Gunter Behnisch, 1922-2010

International
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
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Günter Behnisch in 2000. (Courtesy Behnisch Architekten)

Word spread yesterday that Dresden-born, Deconstructivist-inspiring architect Günter Behnisch had died. His son’s firm, which had taken on much of his work, sent around the following announcement today. There will be a memorial service tomorrow in Stuttgart, Behnisch’s long-time home.

Professor Günter Behnisch passed away in the early morning hours of July 12th at the age of 88. A good three years ago he retreated from professional life. Since then he has lived, weakened by several strokes, in his home in Stuttgart-Sillenbuch, where his family cared for him.

His practice in Stuttgart-Sillenbuch, which he founded in 1952 (from 1966 onwards called Behnisch & Partner with partners Fritz Auer, Winfried Büxel, Erhard Tränkner and Carlo Weber; later with Winfried Büxel, Manfred Sabatke and Erhard Tränkner) existed until 2008. In the last years of the practice he worked with Manfred Sabatke in the Sillenbuch office.

Günter Behnisch stood for the architectural expression of Germany’s transformation into a democratic, freer, and more social society. As an architect active in the years of Germany’s reconstruction he shaped the appearance of schools and universities. Architectural critics described his buildings and facilities for the 20th Olympic Games in Munich, as well as his buildings for the German Parliament in Bonn, as symbols of the “open democracy” of the “Bonner Republik,” and these buildings found widespread international recognition.

As an educator Günter Behnisch had a decisive influence on several generations of architects. Through their work and their daily practices his teachings will no doubt, in the years ahead, continue to manifest themselves in a decidedly freer approach to architecture. Through a permanent questioning of the architectural uniformity of the, as he once put it, “self-opinionated” Berlin Republic and its particular definition of architecture, he eventually realized, after a time and energy-consuming planning process, his last project, the Academy of the Arts in Berlin, in 2005.

Acknowledging that he would be unable to complete his last successful competition winning entries, Günter Behnisch entrusted his son Stefan with a number of projects—the “Haus im Haus” for Hamburg’s Chamber of Commerce and the Ozeaneum in Stralsund. […Stefan has his own firm, Behnisch Architekten, which had been working in concert with Behnisch & Partner for a number of years. …] During the years of collaboration projects such as the St. Benno Gymnasium in Dresden, the “Museum der Phantasie” for the Buchheim collection in Bernried, the State Insurance Agency Schleswig-Holstein in Lübeck, the service center for the Landesbank Baden-Württemberg in Stuttgart and the office and exhibition building for VS in Tauberbischofsheim were realised.

Today many of the staff employed by Behnisch Architekten were previously either students of Günter Behnisch in Darmstadt, where he was a professor, or they worked with him as interns in his office in Stuttgart-Sillenbuch. Günter Behnisch’s approach to architecture, in particular with respect to his ‘idea of man,’ continue to influence our daily activities.

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