O.M. Ungers, 1926-2007

October 6, 2007

We regret to announce that on September 30, 2007 O.M. Ungers, prominent architect and also former faculty member and Chairman of our architecture department, passed away. Professor Arthur Ovaska has written a brief summary of his many contributions to the world of architecture, from practice to academia, that we would like to share with you.

"Professor Emeritus Dr.-Ing. E.h Dipl.-Ing Oswald Mathias Ungers, architect and former Chairman of the Department of Architecture at Cornell, has died at the age of 81. He died on September 30 as the result of a lung infection, and the news was announced yesterday by his office and family. He was better known to most of us as 'Mathias' or as 'OMU.'  

"Although widely known in Europe as perhaps the most theoretically influential postwar architect in Germany, Ungers's only built work in the United States is the residence of the German Ambassador (1994), at 1800 Foxhall Road, NW, Washington, DC.  

"While his best known built works include the Wallraf Richartz Museum in Cologne, the Kunsthalle in Hamburg, the German Museum of Architecture in Frankfurt, libraries in Karlsruhe and Cologne, the Family Court in Berlin, and the Frankfurt Exposition buildings, he was perhaps more widely and internationally known in academic circles for his theoretical projects and work done in the 1960's in Berlin and the 1970's at Cornell, much of which was exhibited at the New National Gallery in Berlin in the exhibition "Cosmos of Architecture." This exhibit was held last year on the occasion of his 80th birthday. The significance of O.M. Ungers as an educator has been the subject of several recent symposia, and many of his writings have also been recently re-published in the magazine ArchPlus.

"After early and highly prolific professional and academic careers in Cologne and Berlin in the 1950's and 60's, Ungers came to Cornell as a Visiting Critic in 1965 and 1967, and was appointed chair of the Department of Architecture in 1969, a position which he held until 1975. During this time he brought international recognition to Cornell architecture as a center of architectural thought, establishing a new graduate program in architectural design, and sponsoring numerous events that would place Cornell at the epicenter of 'Rationalism' and, eventually, 'Post-Modernism.' He also utilized the academic setting of Cornell to re-formulate and transform his own work and thinking, which would later be realized upon his return to Germany.  

"Ungers' contributions to Cornell, and to the world of architecture while at Cornell, were heroic and inspirational, and he will be fondly remembered as a leader, as a colleague, and as a mentor of exceptionally dynamic nature. Besides the Technical University in Berlin and Cornell University, where he held full-time positions, Ungers also taught for short periods of time at UCLA and Harvard University, and held a professorship at the Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf. Among numerous other awards and prizes, he was honored in 1999 with an Honorary Doctorate from the Technical University of Berlin, and received Medals of Honor from the Republic of Germany in 1997 and the State of Nordrhen-Westfalen in 2006.  

"He is survived by his wife Liselotte Ungers and his daughters Sybille and Sophia, both graduates of Cornell's Department of Fine Arts. Funeral services will be held next Thursday in Cologne."  

I will pass on information regarding condolences as I receive it.  

The address is: Büro Prof. O. M. Ungers  
Belvederestr. 60
50933 Köln, Germany  

The preferred color of flowers is white.

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