in the Chechen region of the Northern Caucasus. Chermayeff attended secondary school in England. He began his career as an interior designer for the London firm of Waring & Gillow, creating streamlined modern interiors for various residential and commercial clients. In 1931 he formed his own architectural office and was joined in 1933 by German émigré Erich Mendelsohn, with whom he designed several notable projects in and around London and Southern England, including the De La Warr Pavilion (1934-1935), the R. J. Nimmo residence (1935), and the Dennis Cohen residence (1936), each a notable example of International Style design. Although his partnership with Mendelsohn ended in 1936, both men remained friends for many years. Among Chermayeff’s most important designs during this period was that for his own residence, Bentley Wood (1937-1938), in East Sussex, England. A controversial laboratory for his ideas about public and private spaces and modern aesthetics, it received considerable attention from the architectural press. It led, however, to financial difficulties and Chermayeff was forced to sell in 1939, barely a year after completion.

In 1940, Chermayeff immigrated to the United States, settling briefly in San Francisco, California, to collaborate with local architects on several residential and commercial projects, including the Clarence Mayhew residence (1942) and the Walter Horn residence (1942). Chermayeff soon moved to New York City to become professor of art at Brooklyn College, a position he held until Walter Gropius recommended him in 1946 to serve as president of the Institute of Design in Chicago following László Moholy-Nagy's death. Chermayeff left Chicago in 1951 after the Institute of Design merged with the Illinois Institute of Technology. Teaching briefly at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Chermayeff joined the faculty at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard in 1953, where he was instrumental in developing a rigorous curriculum for urban design and planning and in organizing symposia and collaborative projects around issues of contemporary urbanism. During this period, Chermayeff also maintained a small private architecture practice with Hayward Cutting. In 1962, Chermayeff accepted a position at Yale’s School of Architecture, where he continued his research and teaching in areas of human interactions with city planning and architecture.

With co-author Christopher Alexander, Chermayeff published Community and Privacy: Toward a New Architecture of Humanism (Garden City, N. Y., Doubleday, 1963), and with co-author Alexander Tzonis he published Shape of Community: Realization of Human Potential (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1971), both idiosyncratic but widely considered studies of how human biological and social needs intersect with the built environment. Chermayeff’s selected lectures and writings were published in Design and the Public Good, in 1982, which was edited by Richard Plunz, professor in the School of Architecture at Columbia University. A frequent speaker, guest critic, and prolific writer, Chermayeff was also active in numerous professional organizations, including CIAM, MARS, and the American Society of Architects and Planners, and was awarded honorary degrees from several colleges and universities. In addition, he was a life-long artist, industrial designer, and poet, exhibiting at galleries in Chicago and Boston and self-publishing several anthologies of his poetry.

Throughout his years in the United States, Chermayeff also sustained close ties to Cape Cod, Massachusetts, maintaining a home and studio near Wellfleet, designing experimental architecture for several clients in the area, and advocating for the establishment of the Cape Cod National Seashore. Chermayeff died in Wellfleet, Massachusetts, in 1996.

From the guide to the Serge Chermayeff architectural records and papers, 1909-1980, 1930s-1970s, (Columbia University Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Department of Drawings & Archives, )

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Subjects:

  • Newspaper offices--United States--Orleans (Massachusetts)
  • Architecture
  • Architecture--Massachusetts--Cape Cod
  • Showrooms--Interior design--England--London--Regent Street
  • Architects--Correspondence
  • Cape Cod National Seashore (Mass.)
  • Furniture--Tubular steel--20th century
  • Vacation homes
  • Institute of Design (Chicago, Ill.)
  • Architecture--India--20th century
  • Architects--20th century
  • Houses--England--London--Hamlyn house (Cohen house)
  • Architects--Great Britain--20th century
  • Newspaper buildings
  • Architecture, Modern--20th century--United States
  • Architects--United States
  • Apartment houses--20th century
  • National parks and reserves Law and legislation Massachusetts
  • Exhibition--England--London
  • Brooklyn College
  • Architects--Interviews
  • City planning
  • Industrial designers United States
  • Laboratories
  • Houses--20th century--England
  • Architecture--History--20th century
  • Harvard University. Graduate School of Design
  • Houses--20th century--United States--California
  • Country homes
  • International style (Architecture)
  • Yale University. School of Art and Architecture
  • Architects
  • Architecture--Study and teaching
  • Steel furniture
  • Houses--20th century--United States--Maine
  • Architecture--Great Britain--20th century
  • Industrial designers
  • Weekend houses--Architects'--United States--Wellfleet (Massachusetts)--Chermayeff house
  • Architects--United States--Correspondence
  • National parks and reserves--Law and legislation
  • Office buildings--England--London--Camden Town--Gilbey House
  • Pavilions--20th century--England--Bexhill--De La Warr Pavilion
  • Apartment houses--United States
  • Laboratories--England--Manchester
  • Dwellings--20th century
  • Urban planning
  • London (England). Weingarten Brothers Showrooms
  • Country houses--Architects'--England--Sussex--Bentley Wood (Chermayeff house)

Occupations:

  • Architect
  • Educators

Places:

  • Massachusetts--Cape Cod (as recorded)
  • Great Britain (as recorded)
  • England (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • Massachusetts--Wellfleet (as recorded)
  • England--Manchester (as recorded)
  • Illinois--Chicago (as recorded)
  • Cape Cod National Seashore (Mass.) (as recorded)
  • Maine (as recorded)
  • India (as recorded)
  • Massachusetts--Orleans (as recorded)