Gottfried Böhm, Grasp Architect in Concrete, Dies at 101

2021-06-10 22:37:04

MUNICH — Gottfried Böhm, the Pritzker Prize-winning architect who was recognized for his strikingly sculptural concrete buildings and as a pacesetter of a era of German architects whose process was nothing lower than rebuilding their nation within the wake of World Struggle II, died on Wednesday at his dwelling in Cologne. He was 101.

His son Paul, who can be an architect, confirmed the loss of life.

Mr. Böhm was thought of one among his nation’s main architects lengthy earlier than he received that coveted award, usually thought of the Nobel for structure, in 1986. Like his father, the expressionist architect Dominikus Böhm (1880-1955), he was extremely thought to be a builder of church buildings. His first, accomplished in 1949, was Madonna within the Ruins, a chapel that’s now a part of the Kolumba museum advanced in Cologne, a metropolis whose postwar reconstruction he was notably concerned in.

Mr. Böhm constructed the chapel on the positioning of an early medieval parish church, courting to the yr 980, that was destroyed by Allied bombs in 1943. His design integrated the church’s few surviving components, together with the outside partitions, the northeast pillar of the primary nave and the Fifteenth-century life-size statue of the Virgin Mary that lent the reconsecrated church its title.

A yr later, Mr. Böhm started working for Cologne’s official reconstruction program, which was headed by the famous architect Rudolf Schwarz.

“Mountains of rubble flowered superbly there,” Mr. Böhm stated of postwar Cologne in a 2014 documentary movie, “Concrete Love — The Böhm Household.” “It was a mountain world. It fascinated me.”

Like Madonna within the Ruins, lots of his buildings created a dialogue between previous, usually violently destroyed edifices and trendy designs and supplies.

Through the Pritzker Prize ceremony, in Goldsmiths’ Corridor in London, Prince Richard, the Duke of Gloucester, himself an architect in addition to a member of the British royal household, paid tribute to Mr. Böhm, citing “the arrogance with which he websites his new constructions onto the stays of older constructions, linking the longer term with the previous.”

Arguably the defining work of Mr. Böhm’s profession was the Roman Catholic Pilgrimage Church at Neviges, recognized in German because the Wallfahrtsdom or the Mariendom, near town of Wuppertal in northwest Germany.

Accomplished in 1968, it’s a monumental Brutalist Gesamtkunstwerk or whole of murals, whose jagged concrete roof has been likened to a tent, a crystal and an iceberg. Set on the high of a hill, the church rises imposingly above the picturesque homes of medieval Neviges.

Mr. Böhm lavished as a lot consideration on the church’s forum-like inside as he did on its folding roof and sculptural facade, with their tough concrete textures and sharp angles. He designed the stained-glass home windows, lamps and door handles and even the chairs. With room for 8,000 worshipers, it’s the second largest church north of the Alps.

Assessing the Pilgrimage Church in an appreciation of Mr. Böhm in 1981, the American architect Donald E. Olsen hailed his “potential to dematerialize this large construction of contemporary concrete know-how by the applying of sheer quantity, form and light-modulation.”

Together with Le Corbusier’s proto-Brutalist “La Chapelle Notre-Dame du Haut” (1955), the Pilgrimage is thought to be one of many twentieth century’s most necessary church buildings. It was cited by the Pritzker jury once they awarded Mr. Böhm their prize and stays essentially the most well-known of the greater than 70 church buildings he constructed over his profession.

Gottfried Böhm was born on Jan. 23, 1920, within the river metropolis of Offenbach-am-Primary, close to Frankfurt, the youngest of three sons of Dominikus and Maria Böhm. His paternal grandfather was an architect as properly. As a toddler, Gottfried loved going to his father’s studio and designing home windows and different easy structure particulars.

He was drafted into the Wehrmacht in 1939 and served till being wounded throughout the Russia marketing campaign in 1942 and despatched again to Germany. He not often spoke in regards to the battle, however within the 2014 documentary he recalled a slaughter within the Excessive Tatra Mountains. “My process was to shoot,” he stated. “We have been mountaineers. There was a murderous hail of bullets, and we suffered many losses. Proper subsequent to me. Proper in entrance of me.”

