Design Icon: 8 Buildings by Hans Hollein

The late, Pritzker-winning Viennese architect was a key proponent of postmodernism.

Multidisciplinary is a tag thrown around quite often in the design and architecture world, but for Hans Hollein, a restless thinker and theorist, the concept was second nature. "Everything is architecture," said the architect, professor, writer and designer, whose work, especially with museums, earned him a Pritzker Prize in 1985.

Abteiberg Museum (1982)

Mönchengladbach, Germany

Hollein’s design for this edgy contemporary art museum integrated angular structures amidst the cathedral and abbey of a quaint baroque village in West Germany, and managed to make it a striking yet seamless part of the landscape. The array of spaces, shapes, and designs was meant to present diverse means of presentation, yet stand on its own as a work of art.

Hollein made a formative trip across the U.S. in the ‘50s and ‘60s, studying at Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago and the University of California, Berkeley, and meeting architects he admired, such as Mies van der Rohe and Philip Johnson. But as the obscure nature of a road trip to see all seven towns named Vienna in the United States suggests, his heart was in Austria, the city where he practiced, and—over decades of creation and construction—helped shape the cultural landscape.

MMK Museum of Modern Art (1991)

Frankfurt, Germany

Known as a Das Tortenstück ("piece of cake"), a reference to the shape and not the process of creation, the museum showcases a collection of modern and Pop art. A series of glass-vaulted halls permit an abundance of natural light to enter the building and illuminate the artwork.

Two exhibitions, including Hans Hollein: Everything is Architecture, now at Museum Abteiberg, which he designed, and HOLLEIN, opening in June at MAK in Vienna, allow art and architecture fans to explore his legacy. Here, we present some of Hollein's most famous works.

Haas Haus (1987)

Vienna, Austria

A brilliant green granite and glass creation that had an abrupt debut, considering its location in the city’s St. Stephens Square, the Hass House actually had a historic pedigree (the outside mirrors the corner of an old Roman fortification). While Hollein was initially criticized—"I get anonymous letters saying I should jump off the top of the Haas Haus," he said in an interview—the building has since been recognized for introducing a modern aesthetic to Vienna's downtown.

Retti Candle Shop (1965)

Vienna, Austria

Hollein’s dramatic design for a simple candle store won him the $25,000 Reynolds Memorial Award, a purse that actually was more than the cost of the building.

Museum of Glass and Ceramics (1978)

Tehran, Iran

Hollein retrofitted a private residence-turned-embassy in Tehran and turned it into a luxurious showplace for art and craftsmanship that blended Eastern and Western styles, including elegant wooden staircases and stucco mouldings.

Vulcania Museum (2002)

Auvergne, France

More fun than it may sound, the volcano amusement park, designed by Hollein, features a metaphorical volcano (pictured above), lined in steel, dark stone, and gold, that provides a colorful symbol of geo-thermic power.

Saturn Tower (2004)

Vienna, Austria

This 21-story structure, interspersed with cut forms and antilevered parts, provides a plethora of views and canopies with which to gaze upon Vienna. It’s a carefully sculpted and controlled piece of glass and steel.

Interbank Headquarters (2001)

Lima, Peru

An architectural centerpiece of Lima, this banner-shaped edifice presents a striking symbol of progress at the intersection of two highways. At night, the neon lighting illuminates the titanium mesh exterior.

Architect Hans Hollein (1934-2014)

Austrian Culture Minister Josef Ostermayer described Hollein as "a master architect, inspiring teacher (and) visionary."


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