Described by Richard Meier as an architect whose "groundbreaking ideas" have "had a major impact on the thinking of designers and architects," Austrian artist, architect, designer, theoretician and Pritzker Prize laureate Hans Hollein worked in all aspects of design, from architecture to furniture, jewelry, glasses, lamps—even door handles. Known in particular for his museum designs, from the Abteiberg Museum in Mönchengladbach to the Museum of Modern Art in Frankfurt to Vienna's Modernism.
In 2009 Interview, Hans Hollein Reflects on His Career and How the Pritzker Changed His Architecture
This previously unpublished interview with Hans Hollein was conducted in July 2009 by Sanam Samanian (in collaboration with Parisa Kohbodi); Hollein passed away in 2014.
It was 2009, my first time in Vienna and I felt at home—as if I knew the city, its elegant architecture and its profound understanding of life. Vienna is quiet. It doesn’t make any noise about itself or ask for validation from the world; and when I walked into the studio of Hans Hollein it became clear that neither does he.
A a recent graduate of architecture school, I was trying to make it as a writer in the industry. With a bright friend, colleague and then-student from Waterloo University, we hopped on trains and traveled from country to country. In retrospect, I was probably looking for conversations with those I respected. I was looking to understand how they started their careers and what they were exploring. And I had no idea then that this may be the last interview with Mr. Hans Hollein, the man responsible for some of architecture history's key postmodern buildings: the Austrian Embassy Building in Berlin, the Glass and Ceramics house in Tehran, and the Retti Candle Shop in Vienna. His Pritzker Prize was given to him before I was born, yet he began answering my questions as if I were an old friend.
Sanam Samanian: The Pritzker focuses on humanity in architecture; has the award changed anything in your architecture since receiving it?
Watch Bucky Fuller Debate Hans Hollein at Storefront For Art and Architecture's "Closed Worlds" Conference
On Saturday, February 27th, Storefront for Art and Architecture and The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture of The Cooper Union will jointly present a public conference, Closed World: Encounters That Never Happened. Presenters and discussants will engage in debate and discussion and the history and future of closed systems in architecture and design.
The format of this conference invites participants to impersonate a historical figures who have been major contributors to the discourse of closed systems. Figures include Reyner Banham, Buckminster Fuller, Hans Hollein, Neil Armstrong, Jacques Cousteau, and Walt Disney, among others.
Austrian artist, architect, designer, theoretician and Pritzker Prize laureate Hans Hollein has passed away twenty five days after he celebrated his eightieth birthday. Hollein, particularly known for his museum design, including Vienna’s Haas House (1990) and Frankfurt's Museum of Modern Art, was once described by Richard Meier as an architect whose "groundbreaking ideas” have “had a major impact on the thinking of designers and architects."
If you are a fan of Hans Hollein then we have the book for you. Edited by Peter Weibel, this large format book gives you a vivid and detailed look at the 1985 Pritzker Prize recipient’s work. Hollein, an Austrian trained architect, did everything from architecture to design and art. Hollein said, “architects have to stop thinking in terms of buildings only.” The book describes Hollein as the universal artist who “has transposed the machine-based architecture and art of modernity into the era of media-based communication and information technology.” The large photographs featured in this publication make for a great for a coffee table book, and yet the depth and breadth of his work can spur much more interesting conversation than the average coffee table book.