Oswald Mathias Ungers

Oswald Mathias Ungers was born on 12 July 1926 in Kaisersesch. He studied architecture at the Technische Hochschule Karlsruhe from 1947 to 1950 where he graduated with a project at Egon Eiermann’s studio. In 1950 Ungers established his own office in Cologne and realized numerous housing projects and apartment buildings in Cologne and Berlin. From 1963 until 1967, Ungers was a professor at the Technische Universität Berlin, and from 1969 until 1975 he was dean at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. At Cornell, Ungers emphasized the early history and theories of the Modern Movement and the importance of rationalist type-forms in contrast to Colin Rowe’s more wide-ranging and eclectic approach.

In the 1960s and 1970s Ungers took part in numerous competitions, in particular for the student accomodation at TH Twente, Enschede (1964), Tegel Flughafen, Berlin (1966), urban restructuring of Berlin’s Tiergarten quarter (1973), the new building of Wallraf-Richartz museum in Cologne (1975) and the Bremen University complex (1977). In the 1980s he orchestrated the construction of the new exhibition hall on the Frankfurt fairgrounds (1980-84), the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar Research in Bremerhaven (1980-84), the Baden State library in Karlsruhe (1980-91) and the organization of the Architecture Museum in Frankfurt (completed in 1984).

In 1965 Ungers was invited to the Team 10 meeting in Berlin. He published the report of this meeting as a publication of the Technische Universität Berlin. From 1965 onward he was a frequent participant of the meetings. As dean of Cornell he organized a Team 10 seminar in 1971-72 inviting most of the group’s participants to lecture and supervise studio work. Ungers’ early work shared similarities with the New Brutalism and structuralism of the 1950s and 1960s, but in the course of his career he developed a preference for neorationalist principles and a typological approach, quite uncharacteristic of the core of Team 10 thinking. In the latter half of the 1970s, this led to a split between Ungers and Team 10’s inner circle, particularly De Carlo and Van Eyck had trouble with his new direction.
Ungers works and lives in Cologne.