Abraham and St. Florian: L’ARCHITETTURA SPERIMENTALE: R. J. ABRAHAM, F. ST. FLORIAN. Roma: Instituto nazionale di architettura, 1967.

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L’ARCHITETTURA SPERIMENTALE:
R. J. ABRAHAM, F. ST. FLORIAN

Albert Bush-Brown [introduction]

Albert Bush-Brown [introduction]: L’ARCHITETTURA SPERIMENTALE: R. J. ABRAHAM, F. ST. FLORIAN. Roma: Instituto nazionale di architettura,  1967. Original edition.  Text and captions in English; title in Italian. Slim square quarto. 24 pp. 2 folded tables with 13 black and white images, 42 illustrations in black and white with photographic images, photomontages, drawings and projects by Raimund Abraham and Friedrich St. Florian. An Ex- University Library copy seven-hole lanced and taped into a Demco Pamphlet Binder. Two unobtrusive Institution stamps to text margins, otherwise interior unmarked and clean. A clean copy of this rare exhibition catalog.

9 x 9 [23 cm] ex University Library catalog for the exhibition "Experimental architecture", held in Rome, March 13, 1967, at the National Institute of Architecture. Includes montages by John Silverio and an introduction by Albert Bush-Brown.

Throughout a 40-year career, Raimund Johann Abraham (Austria, 1933 1  – 2010) created visionary projects and built works of architecture, in Europe and the United States.   From 1952-1958, Abraham studied at the Technical University of Graz, and in 1959, he established a studio in Vienna, where he explored the depths and boundaries of architecture through building, drawing, and montage.   Abraham's first book, the 1965 publication “Elementare Architektur” was made at a time of transition between architecture studies and practice.   In this early volume on elemental structures, Abraham explores the built environment, absent aesthetic speculation, and determinations about design instead coming from the relative level of knowledge and also the desires of the builder. In 1964, Abraham emigrated to the United States.

Abraham was an influential architect in his native Austria and the New York avant-garde. Abraham's poetic architectural vision was influenced by the Viennese tradition to align architecture with sculpture, and also by the Austrian physicist and philosopher Ernst Mach. Abraham theorized architecture on a collision course with the needs of humans, yet striving for coexistence, in a constant state of creative tension.  Beginning in the late 1950s, his enigmatic architecture placed Abraham among the avant-garde, such as Hans Hollein, Walter Pichler and Günther Domenig. In 1958, Abraham collaborated with Friedrich St. Florian, placing 3rd in an international competition to design the Pan Arabian University of Saudi Arabia, and in 1959, placing 2nd, for the design of the Democratic Republic of the Congo Cultural Center in Léopoldville.  Abraham criticized mainstream architecture's preoccupation with style, it's indifference to history, and the rigid definition of Modernism at that time.  Abraham went on to influence generations of professional architects through architectural drawings, projects, and teaching.

A self-described incurable formalist, Abraham's notable built architecture includes House Dellacher (1963–67), in the Oberwart District of Burgenland, Austria, and a Public Housing Complex, (1968–69) and Experimental Kindergarten (1969-70) in Providence, Rhode Island. In 1973, Abraham was awarded the commission for Rainbow Plaza in Niagara Falls, New York, which he co-designed with Giuliano Fiorenzoli. That same year, Abraham was asked to transform the New Essex Market Courthouse building, located at 32 Second Avenue, New York City, for reuse as the Anthology Film Archives (1980–89), with collaborator-architects Kevin Bone and Joseph Levin.

In the mid-1980s, Abraham won the architecture competition to build a mixed-use residential and commercial complex, IBABERLIN, in Friedrichstraße 32-33 (1985–88), a major street in central Berlin, which forms the core of the Friedrichstadt neighborhood. The area was originally constructed to extend the city center, during the first half of the 18th century, in the Baroque style, and after significant damage during World War II, and then partly rebuilt before the division of the Berlin Wall. Abraham explained the work as a tribute to "a city of memories, hope and despair. A City mutilated and fragmented by war, offended through reconstruction and isolated by political manipulations. Historical fragments remain, monuments of the past, elements for a new architectural beginning. New elements are suggested. First independent, then connected to form a dialectical topography of urban Architecture."

