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» Ludwig Hoffmann


Ludwig Hoffmann, Source: Wikipedia

Ludwig Hoffmann was born on the 30th July 1852 in Darmstadt. He studied together with A. Messel between 1873 and 1874 at the Kassel Academy of Art. Between 1874 and 1879 he continued his studies with a degree in architecture at the Bauakademie (Building and Architecture Academy) in Berlin. Between 1879 and 1884 he worked as a government foreman under Franz Schwechten on the new construction of the former Berlin War Academy, Dorotheenstraße, Berlin.
 
In 1885, working together with the Norwegian Peter Dybwad, Hoffmann won the competition to design the Imperial Courthouse in Leipzig which, aside from the Reichstag in Berlin, was the most important political symbol of the first German unification. In 1896 the building was finished, with its renaissance façade, great hall and high dome. The work was very much admired, the highest building authorities became very interested and even the Kaiser himself wanted Hoffmann as an advisor. In the same year he became the head of the municipal planning and building control office in Berlin, and held this post until 1924. In these 28 years Ludwig Hoffman oversaw the construction of over 150 projects in the city of Berlin, made up of more than 400 individual buildings. These were mostly schools, hospitals, fire stations and public toilets, but he also designed the Märchenbrunnen (fairy-tale fountain), the Märkisches Museum, the city hall, the Baerwaldbad and the bath house in Oderberger Straße. After the death of A Messel he also became involved in the design of the Pergamon Museum on Museum Island.
 
In 1906 Hoffmann was honoured with the title of Privy Councillor for Building and received an honorary doctorate from the technical university of his home town. In the same year he was appointed as an honorary member of the Prussian Academy of Arts.
 
Numerous honours and new tasks followed:
 
1908 Member of the Royal Prussian Academy of Civil Engineering.
 
1911 Professor at the Technical University of Berlin-Charlottenburg, Senator of the Berlin Academy of Arts, member of the Dresden Royal Academy, corresponding member of the Central Union of Austrian Architects.
 
1917 Honorary doctor of the Vienna Technical University, Hessian Gold Medal for Art and Science, honorary member of the Vienna Academy of Arts.
 
1922 Member of the Committee for the Ornamentation of the Reichstag in Berlin.
 
1923 Vice chancellor of the order “Pour le merité for science and art”, honorary member of the Academic Architects Association.
 
When he retired in 1924, Berlin recognised Hoffmann’s contributions to the city by naming him an honorary citizen. In addition to this he was named an honorary member of the Royal Institute of British Architects, a corresponding member of the Argentinean „socieda Central de Arquitectos“, an honorary member of the “Association of Berlin Architects and Engineers” and an honorary member of the “Society of Artists and Sculptors in Berlin”. However, when he died in 1932 Hoffmann barely received an obituary. The modern architects apparently did not want to memorialise their father, and after the war his memory disappeared entirely.
 
Most of Hoffmann’s buildings are in former East Berlin as the biggest working-class districts were in this area. Here he built schools, hospitals, public bath houses and offices in order to create a societal, sanitary and cultural infrastructure. Due to their position in the former GDR many of these buildings were maintained, even if they were run down.
 
Original German text: Klaus Müller
 
Sources und Literature:
Döhl, Dörte (2004), Ludwig Hoffmann. Bauen für Berlin 1896-1924, Tübingen: Wasmuth
Hoffmann, Ludwig (1983), Lebenserinnerungen eines Architekten, hg. von Wolfgang Schäche, Berlin: Gebr. Mann Verlag (Die Bauwerke und Kunstdenkmäler von Berlin 10)

“Märchenbrunnen“ (fairy-tale fountain) in Friedrichshain public gardens


Municipal bath houses


Heinrich Zille School, Berlin-Kreuzberg