A key contributor to the expression of modern architecture and design in the mid-20th century and an influential figure in both architectural education and the development of international architectural practice, Jean Tschumi (1904-1962) is now the subject of a major illustrated monograph, with the publication of Jean Tschumi: Architecture at Full Scale.
Published by Skira and distributed by Rizzoli International Publications (North America) and Thames and Hudson (elsewhere), Jean Tschumi: Architecture at Full Scale is written by the noted architectural historian Jacques Gubler and features 224 plates illustrating all phases of Tschumi’s work. The hardcover book also features a foreword by Tschumi’s son, architect Bernard Tschumi, and a chronology of Jean Tschumi’s life and career.
Born in Geneva, Switzerland, Tschumi developed his skills in drawing and woodworking at an early age under the tutelage of his father, Johann Tschumi, an independent artisan. After a period of apprenticeship and study in Lausanne, Jean moved to France in 1922, enrolled in the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, receiving a traditional training, and, while still a student, began working in the offices of designers Jacques-Emile Ruhlmann and Edgar Brandt. His experience in furniture design and the decorative arts, as well as his passion for the glass-and-steel architecture of American Modernism, became lasting themes in Tschumi’s body of work.
Among Tschumi’s most notable works are the Sandoz Laboratories in Orléans, France (completed in 1953); the Nestlé Headquarters in Vervey, Switzerland (completed 1960, for which Tschumi won the Reynolds Prize); and the headquarters building of the World Heath Organization in Geneva, a commission that Tschumi won in 1960 through a competition in which he edged out his contemporary, Eero Saarinen. In addition to his work as an architect, Jean Tschumi also played an important role in his profession as a founder and president of the International Union of Architects (UIA) and as the founder and dean of the architecture school at the Université de Lausanne.
Jean Tschumi died tragically in 1962, at age 57, at the height of his career. His design for the WHO headquarters was completed posthumously, in 1966.
“My father left behind a small group of buildings that are notable for their elegance and spatial ingenuity, ability to push existing and emerging technologies to extremes, and precision and complexity of detail,” Bernard Tschumi has written. “They reflect a remarkably rich training and culture and, above all, a broad and informed eye.”
“Through his work and his teaching, Tschumi sought an architecture that translated in industrial society rules that found their origins in Vitruvian classicism,” stated Jacques Gubler. “To achieve this, he seized on the American definition of technology, one that was understood as a direct application of state-of-the-art tools to the realization of modernity. His buildings manifest a kind of elegance, much in the way that physicists and mathematicians speak of ‘elegant solutions.’”
Jean Tschumi: Architecture at Full Scale
Jacques Gubler, foreword by Bernard Tschumi
Published by Skira, distributed in North America by Rizzoli
Hardcover / 224 Pages
US Price: $85.00
ISBN: 978-88-572-0071-2 (88-572-0071-X)