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HANS HOLLEIN
 
 
 
 
  Name   Hans Hollein
       
  Born   March 30, 1934
       
  Died   April 24, 2014
       
  Nationality   Austria
       
  School    
       
  Official website   www.hollein.com/eng
     
 
BIOGRAPHY        
    Hans Hollein is an architect, artist, teacher, exhibition designer,
curator, and a designer of furniture and silverware. After graduat-
ing from the Vienna Art Academy in 1956, he traveled in the
United States on a scholarship and continued his studies at the
Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) in Chicago, receiving a

master of architecture degree from Berkeley in 1960. During
these years he was able to study with Ludwig Mies van der
Rohe, Frank Lloyd Wright, Richard Neutra, and other famous
architects. After working in Australia, South America, Sweden,
and Germany, he returned to Vienna and established a practice
in 1964.

Together with Walter Pichler, Hollein issued a manifesto of
“absolute architecture” in 1963, declaring that “architecture is
not the satisfaction of the needs of the mediocre or the environ-
ment for the petty happiness of the masses. .. . Architecture is
an affair of the elite.” (Burkhardt and Manker, 2002, 35). De-
spite such grand aspirations, Hollein’s first commission in 1965
was rather modest, the design of the Retti Candleshop in the
center of Vienna. Though the project was small, he received the
$25,000 Reynolds Memorial Award and achieved international
fame.

In the 1960s Hollein was a prominent figure in the lively
Viennese scene, which also included Friedrich St. Florian, Rai-
mund Abraham, Coop Himme(|)blau, and the theorist Ginter
Feuerstein. In his two-dimensional collages, Hollein developed
a paper architecture in line with pop art, transforming banal
objects, such as spark plugs or airplane carriers, into architecture
through scale changes and incongruent combinations. Declaring
that everything is architecture, he suggested in 1967 that a
perception-altering drug would also be architecture; in the same
year, Ron Herron of the Archigram announced the same idea
as the “Enviro-Pill.”

In 1970 Hollein won praise for his first commission in New
York, the Richard Feigen Gallery. Other commissions for elite
shops followed, including two jewelry stores for Schullin (1974
and 1982) in Vienna. These designs represent a mannerist ver-

sion of late modern architecture. With the intention of creating
a facade with a strong image, Hollein used marble and chromed
steel in sensuous shapes that carried anthropomorphic, often
sexual, connotations and occasionally contained veiled allusions
to death.

By the mid—1970s Hollein emerged as a leading Postmodern

architect in Europe. The interior he designed for the Austrian
Tourist Office in Vienna (1978, demolished) features all the
crucial aspects of Postmodern architecture, as defined by Charles
Jencks in his seminal book in 1975, in particular the principles
of metaphor and multiple coding. For a layman, the birds hang-
ing from the ceiling would function as a metaphor for airplane
travel, the Rolls-Royce radiator grills of the ticket counters as a
clear sign for money and the peculiar metal palm trees in the
interior as a promise of exotic beaches. A connoisseur, however,
would recognize the palm trees as a reference to John Nash’s
‘Royal Pavilion in Brighton (1815-22), just as he would trace
the origins of a small metal pavilion in the Tourist Office back
to the Mughal pavilions in Fathpur Sikri and the glass ceiling
of the Office to the Postal Savings Bank (1912) in Vienna by
Otto Wagner.

Even more significant an achievement was Hollein’s design
for the Abteiberg Municipal Museum Ménchengladbach, Ger-
many (competition in 1976, completed in 1982). Like the inte-
rior of the Tourist Office, the exterior of the museum is a collage
of classical and Modern styles and building types: a miniature
skyscraper, industrial sheds, a steel bridge, two symmetrical clas-
sical pavilions. Like in James Stirling’s Staatsgalerie in Stuttgart,
the different codes of architecture are not resolved to any syn-

thetic totality but they coexist in tension, underscoring the heter-
ogeneity of contemporary society. In the interior of the museum,
however, the pop attitude to collage and assemblage is no longer
in evidence. Rather, the interiors are designed with modest re-
straint and a sensitive use of light to provide the best possible
exhibition spaces for the works of art.

In Hollein’s Museum of Modern Art in Frankfurt (1983—
91), the gallery spaces are even more precisely determined ac-
cording to the needs of each individual work in the permanent
collection, with the consequence that the museum may be less
ideal to present other works. Because of the tight urban setting,
also the facades are more restrained and less heterogeneous than
in Ménchengladbach.

In 1985, Hollein received the Pritzker Prize, establishing his
reputation as one of the foremost architects in the world. The
same year, he started designing the Haas Haus, a small shopping
center in the most precious location in Vienna, opposite St.
Stephen’s Cathedral. The design is a summary of Hollein’s most
successful designs over the years, a cornucopia of chromed fa-
cades, curved mirror glass, fountains, bridges, staircases, all tied
together by an architectural promenade that recreates the moun-
tain hikes loved by Austrians. In the nineties, Hollein had
achieved the goals of his first manifesto, becoming the architect
of the elite.

Like his fellow Pritzker Prize winner, Frank Gehry, Hollein
has also made designs for spectacular new Guggenheim mu-
seums, one in Vienna and another in Salzburg. Especially the
Salzburg project (1990) could well function in the same way as
Gehry’s Bilbao, as a spectacular mass attraction by a star archi-
tect. The design realizes some of the promises of Hollein’s first
manifesto: though not soaring in the heights, the museum pene-
trates deep into the mountain next to the Salzburg castle, creat-
ing an intriguing multilevel cave. Stylistically, Hollein has not
changed dramatically. More recently, Hollein has reduced the
ornament and began to experiment with complex curved sur-
faces, as in his design for the Austrian embassy in Berlin.

Do&rre KUHLMANN


 
 
 
 
 
 
TIMELINE        
    Born in Vienna, Austria, 30 March 1934. Studied at the Acad-
emy of Fine Arts (Akademie der bildenden Kiinste) in Vienna
under Clemens Holzmeister where he graduated in 1956.
Toured and studied in the United States on a Harkness Fellow-
ship. Graduate studies at the Illinois Institute of Technolo
in Chicago, Master of Architecture degree at the University of
California, Berkeley in 1960. 1978-90 Austrian state commis-
sioner, Architecture Biennale Venice, Italy 1991, 1996 and
2000; director of architecture section, Architecture Biennale
Venice, Italy 1994-1996; curator exhibition “Contemporary
Art, Architecture and Design” Shanghai Art Muscum, 2001.
Visiting professor, Washington University 1963/64 and 1966;
professor, Acadamy of Fine Arts, Diisseldorf, Germany 1967
76; 1976-2002 professor at the University of Applied Arts, Vi-
enna, Austria. Awarded Reynolds Memorial Award 1966, Grand
Austrian State Prize 1983, Pritzker Prize 1985.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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