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November 25: The Prefab Architect

November 25, 2013
packaged_house1336516479896Konrad Wachsmann, a German modernist architect who developed a prefabricated construction system for wooden houses, died at age 79 on this date in 1980. Wachsmann was an award-winning architect when he escaped Germany, virtually penniless, in 1941, with the help of Albert Einstein, whose summer house at Caputh, near Potsdam, Wachsmann had designed in 1929. (He would help reconstruct the house in honor of Einstein’s centenary, in 1978-79.) In the U.S., Walter Gropius partnered with Wachsmann and helped him develop the “Packaged House System,” which could be used to assemble a single-family house in less than nine hours with only five workers. Wachsmann also developed a mobile aircraft hangar towards the end of World War II. “Tomorrow is everything.” —Konrad Wachsmann