Raimund Abraham

Architect (1933 - 2010)

In 1963, as a leading figure in the Austrian avant-garde of the early 1960s, Raimund Abraham published one of the first projects of the radical movement: Elementare Architektur. His “imaginary cities” (1961-1967), contemporary with the experiments of Hans Hollein and Walter Pichler, made a decisive shift in the meaning of architectural drawing, which became an object per se. The macro-structural and technological forms which he presented through collage, photomontage and drawing explored a semantic and conceptual dimension of architecture, while at the same time serving his quest for a metaphysical space. Based in the United States from 1964 on, Abraham embarked on a teaching career; he continued his graphic work and designed several artistic installations: in them, the architecture was invariably imbued with a dimension that was both psychological and philosophical, but also literary and poetic. His first public building was a house, built in 1985 as part of the International Building Exhibition in Berlin; in that same period he was given the task of producing a group of dwellings for the Traviatagasse in Vienna. His project for a church in Berlin (1982), with its slender, compact shape, can be regarded as a blueprint for the Austrian Cultural Institute in New York City (2002), which is akin, through its narrow façade with its pointed lines, to a gigantic totem pole planted in the heart of Manhattan.

Born in 1933 in Lienz (Tyrol, Austria), Raimund Abraham graduated from the Graz Technical University in 1958 and set up an agency in Vienna in 1959 with Friedrich St. Florian. In 1964, he emigrated to the United States and taught at the Rhode Island School of Design. He settled in New York in 1971 and became a Professor at Cooper Union; he would go on to leach at the Pratt Institute, Yale, Harvard and the Architectural Association. Abraham took part in many international competitions and was awarded numerous prized in his career (2nd prize for a cultural centre in the Congo, 1959; 2nd prize for the Centre Pompidou, 1971; 2nd prize for the Opéra de Paris in 1983; 1st prize from the IBA-Berlin, and 1st prize for the Times Square Tower, 1986). Abraham died in an accident in 2010. He took part in many exhibitions throughout the world and received the Lion of stone in 1985 at the 3rd Architectural Biennale in Venice.

Aurélien Vernant

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