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Hermann Henselmann

(1905—1995)


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(1905–95). German architect and theorist, from 1951 to 1973 perhaps the most influential in the former German Democratic Republic. He was Director of the Hochschule für Baukunst und Bildende Künste (College for Architecture and Fine Arts), Weimar (1945–50), and later was placed in charge of much of the planning of East Berlin (1951–72), in which capacity he was one of the main protagonists in the design of the Stalinallee (later Karl-Marx-Allee) (1949–61). He was responsible for the first example of the so-called ‘National Tradition’ style (a somewhat coarse and stripped-down architecture loosely based on Classicism) required by the Communist authorities: this was the Punkthaus an der Weberwiese, Berlin (1951). He designed the dominant buildings in Berlin's Strausberger Platz (1952–3) and Frankfurter Tor (1955–6), and, as Chief Architect of the Institut für Städtebau und Architektur (Institute for Town Planning and Architecture), he was active (1966–72) in projecting new and dominant buildings that had little relevance to history in devastated cities, yet were attempts to create recognizable structures with definite ‘personalities’ as urban centrepieces. Among his works may be mentioned the first glass- and steel-framed high-rise building in the GDR (the Haus des Lehrers, Berlin (1964)), the Berlin Congress Centre (1964), and the Berliner Fernsehturm (Television-Tower) (1969), all on the Alexanderplatz. Henselmann was also responsible for the University Complex at Leipzig (1969–74), and for the cylindrical multi-storey Research Building at the University of Jena (1969–75). He was not unaware of the importance of historical references: his design for the elliptical Strausberger Platz owed much to Möhring's plans of 1920, and the twin cupolas at the Frankfurter Tor were clearly derived from Gontard's handsome additions to the Gendarmenmarkt (1780–5). Most of Henselmann's realized works from 1949 were dependent upon industrialized building and prefabrication techniques.

From A Dictionary of Architecture and Landscape Architecture in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Architecture.


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