After he was demobilized, he studied structure on the Technical College in Munich, the place he obtained a level in 1946. He spent one other yr learning sculpture at that metropolis’s Academy of Arts, in what he later referred to as an try to distance himself from his father, who thought of Gottfried his successor and whom Gottfried was afraid to disappoint. Though Mr. Böhm ultimately selected the architect’s path, his coaching as a sculptor remained foundational and would inform his most distinctive works.

After Munich, Mr. Böhm returned to Cologne to work in his father’s agency, which he took over after Dominikus’s loss of life in 1955, persevering with a household enterprise that might come to succeed in near-dynastic dimensions.

In 1948 he married Elisabeth Haggenmüller, an architect he had met whereas they have been college students. She assisted her husband on lots of his initiatives, and so they remained married till her loss of life in 2012 in her early 90s. Three of Mr. Böhm’s sons, Stephan, Peter and Paul, all skilled as architects and labored for his or her father’s agency beginning within the Eighties. These days they every function an impartial structure agency below the identical roof, within the Cologne dwelling that was constructed by their grandfather in 1928 and the place Gottfried had grown up and as soon as maintained his workplace. A fourth son, Markus, is a painter. Mr. Böhm can be survived by 5 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

In 1951, Mr. Böhm journeyed to America, the place he labored briefly at a New York structure agency. Throughout a monthslong research tour in the US, he met Walter Gropius and Mies van der Rohe, the Bauhaus masters who turned an important inspiration to him. After returning to Germany he turned a professor on the Technical College of Aachen in 1963 and held that place till 1985.

Mr. Böhm was one among 17 architects to submit proposals for a brand new Pilgrimage Church in Neviges in 1964. The city had been a devotional web site because the late seventeenth century, however the rising numbers of pilgrims after World Struggle II had led the Franciscans, who administered it, to determine to construct a brand new church.

Mr. Böhm’s submission was controversial, each for its daring design and its proposal to situate the church on the web site’s highest level, above the city, to be reached by processional means laid out in keeping with Mr. Böhm’s plans. It however received the favor of Cardinal Josef Frings, the archbishop of Cologne, who headed the jury. One account has it that the cardinal, who was practically blind on the time, preferred the texture of Mr. Böhm’s jagged mannequin when he ran his fingers over it.

Accomplished in 1968, the Mariendom sought to accommodate the hundreds of pilgrims who had flocked to Neviges each weekend within the Fifties. Their numbers started to dwindle after the speedy postwar interval, as Marian devotion turned much less conspicuous within the late twentieth century. Right now the church is arguably extra of a pilgrimage web site for structure buffs than for Catholics. (The unique church nonetheless stands elsewhere on the town.)

One other necessary fee from the identical period was the Metropolis Corridor in Bensberg, near Cologne. Mr. Böhm sited this concrete construction alongside a Twelfth-century hilltop fortress. The angular centerpiece is a tower ringed by spiraling home windows and capped with a blocky, jagged crown.

It was one among quite a few administrative buildings that he designed, along with department shops, pageant halls and housing developments. Such initiatives occupied him more and more after a postwar increase of church development subsided within the Seventies.

Whereas he labored primarily in Germany, he additionally designed buildings and growth initiatives worldwide, together with in Los Angeles, Boston, Tokyo and Turin, Italy.

Glass turned an more and more necessary and versatile materials for Mr. Böhm. In 1995, commissioned by the clothes retailer Peek and Cloppenburg in Berlin, he designed a six-story constructing with a facade of layered glass set inside a metal case. The New York Instances referred to as it “one placing instance of what the brand new Berlin could appear like.” In 2000, he unveiled a gleaming glass pyramid that housed the municipal library within the southern German metropolis of Ulm.

Mr. Böhm continued working properly into his 90s. A later venture of his, from 2006, in collaboration together with his son Paul’s agency, is the Hans-Otto-Theater in Potsdam, near Berlin, whose glass lobby is capped by a fiery purple sculptural crown.

But Mr. Böhm can be remembered primarily for his church buildings, lots of which have been granted landmark standing.

“The concept life isn’t fully gone with loss of life, that there’s something else, is difficult to think about,” he stated within the 2014 documentary, in a scene filmed within the Madonna within the Ruins, the chapel he designed over a half-century earlier.

“Church buildings have one thing of that as properly,” he stated. “You are feeling a relationship with a better, extra distant realm.”

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