Catherine Bauer Wurster

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Catherine Bauer Wurster
Catherine Bauer Wurster.jpg
Catherine Bauer Wurster,
(credit: Library of Congress)
Born (1905-05-11)May 11, 1905
Elizabeth, New Jersey, U.S.
Died November 21, 1964(1964-11-21) (aged 59)
Mount Tamalpais, Marin County, California, U.S.
Spouse(s) William Wilson Wurster
Children One daughter[1]

Catherine Krause Bauer Wurster (May 11, 1905 – November 21, 1964) was a prominent American urban planner and public housing advocate. A leading member of the "housers," a group of planners who advocated affordable housing for low-income families, she dramatically changed social housing practice and law in the United States. Her influential book Modern Housing was published in 1934.

Early life[edit]

Bauer was born in Elizabeth, New Jersey to Alberta Bauer, a self-educated homemaker, and Jacob Bauer, a state highway engineer who implemented the first cloverleaf interchanges in America while serving as New Jersey's Chief Highway Engineer.[2]

After spending one year as an architecture student at Cornell University, she transferred to Vassar College from which she graduated in 1926.

In the late 1920s, Bauer spent time in Paris, where she befriended Fernand Léger, Man Ray, and Sylvia Beach. Back in New York, she worked with American urban critic Lewis Mumford. It was at his urging that she became involved with the architects of change in post-World War I Europe, among them Ernst May, André Lurçat, and Walter Gropius. Convinced that good social housing could produce good social architecture, and moved by the visible ravages of the Depression, she became a passionate leader in the fight for housing for the poor.

She co-authored the Housing Act of 1937 and advised five presidents on urban strategies. Her book, Modern Housing, published in 1934, is regarded as a classic. In 1936 she was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship.

After her marriage to San Francisco area architect William Wurster, whom she met while teaching at UC Berkeley in 1940, both withstood accusations of disloyalty by the Tenney Committee during the Red Scare of the 1950s. Bauer Wurster was also involved in founding the progressive architectural research group Telesis.

She died in a fall during a solo hike on Mount Tamalpais, Marin County, California, on November 21, 1964.[3]

A bust of Catherine Bauer Wurster is located in the Environmental Design Library in Wurster Hall at UC Berkeley. An Oscar Stonorov bust of Wurster adorns the Robert C. Weaver Federal Building's Main (South) lobby.[4][5]


  1. ^ "W.W. Wurster, Architect, Dies," New York Times, September 20, 1973.
  2. ^ Oberlander, H. Peter; Newbrun, Eva (1999). Houser: The Life and Work of Catherine Bauer. Vancouver: UBC Press. p. 358. ISBN 9780774807203. 
  3. ^ "Woman Hiker Dead." Associated Press. November 24, 1964.
  4. ^ Huxtable, Ada Louise "The House That HUD Built," New York Times, September 22, 1968.
  5. ^ "Bust of Late Catherine Bauer Wurster Placed in HUD Building," Journal of Housing, 1968.


  • Bauer, Catherine (1934). Modern Housing. Cambridge: Riverside Press. 
  • Bauer Wurster, Catherine (March 1965). "The Social Front of Modern Architecture in the 1930s". Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 24 (1): 48–52. JSTOR 988280. 

See also[edit]

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