The this we lost Hans Hollein - the Pritzker Prize winning architect who was also an artist known for his wit and eclectic gusto
When Hollein was awarded the Pritzker Prize in 1985, the jury recognised him as ‘an architect who is also an artist … one who with wit and eclectic gusto draws upon the traditions of the New World as readily as upon those of the Old’.
Hollein studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna and then in the US where he met and studied with Richard Neutra, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Frank Lloyd Wright. On his return to Europe in 1964, he founded his own practice, and his first commissions were commercial premises.
Hollein was equally at ease designing large, bombastic buildings, such as the Haas Haus in Vienna (1990) and the Museum fur Moderne Kunst in Frankfurt (1991), and small objects such as jewellery and sunglasses.
A godfather of Postmodernism, Hollein was a visual prankster but a serious thinker. His uncompromising style continues to delight and appal in equal measure. His design for a Guggenheim museum in Salzberg remains unbuilt – a look at the many entries for the Helsinki competition shows how difficult it is to get the approach right.
With the timidity and self-consciousness that prevails in contemporary architecture practice, his influence will be sorely missed.