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Josep Lluis Sert

Josep Lluis Sert i Lopez (1902—1983) was a Spanish architect from Catalonia.

Born in Barcelona, he showed keen interest in the works of his uncle, the painter Josep Maria Sert and of Gaudi. He studied architecture at the Escola Superior d’Arquitectura in Barcelona and set up his own studio in 1929. That same year he shifted to Paris, in response to an invitation from Le Corbusier to work for him (without payment). Returning to Barcelona in 1930, he continued his practice there until 1937. During this period he founded the group GATCPAC, it later become with the addition of the western and north groups the GATEPAC, which was in turn the Spanish branch of the Congres International d’Architecture Moderne (CIAM).

Much later he became President of CIAM (1947-56). He created several outstanding pieces of modern architecture during this period, such as the week-end house at Garraf, Spain (1935), the Central Dispensary Barcelona (1935) and the Master Plan for the City of Barcelona (1933-35). From 1937 through 1939 he lived in Paris, where he designed the Spanish Republic’s pavilion at the World’s Fair, the Paris Exposition of 1937. The Spanish Pavilion was built right beside the Nazi Germany Pavilion, while in Spain the Civil War was going on and the Nazis had just bombed the town of Guernica. For the artistic content of the building Sert brought in his Spanish artist friends Picasso, Miro, and Calder; Picasso’s contribution was Guernica and became the focal attraction of Sert’s design.

In 1939 Sert went into exile in New York City where he worked with the Town Planning Associates, carrying out numerous urban plans for cities in South America.

In 1952, Sert held a one-year Visiting Professorship at Yale University. The following year he became Dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Design (1953-1969). There, he initiated the world’s first degree program in urban design; integrated the programs of architecture, planning, landscape and urban design, and taught many of today’s leading architects. During this period he served on the Advisory Board of the newly created Graham Foundation in Chicago, Illinois.

In 1955 Sert founded a studio in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which in 1958 became a partnership with Huson Jackson and Ronald Gourley. Joseph Zalewski was the Associate and continued to be in the firm Sert, Jackson and Associate founded in 1963. The studio designed many well known projects including the Maeght Foundation (1959-64) in Southern France, the Miro Studio (1975), the Holyoke Centre in Cambridge, Massachusetts (1958-65), the Harvard Science Center (1969-72), the Peabody Terrace Apartments (1962-64), the Eastwood and Westview apartments on Roosevelt Island (1976), and a complex at Boston University that includes its law school, student union, and main library (1960-65). In 1961 Sert brought Le Corbusier to the United States to design his first (and only) building there, the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts at Harvard, and a gallery in the Carpenter Center is now named in Sert’s honor.

Amongst Sert’s students and colleagues in his studio are the leading architects of America, Switzerland, Japan, India, Bolivia, Spain, France and Brazil.

Other Information

  • Name : Josep Lluis Sert i Lopez
  • Nationality : Spanish
  • Birth date : 1902
  • Birth place : Barcelona
  • Education : Escola Superior d’Arquitectura, Barcelona
  • Founded : GATCPAC
  • Firm : Sert, Jackson and Associate

Notable Projects

  • Week-end house at Garraf, Spain (1935)
  • Central Dispensary Barcelona (1935)
  • Master Plan for the City of Barcelona (1933-35)
  • Spanish Republic’s pavilion at the World’s Fair, the Paris Exposition (1937)
  • Maeght Foundation (1959-64) in Southern France
  • Miro Studio (1975)
  • Holyoke Centre in Cambridge, Massachusetts (1958-65)
  • Harvard Science Center (1969-72)
  • Peabody Terrace Apartments (1962-64)
  • Eastwood and Westview apartments on Roosevelt Island (1976)
  • Boston University, includes its law school, student union, and main library (1960-65)

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