Erich Mendelsohn, "The Modern Department Store" (1929)
Erich Mendelsohn (1887-1953) was one of Europe’s best-known architects in the 1920s. He was responsible for the design of multiple modernist department stores in German cities, major factories, and the famous Einstein Tower in Potsdam, which exemplified his functional but organic aesthetic. After 1933, Mendelsohn worked in Britain, the U.S., and Palestine. Although he continued to design buildings, in exile he never achieved the same renown as contemporaries Walter Gropius and Mies van der Rohe. In this excerpt, he assesses the modern department store in relation to the broader context of economics and urban life, arguing for an architecture oriented to contemporary realities.