He was Walter Gropius’s right-hand man, his number 1 planner and a close confidant: Adolf Meyer. In 1910 they jointly created the Fagus Factory, one of the most important buildings of modern architecture and ground-breaking for everything to come. And yet: Meyer spent his life in the shadow of Gropius.
Between 1895 and 1897, Adolf Meyer completed a two-year apprenticeship with a cabinetmaker in Mechernich in the Eifel region. He also received instruction in drawing. He then worked in furniture workshops in Cologne, Krefeld and Düsseldorf until 1901. From 1903, he attended the Kunstgewerbeschule (school of applied arts) in Cologne. From 1904, he studied at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Düsseldorf under Peter Behrens and Johannes Ludovicus Mattheus Lauweriks. In 1907, Behrens hired his former student to work in his studio in Berlin. Between 1909 and 1910, Meyer worked for Bruno Paul. The same year, Walter Gropius hired him as the office manager at his studio in Neubabelsberg. This collaboration, which lasted until 1914, resulted in a number of important 20th century buildings, such as the Fagus-Werk Karl Benscheidt in Alfeld an der Leine of 1910 and an office building and factory for the Deutscher Werkbund (German Work Federation) exhibition in Cologne in1914. When Gropius’s practice closed down, Meyer became office manager for the steel construction company Breest & Co. in Berlin.
In 1919, Walter Gropius brought Adolf Meyer to the Staatliches Bauhaus Weimar as an assistant for the architecture department. Here, he directed Gropius’s private architecture office and taught technical drawing and construction from 1920 to 1925. Together with Walter March, he was the site manager for the Haus Am Horn project. In 1924, he was responsible for the compilation and typographic development of the book Ein Versuchshaus (a prototype house), published by the Bauhaus Weimar as the third volume in the series of Bauhaus Books.
After the closure of the Bauhaus Weimar on 1st April 1925, Meyer stayed on in Weimar as a freelance architect. In 1926, he was represented in the exhibition Neue Baukunst (new architecture) held by the Kunstverein Jena (Jena art association). He also designed a number of buildings. These include the Gildehall housing estate in Neuruppin in 1925–1926 and the Zeiss Planetarium in Jena in 1925. On the recommendation of Walter Gropius, Meyer was appointed to the Board of Public Works in Frankfurt am Main in 1926 and was head of construction consulting in its building department. At the same time, he was head of structural engineering at the Frankfurter Kunstschule (art academy). During his period in office, the city built the coking plant at Gaswerk Ost (gasworks east) in 1927 and the Prüfamt (testing office) in 1929 as well as the workshops, depot and warehouse for the municipal electricity works.
Jaeggi, Annemarie (1994): Adolf Meyer. Der zweite Mann: Ein Architekt im Schatten von Walter Gropius, Berlin.