Abraham contributed the design for Traviatagasse (1987-1991), in Vienna, with Carl Pruscha. Other buildings designed by Abraham include Residential/Commercial Building (1990–93), in Graz, Austria; House Bernard (1985), Hypo-Bank and Hypo-House (1993–96), situated in the historic center of the small town of Tyrol, in Lienz, Austria. In later years, Abraham designed his own home in Mazunte, Mexico.

Among Abraham's many well known hypothetical projects is Seven Gates to Eden, a bold hand-drawn analysis of the suburban house, exhibited in the 1976 Venice Biennale, curated by Francesco Dal Co, and included in a 1981 show at the Yale School of Architecture, entitled Collisions, curated by New York architect George Ranalli. Abraham's City Of Twofold Vision, Cannaregio West, (1978–80), is sited in Cannaregio, the northernmost of the six historic districts of the historic city of Venice, Italy.  Abraham also designed the Les Halles Redevelopment project (1980) for Paris, France, and Interior (2001), and his design for The New Acropolis Museum (2002) in Athens, Greece articulates new ideas about the contextualization of monuments. In 2002, Abraham contributed a poetic artistic response to New York's World Trade Center attack on September 11, 2001. Abraham's proposal is a poignant symbol to regain footing while envisioning a new future architecture for the City of New York.

Perhaps Abraham's best known work of architecture is the Austrian Cultural Forum New York (1993-02), at 11 East 52nd Street; a building ingeniously arranged onto a site only 25 feet wide. Architectural historian Kenneth Frampton as recognized the Austrian Cultural Forum as “the most significant modern piece of architecture to be realized in Manhattan since the Seagram Building and Guggenheim Museum in 1959.”  Another notable project, Musikerhaus or House for Musicians (1999), in Hombroich, near to Düsseldorf, Germany. The built atop a former NATO missile base. Abraham adapted the site for reuse as an artists’ residence and exhibition gallery. Abraham's Musikerhaus was completed posthumously, under the supervision of Abraham's daughter Una, in 2013. In 2015, The German Architecture Museum (DAM) identified Abraham's Musikerhaus as a significant new building constructed in Germany.

Abraham was awarded a Stone Lion (1985), at the 3rd International Architecture Exhibition for "Progetto Venezia," an international competition sponsored by the Venice Biennale, under the directorship of Aldo Rossi. He also earned the Grand Prize of Architecture (1995), and Gold Medal of Honor (2005) for meritorious service to the Province of Vienna.

In 2011, Abraham was part of the ensemble cast in the film "Sleepless nights stories," which included Marina Abramovic, Thomas Boujut, Louise Bourgeois, Simon Bryant, Phong Bui, Pip Chodorov, Louis Garrel, Björk Gudmundsdottir, Flo Jacobs, Ken Jacobs, Harmony Korine, Lefty Korine, Rachel Korine-Simon, Kris Kucinskas, Hopi Lebel, Jean-Jacques Lebel, Diane Lewis, Jonas Lozoraitis, Adolfas Mekas, Oona Mekas, Sebastian Mekas, DoDo Jin Ming, Dalius Naujokaitis, Benn Northover, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Yoko Ono, Nathalie Provosty, Carolee Schneeman, Patti Smith, and Lee Stringer.  The 2015 premiere of Scenes from the Life of Raimund Abraham (2013), by film diarist Jonas Menkas, is a cinéma vérité style documentary that carries its subject, visionary architect Raimund Abraham, into the future.

Abraham is known for creating visionary architectural hand-drawings.   Throughout his career, he asserted the autonomous, fundamental value of a drawing as a manifestation of architecture.   Abraham stated, “The drawing is one of the tools we have available for the realization of an architectural idea.” To Abraham, drawing was as much the work of the architect as building. Critics describe Abraham’s drawings as architectural poetry on paper.    Many of his visionary drawings have been exhibited as art.

During the 1960s and 70s, Abraham's interest in the typology of the house inspired masterful, visually compelling, imaginative architectural drawings, accompanied by evocative titles and texts, such as Earth-Cloud House, project (1970), The House with Curtains Project, Perspective (1972), The House Without Rooms, project, elevation and plan (1974), and The Cosmology of The House (1974), to explore human dwellings, the ritual of habitation, and the subjectivity of spatial conditions, especially interiority. Abraham's shadowy visions, such as Radar Cities, Terza Mostra d' Architettura, (1985), and Metropolitan Core (2010) propose thoughtful architectural prototypes. Glacier City (1964) is an invisible city, between walls, on either side of a wide valley. These works are prescient meditations on architectural scale, not only based upon the scale of the human body, but also inclusive of multi-sensory perception, media, and imagination.

