Gottfried Böhm

Gottfried Böhm (born January 23, 1920) is a German architect and sculptor. His reputation is based on creating highly sculptural buildings made of concrete, steel, and glass. Böhm's first independent building was the Cologne chapel "Madonna in the Rubble" (now integrated into Peter Zumthor's design of the Kolumba museum renovation). Böhm's most influential and recognized building is the Maria, Königin des Friedens or Nevigeser Wallfahrtsdom.

Gottfried Böhm
Gottfried Böhm 2015.jpg
Gottfried Böhm in 2015
Born (1920-01-23) January 23, 1920 (age 100)
AwardsPritzker Prize
BuildingsMaria, Königin des Friedens in Neviges
Bensberg City Hall
Böhm's 1968 Iglesia Youth Center Library, Cologne.
Maria, Königin des Friedens pilgrimage church, Neviges, Germany

The most recently completed construction project involving Böhm is the Hans Otto Theater in Potsdam (2006). In 1986, he became the first German architect to be awarded the prestigious Pritzker Prize.

Life and careerEdit

Böhm was born into a family of architects in Offenbach, Hessen. His father, Dominikus Böhm, was renowned for his numerous avant-guard churches throughout Germany, many in Expressionist style. His grandfather was also an architect. After graduating from Technical University of Munich in 1946, he studied sculpture at a nearby fine-arts academy. Böhm later integrated his clay model making skills acquired during this time at the academy into his design process.[1]

After graduating in 1947, Böhm worked for his father until the latter's death in 1955, and later took over his firm. During this period, he also worked with the "Society for the Reconstruction of Cologne" under Rudolf Schwarz. In 1951, he traveled to New York City and worked for six months in the architectural firm of Cajetan Baumann. While traveling in America he met two of his greatest inspirations, German architects Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Walter Gropius.

In the following decades, Böhm constructed many buildings around Germany, including churches, museums, civic centers, office buildings, homes, and apartments. He has been considered to be both an expressionist and post-Bauhaus architect, but he prefers to define himself as an architect who creates "connections" between the past and the future, between the world of ideas and the physical world, between a building and its urban surroundings. In this vein, Böhm always envisions the color, form, and materials of a building in relationship with its setting. His earlier projects were done mostly in molded concrete, but more recently he has begun using more steel and glass in his buildings due to the technical advancements in both materials. His concern for urban planning is evident in many of his projects, harping back on his emphasis on "connections".

Böhm was married to Elizabeth Haggenmüller, also an architect, until her death in 2012. He met Elizabeth in 1948, while studying in Munich. She assisted him in several of his projects, mainly through interior design.[2] They have four sons, three of whom are now architects.[1] He turned 100 in January 2020.[3]

Notable buildingsEdit

Bensberg City Hall, seen against old castle


  • 1968 - Architecture Prize of German Architects, Münster
  • 1971 - Architecture Prize of the Association of German Architects, Düsseldorf
  • 1974 - Berlin Art Prize of the Academy of Arts, Berlin
  • 1975 - Big BDA award of the Association of German Architects, Bonn
  • 1977 - Honorary Professor F. Villareal National University, Lima, Peru
  • 1982 - Grande Medaille d'Or d'Architecture, L'Académie d'Architecture in Paris, France
  • 1982 - Honorary Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, New York (235 Voigt)
  • 1983 - Honorary Membership / Honorary Member of the American Institute of Architects AIA
  • 1985 - Fritz Schumacher Prize, Hamburg
  • 1985 - Honorary doctorate TU Munich
  • 1985/1986 - Price Cret Chair at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
  • 1986 - Pritzker Architecture Prize, New York City, USA


  1. ^ a b Gottfried Bohm on Architectuul
  2. ^ Hiltrud Kier, Bauten und Projekte in: Kristin Feireiss (Hg.): Elisabeth Böhm: Stadtstrukturen und Bauten, p. 64 (in German)
  3. ^ As Gottfried Böhm Turns 100, an Exhibition Foregrounds His Concrete Religious Architecture

External linksEdit