Architect Of Note

Henry Klumb

Heinrich Klumb (1905, Cologne, Germany - 1984, San Juan, Puerto Rico) was a German architect who worked in Puerto Rico. He was one of Puerto Rico's most prominent architects in the mid 20th Century.

Klumb was born in Cologne, Germany in 1905. An honors graduate of the Staatliche Bauschule School of Architecture in Cologne in 1926, his design education in Germany was influenced by the Deutsche Werkbund school, a plastic arts program developed by German architect Herman Muthesius. Klumb emigrated to the United States in 1927, at the age of 22. He served as one of Frank Lloyd Wright's first apprentices (1929-1933) at Taliesin North (Spring Green, Wisconsin). While under Wright's apprentiship, Klumb worked in the design of the construction camp at Ocatillo, Arizona and led the exhibition of Wright's work in Europe in 1931. In August, 1931, while coordinating Frank Lloyd Wright travelling exhibit, Klumb married Else Schmidt, returning to the United States in November of that year. They had two children, Peter (born 1936), and Richard (born 1940). Klumb became a US citizen in 1937.

After leaving Taliesen in 1933, Klumb contributed in the design the New Deal town of Greenbelt, New Jersey. In 1937 he established along with Louis I. Kahn and Louis Metzinger, the Cooperative Planners firm in Philadelphia concentrating in the design of low-cost pre-fabricated houses. He also designed a major exhibition of Native American Art for the Golden Gate Exhibition of 1939 in San Francisco, where he lived before relocating to Los Angeles in 1941. In Los Angeles, he helped develop the city's master plan. He's responsible for the design of the Battaglia, Coty and Meador houses in Burbank, CA, as well as the Plumb house in Los Angeles during that period.

Having met New Deal brain trust planner Rexford Tugwell in the late 1930s, he was invited to move to Puerto Rico in 1944 and collaborate in the design of post-war modern Puerto Rico. A nomad for the first four decades of his life, he left Los Angeles on February 24, 1944, his 39th birthday and finally found a "home" in San Juan, Puerto Rico and devoted most of the rest of his life to building up Puerto Rico. Shortly after his arrival in Puerto Rico, Klumb worked in the Public Works Design Committee. As a member of the Design Committee, he was responsible for the design of multiple government structures throughout Puerto Rico.

Shortly after his arrival in Puerto Rico, Klumb founded, along with Taliesen fellow, Stephen Arneson, the ARKLU furniture factory, which produced distinctive tropical furniture utilizing native woods, leather and cord.

His most important work on the island was the campus master plan for the University of Puerto Rico from 1946 to 1966, as well as the design of many of its buildings. These included the Río Piedras Faculty Residences in 1946, the Río Piedras Agricultural Experimental Station, the UPR Museum of Anthropology, History and Art, the UPR General Library, the UPR Student Center in Río Piedras, the Agricultural Sciences Building in Mayagüez, an expansion of the UPR School of Tropical Medicine building in Puerta de Tierra and the UPR Law School building, among others. His public sector work attracted many private commissions, including private residences, churches and commercial buildings. His private design commissions, include the design of the campus and church of the Colegio San Ignacio de Loyola School, the San Ignacio of Loyola Parish, the La Rada Hotel, and the landmark churches Iglesia del Carmen and San Martin de Porres in Cataño. Later in life, his design work concentrated in work for several emerging pharmaceutical firms, including Eli Lilly, Parke-Davis, Baxter, Roche, Searle and Travenol.

In 1968, he established the Klumb Foundation. In 1979, Klumb was elected to the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects. On November 20, 1984, he and his wife Else died in an automobile accident in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Throughout his life, Klumb mentored young Puerto Rican architects as well as talented young architects from the US mainland. These include Sal Salvador Soltero, Segundo Cardona FAIA, Beatriz del Cueto FAIA and George McClintock. Many of Klumb's apprentices as well as a new generation of architects continue to incorporate Klumb's principles of design for the tropics. In 1981, the Colegio de Arquitectos de Puerto Rico (Puerto Rico College of Architects) established THE HENRY KLUMB AWARD, the College's highest honor.

Notable Work

  • 1942: Begins work as architectural planner in Los Angeles.
  • 1944: On February 24, moves to Puerto Rico. Begins working with the Public Works Design Committee. With Stephen Arneson, establishes the ARKLU furniture factory.
  • 1945: Works for the Puerto Rico Housing Authority. Begins private practice; firm known as The Office of Henry Klumb.Takes part in the design competition for the Caribe Hilton.
  • 1946: Designs faculty residences at the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras. Designs the New York Department Store in Santurce.
  • 1948: Designs the San Martín de Porres sanctuary in Bayview, Cataño.
  • 1953: Creates master plan for the Río Piedras and Mayagüez campuses of the University of Puerto Rico.
  • 1957: Begins designs for the Parke, Davis pharmaceutical plant in Carolina.
  • 1968: Establishes the Klumb Foundation.
  • 1979: The American Institute of Architects makes him the first Fellow in Puerto Rico.
  • 1981: The Puerto Rico Architects Association awards him the first Henry Klumb Award. Begins designs for the Ciba-Neigy pharmaceutical plant in New Jersey.
  • 1984: On November 20, dies with his wife Else in a car crash in Hato Rey.