Abraham explained the inspiration for Nine Projects for Venice (1979–80): "the absence of the mechanical scale of land-bound transportation, Venice, as no other City, has been able to retain a physiological morphology which has consistently reversed all known spatial principles of Cartesian origins." Abraham populates the city of Venice with architectural inventions, such as Wall of Lost Journeys, House For Boats, Square of Solitude, and Tower of Wisdom. Abraham's drawn architecture is symbolic of the mythology for collisions and the potential of architectural expression.

Abraham explained his role as an educator as follows: “Teaching forces me to engage in a critical dialogue with somebody else, and find a level of objectivity that allows me to have a fair critical argument. My role as a teacher is simply to clarify, although that’s a bit simplistic. When I give a problem to the students, it’s my problem; I am trying to anticipate how I could solve that problem. And my joy is when the students come up with a solution I haven’t thought of.”

After arriving in the United States in the mid-1960s, Abraham taught at Rhode Island School of Design, in Providence, Rhode Island, and then for 31-years, he was a professor of architecture at the Cooper Union School of Art and Architecture, New York, N.Y., and adjunct faculty member at Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York. Abraham was also variously a visiting professor in architecture design at the Open Atelier of Design and Architecture (OADA) in New York City; Hines College of Architecture at the University of Houston, Texas; Yale School of Architecture and Environmental Studies; Harvard Graduate School of Design; Architectural Association School of Architecture, London; Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc), Los Angeles, California; Technical Universities, Graz; and University of Strasbourg.

Friedrich St. Florian (Austria, 1932 – ) is an Austrian-American architect who moved to the USA in 1961, and became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1973. His generation produced a famous group of Austrian avant-garde architects: Hans Hollein, Walter Pichler, Raimund Abraham. Abraham was also a classmate of St. Florian and has worked with him on multiple occasions.

St. Florian studied Architecture at the Graz University of Technology, where he graduated in 1960. He then won a Fulbright Fellowship which allowed him to move to the USA and study at Columbia University where he earned an additional MS.

After teaching at Columbia University for one year, St. Florian joined the Rhode Island School of Design faculty in 1963, where he helped launch the school’s renowned European Honors Program in Rome, which he directed from 1965-67. From 1978-88 he was dean of Architectural Studies and acted as Provost for Academic Affairs from 1981-84.

He has also taught at the Architectural Association School of Architecture, London, England; the M.I.T, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA; McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada; the University of Texas at Austin in Austin, Texas, USA and the University of Utah.

He has been a practicing architect in the United States since 1974. His work is included in numerous private collections as well as in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, the M.I.T, the RISD Museum and the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France. He also won the second prize for his design (with Raimund Abraham and John Thornley) for the last of these.

With Abraham he also won the first prize (ex aequo) in the international architectural design competition for the "Cultural Center" in Leopoldville, Congo in 1959 which was not built and the third prize in the 1958 competition for the Pan Arabian University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

He served as Project Architect for Providence Place, a 450 million-dollar regional retail and entertainment center located in historic downtown Providence, Rhode Island and the largest construction project ever undertaken in Rhode Island, and the Providence Skybridge, which frames the entrance to the city. His most prestigious project as of 2004 is probably the design of the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., U.S., which he won against 400 entries in 1997.

St. Florian's office is currently headquartered in downtown Providence RI.  He continues to work on international design competitions and a wide array of projects. Recent built works include a modernist residence in Providence's East Side and Urban Markers in Charlotte, NC. The project named "Three Pier Bridge" was designed under a new firm name "Studio Providence LLC", which is a collaboration between St. Florian's firm and 3SIX0 Architecture. The "Three Pier Bridge" tied for first place in an international competition while also winning prizes from the BSA and AIA. He is inspired by Louis Kahn, Mies van der Rohe, le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright. "Mies van der Rohe held the Chair of the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago when I visited him. I felt like a pilgrim. His office was wide open, there were no doors. He was very curious to get news from Austria."

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