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Despina Stratigakos

(b Riga, Latvia, March 12, 1901; d Washington, DC, April 19, 1978).

American architect of Latvian birth, active also in Palestine. Gidoni was a Berlin-based architect who was among those who fled Nazi persecution and helped to bring European modernism to Palestine and the USA. She attended the Academy of Arts in St Petersburg in Russia and received further training at the Berlin Technical University, but did not graduate with a degree. In 1928 she opened an office for interior design in Berlin. When Adolf Hitler seized power in 1933, her Jewish background put her at peril. Hearing that people with technical skills were needed for the construction of new cities in Palestine, she resettled in Tel Aviv, where she maintained her own architecture office from 1933 to 1938. Both her design skills and the vision of a modern architecture that she had brought with her from Berlin were in demand. Tel Aviv was not only growing rapidly, but also developing a new style....

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Elisabeth Vitou

(b Istanbul, Nov 21, 1900; d Antibes, Oct 29, 1970).

American architect of Armenian birth. After studying at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Vienna, he worked for a time with Josef Hoffmann and Oskar Strnad. He went to live in Paris in 1920 and became an important colleague of Robert Mallet-Stevens. His first projects included a design for a concrete villa on pilotis, which Siegfried Giedion considered a forerunner of Le Corbusier’s Villa Laroche, and which confirmed him to be an exponent of functionalism, favouring concrete, geometric volumes and smooth walls. He gained public recognition with his designs for Sonia Delaunay’s Boutique Simultanée and the Cubist garden at the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes in Paris in 1925. This led to the commission for the garden of the villa for Vicomte Charles de Noailles at Hyères. In 1926, while working on Robert Mallet-Stevens’s Rue Mallet-Stevens in Paris, he set up his own firm and worked on a variety of projects for villas and large houses in the Paris area and on the Côte d’Azur. The widely publicized villa that he built for the couturier ...

Article

Ita Heinze-Greenberg

(b Allenstein [now Olsztyn, Poland], March 21, 1887; d San Francisco, Sept 15, 1953).

German architect, teacher, and writer, active also in England, Palestine, and the USA. Mendelsohn was one of the most influential exponents of architectural Expressionism, and his sketches of fluid organic building forms and his Einstein Tower, Potsdam, are among the best-known products of the movement. Although his later work abandoned three-dimensional forms in favour of more conventional, geometric designs, these often incorporated curvilinear plans and retained an innovative dynamism.

Mendelsohn grew up as one of six children of a Jewish business family in the small East Prussian town of Allenstein. Following his father’s wishes, in 1907 he began to study economics at the University of Munich but in 1908 followed his own inclinations and enrolled as an architecture student at the Technische Hochschule, Berlin. In 1910 he returned to Munich to complete his architectural studies under Theodor Fischer, one of the most progressive teachers at the Technische Hochschule, and as a student he met several Expressionist artists, including Paul Klee, Franz Marc, Vasily Kandinsky, and Hugo Ball. After graduating in ...