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Francesc Berenguer

Gaudí's right hand man

Casa Museu Gaudí

Francesc Berenguer (1866–1914) never received his diploma, but left architecture school at age 21 to marry and to work for Gaudí (a fellow citizen of Reus), becoming his most diligent assistant, his draughtsman and foreman—all in all, the one who really got things done and translated inspiration into bricks and mortar.

He was also a Modernista architect of distinction in his own right, although a complete account of his contributions to Gaudí’s masterpieces may never be known. With seven children to support, he took any work he could, designing private and public buildings, especially in Gràcia, although because he had no diploma most of his work was signed in the records by others. He even designed the house Gaudí bought for himself, now a museum in the Park Güell.

There are seven of his apartment buildings on Carrer Gran de Gràcia alone, Nos.13, 15, 50, 61, 77 (one of his best), 196 and 237. When he died at the age of 48, Gaudí mourned that he had lost ‘his own right arm’ and he didn’t seem to be exaggerating: he spent his last 12 years on the Sagrada Família and built relatively little of that, without Berenguer to prod him along.

Text © Dana Facaros and Michael Pauls

Image by Teresa "Kitty" Elsmore