Keywords Change this
Birth date / placeJanuary 23rd 1920, Offenbach, Germany
Practice / Active in Change this
Linked to Change thisRudolf Schwarz
"A building is man's sphere and the bolster for his dignity and its exterior should reflect its contents and function."
Article last edited by roseborn on
August 18th, 2011
Gottfried Böhm Change this
born 1920, Offenbach
About Change this
Gottfried Böhm (born January 23rd, 1920)is a contemporary German architect and the only German Pritzker Prize laureate. He was born into a family of architects in Offenbach, Germany. His father, Dominikus Böhm, is renowned for having built several churches throughout Germany.
His academic career began in 1942, when he attended the Technische Hochschule in Munich where he received his degree in 1946. For another year, he continued his education, studying sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich. That training has been important for the clay models he develops during the design process of his buildings.
He worked in his father's office as an assistant architect from 1947 to 1950. During that time he collaborated with the Society for the Reconstruction of Cologne under the direction of Rudolph Schwarz. In 1948, he met and married Elisabeth Haggenmueller, who is also a licensed engineer and architect. They have four sons, three of whom have become architects.
Feeling the need for other points of view, in 1951, Böhm journeyed to New York where he worked in the architectural firm of Cajetan Baumann for six months. Several more months were spent on a study tour of the United States, during which time he had the opportunity to meet Mies van der Rohe and Walter Gropius, two of the architects for whom he holds great admiration.
His study tour over, Böhm returned to work with his father in 1952. His father's influence plus the ideas and theories of the Bauhaus, were apparent in his first independent projects. Nevertheless, his multiple skills enabled him to overcome this phase quickly. He did not discover a different style; what he discovered was a clear conviction of the importance of every single architectural assignment, no matter how small, and he learned that, along with the factors of time and place, man is the most important value to be taken into consideration.
When his father died in 1955, Böhm took over the family firm. In the following three decades he has accomplished many buildings, including churches, museums, theatres, cultural and civic centers, city halls, office buildings, public housing, and apartment buildings, many of the latter with mixed use. The Bensberg City Hall, as well as the restaurant he designed at Bad Kreuznach, both built on historic ruins, illustrate his creativity in joining the old with the new.
Some of the connections Böhm refers to are also between private and public or semi-public spaces, new uses for deserted urban areas, and the analyzing of a design problem as both a boundary and a link. One of his projects, the Zueblin Corporate Headquarters in Stuttgart, straddling two newly incorporated townships, embodies these connections.
Gottfried Böhm has been considered to be both an expressionist and post-Bauhaus architect, but he prefers to be seen as somebody who is able to create connections between the past and the future, between the world of ideas and the physical world, between a building and its urban surroundings. His artistic approach emphasizes the sculptural aspects of architecture, both on a large scale and in details. His buildings are always extremely personal, transcendent, original, and thereby singular solutions.