Le Corbusier (Charles Édouard Jeanneret)

French, born Switzerland

1887, La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland
1965, Roquebrune, France


A fervent believer in the promise of industrialization to transform modern life, Le Corbusier believed that architecture alone could change the world. Decades after his death, his name is still equated with the fervent idealism of the modern movement.

As a child growing up in a Swiss watch-making town, Le Corbusier gained firsthand knowledge of the tenuous relationship between craft and mass production. It was the workings of the latter, however, that informed the efficiency of his designs for several private villas in France and Switzerland, including Villa Savoye, a commission that Le Corbusier famously nicknamed "a machine for living."

Later in his career, Le Corbusier applied his principals of universal design to urban planning. In 1922, he drew up a hypothetical plan for Ville Contemporaine, a contemporary city for three million inhabitants. It was also in this time period that Le Corbusier published Vers une architecture (Toward a New Architecture), a manifesto declaring the importance of industrial forces in shaping the built environment.

His work in the 1940s and 1950s included the United Nations Headquarters in New York City; the chapel of Notre Dame du Haut in Ronchamp, France; and a master plan and several institutional buildings for Chandigarh, India. Harvard University's Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, completed in 1961, was Le Corbusier's last project before his death in 1965.

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