Erwin Anton Gutkind (1886-1968)

Architect, city planner, and urban historian

Updated: October 13, 2011

Erwin Anton Gutkind was a central figure in the German architectural avant-garde during the 1920s. After he left Germany in 1933, he developed an academic interest in international urban developments and published widely on this topic.

Erwin Anton Gutkind was born in Berlin, where he also received his architectural education. He studied at the University of Berlin as well as the Polytechnical Institute in Berlin-Charlottenburg, earning a PhD from the latter shortly before the outbreak of World War I. During the war and the years of economic crisis that followed, Gutkind worked as a state official for urban reconstruction and housing. From 1923 until 1933, he was active as an independent architect and planning consultant. During this period he almost exclusively focused on publicly financed projects. Although his projects and concepts fit well into the architectural avant-garde of Weimar Germany, his personal ties with other avant-garde architects, such as Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Walter Gropius, were limited.

In 1933, Gutkind, who came from a Jewish family, left Germany to avoid persecution by the Nazi government. His departure from Germany also marked the end of his career as an active architect. After 1933, Gutkind focused on city planning projects and on his academic interests. He spent a short time in France, returned to Germany briefly in 1934, and moved to England in 1935. Until 1945, he worked primarily as a planning consultant and researcher for the city of London. After World War II, he returned to Germany for a second time, working on reconstruction projects in the British occupation zone.

In 1956, Gutkind took a position at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. His contacts in the United States included central figures such as Lewis Mumford and Martin Meyerson. In Philadelphia, Gutkind dedicated most of his time to the compilation of his monumental work International History of City Development. Nevertheless, the magnum opus was left unfinished at the time of his death in 1968, only to be later completed by his daughter.

Selected Publications

Gutkind, Erwin A. International History of City Development. New York: Free Press of Glencoe, 1964.

Gutkind, Erwin A. Our World from the Air. An International Survey of Man and His Environment. Garden City, N.Y: Doubleday, 1952.

Selected Bibliography

Grabow, Stephen. "The Outsider in Retrospect: E. A. Gutkind." Journal of the American Institute of Planners 41, no. 3 (1975): 200-212.

Hierl, Rudolf. Erwin Gutkind, 1886-1968. Architektur als Stadtraumkunst. Basel/Boston: Birkhäuser, 1992.

Archival Collections

Erwin Anton Gutkind Collection, Architectural Archives, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA.

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