1. Home
Send to a Friend via Email

Discuss in my forum

Friedrich St.Florian, WWII Memorial Design Architect

Austrian-American, b. 1932

By

Friedrich St.Florian Portrait

Friedrich St.Florian Portrait

Photo by Mannie Garcia/Getty Images ©2004 Getty Images

Widely known for only one work, the National World War II Memorial, Friedrich St.Florian has been called a visionary and theoretical architect for his futuristic drawings. St.Florian's long teaching career places him at the head of the class for mentoring student architects.

Born:

December 21, 1932 in Graz, Austria. Settled in the U.S. in 1967. Naturalized citizen in 1973.

Education:

  • 1958, Technische Universadad in Graz, Austria, Masters Degree in Architecture
  • 1961 - 1962, Fullbright, Columbia University, NY, Master of Science Degree in Architecture
  • 1970 - 1976, Fellowship, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA

Teaching Career:

  • 1962 - 1963, Columbia University
  • 1963 - present (Professor Emeritus), Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), Providence, Rhode Island (RI)

Professional Experience:

Awards and Honors:

  • 1985, Fellow of the American Academy in Rome
  • 2008, Fellow of the American Institute of Architects (FAIA)

Design Philosophy:

St. Florian's approach to design melds the theoretical (philosophical) with the practical (pragmatic). He believes that one must explore the philosophical background, define the problem, and then resolve the problem with a timeless design.

"We approach architectural design as a process that begins with exploration of philosophical underpinnings leading to concept ideas that will be subjected to vigorous testing. To us, how a problem is defined is critical to its resolution. Architectural design is the process of distillation that purifies the confluence of circumstances and ideals. We deal with pragmatic as well as fundamental concerns. In the end, the proposed design solutions are expected to reach beyond utilitarian considerations and stand as an artistic statement of timeless value."

Principal Works (Built):

Designs (Unbuilt):

Theoretical Works:

Theoretical architecture is design and building of the mind—on paper, a verbalization, a rendering, a sketch. These early theoretical works are part of the Museum of Modern Art's (MoMA's) permanent Exhibitions & Collections in New York City:

1966, Vertical City: a 300-story cylindrical city designed to take advantage of sunlight above the clouds—"The regions beyond the clouds were designated for those most in need of light—hospitals, schools, and the elderly—which could be continually provided by solar technology."

1968, New York Birdcage-Imaginary Architecture: spaces that become real and active only when in use; "As in solid, earthbound architecture, each room is a dimensional space, with a floor, a ceiling, and walls, but it has no physical structure; existing only when "drawn" by the moving airplane, it depends entirely upon the airplane's presence and on the pilot's and air-traffic controller's consciousness of designated coordinates."

1974, Himmelbelt: a four-poster bed (a Himmelbelt), set upon a polished stone foundation and beneath a heavenly projection; described as "the juxtaposition between real physical space and the imaginary realm of dreams"

Sources:

  • Elements of the Vertical City by Bevin Cline and Tina di Carlo from The Changing of the Avant-Garde: Visionary Architectural Drawings from the Howard Gilman Collection, Terence Riley, ed., New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2002, p. 68 (online accessed November 26, 2012).
  • Birdcage by Bevin Cline from Envisioning Architecture: Drawings from The Museum of Modern Art, Matilda McQuaid, ed., New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2002, p. 154 (online accessed November 26, 2012).
  • Himmelbelt by Bevin Cline and Tina di Carlo from The Changing of the Avant-Garde: Visionary Architectural Drawings from the Howard Gilman Collection, Terence Riley, ed., New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2002, p. 127 (online accessed November 26, 2012).

Other Sources for this Article: Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) Faculty Profile and Curriculum Vitae (PDF), accessed November 18, 2012; Design philosophy from www.fstflorian.com/philosophy.html, accessed November 26, 2012.

More Theoretical Architects & Architecture:

All design is theoretical until actually built. Every invention used to be a theory, including skyscrapers. Many if not all theoretical architects believe that their projects are viable solutions to problems and can (should) be built.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.