Architect Hans Hollein dies aged 80

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Hans Hollein

News: architect and Pritzker Prize laureate Hans Hollein has died in Vienna at the age of 80 after a long illness.

Hollein, a key figure in the Postmodern movement, was born in the Austrian capital in 1934 and studied architecture first at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna and later in the USA at Illinois Institute of Technology and the University of California, Berkeley.

He came to international prominence in 1965 for his Retti Candleshop - a small candle boutique in his home city. This project was followed by a number of other small projects, including the Richard Feigen Gallery in New York.

Later in his career he completed numerous larger buildings including the Austrian Embassy in Berlin and numerous museums, including the Museum für Moderne Kunst in Frankfurt am Main, Germany and the Albertina Museum extension in Vienna.

His early architecture was characterised by layers of simple geometric forms rendered in a luxurious palette of traditional materials, and a willingness to play visual jokes, such as the the inclusion of a grove of metal palms trees in a Vienna travel agency.

The Austrian architect also designed products and furniture, including a tea and coffee service in the form of an aircraft carrier for Alessi, and fifties-influenced furniture for the Memphis group.

Hollein won the Pritzker Prize - the biggest prize in world architecture - in 1985. The jury citation described him as "a master of his profession - one who with wit and eclectic gusto draws upon the traditions of the New World as readily as upon those of the Old."

"An architect who is also an artist, he has the good fortune to design museums that are then eager to place within their walls works of art from his hand, whether in the form of drawings, collages, or sculpture," the citation continued.

"In the design of museums, schools, shops, and public housing, he mingles bold shapes and colors with an exquisite refinement of detail and never fears to bring together the richest of ancient marbles and the latest in plastics."

In a tribute, designer Constantyn Boym tweeted: "Hans Hollein was an inspiration. His exhibition ManTransForms at then-just-opened Cooper-Hewitt made me want to become a designer.”

Architecture curator and writer Aaron Betsky tweeted: "Just heard Hans Hollein passed away.  Witty, tortured, cantankerous, wild, he was the absolute epitome of Austrian Postmodernism.”

Hans Hollein was born on March 30, 1934 and died on April 24, 2014. He is survived by his children Max and Lili.

  • Airborne

    His Abteiberg museum was my introduction in the early 80s to modern architecture. Though I haven’t been back there for nearly 30 years I often recall the fantastic layout and exhibition spaces.