The Info List - Frei Otto

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Frei Paul Otto (German: [ˈfʁaɪ ˈɔtoː]; 31 May 1925 – 9 March 2015) was a German architect and structural engineer noted for his use of lightweight structures, in particular tensile and membrane structures, including the roof of the Olympic Stadium in Munich for the 1972 Summer Olympics. Otto won the RIBA
Royal Gold Medal
Royal Gold Medal
in 2006 and was awarded the Pritzker Architecture Prize
Pritzker Architecture Prize
in 2015, shortly before his death.


1 Early life 2 Career 3 List of buildings 4 Awards (selected) 5 See also 6 References 7 Further reading 8 External links

Early life[edit] Otto was born in Siegmar, Germany, and grew up in Berlin. He studied architecture in Berlin
before being drafted into the Luftwaffe
as a fighter pilot in the last years of World War II. He was interned in a POW camp
POW camp
near Chartres
and with his aviation engineering training and lack of material and an urgent need for housing, began experimenting with tents for shelter.[1] After the war he studied briefly in the US and visited Erich Mendelsohn, Mies van der Rohe, Richard Neutra, and Frank Lloyd Wright. Career[edit]

1972 Munich Olympic Stadium

Interior view, West Germany
Pavilion, Expo 67, Montreal

Multihalle in Mannheim

He began a private practice in Germany
in 1952. His saddle-shaped cable-net music pavilion at the Bundesgartenschau (Federal Garden Exposition) in Cassel brought him his first significant attention. He earned a doctorate in tensioned constructions in 1954.[1] Otto specialised in lightweight tensile and membrane structures, and pioneered advances in structural mathematics and civil engineering.[1] He founded the Institute for Lightweight Structures at the University of Stuttgart
in 1964 and headed the institute until his retirement as university professor.[1] Major works include the West German Pavilion at the Montreal
Expo in 1967 and the roof of the 1972 Munich Olympic Arena. He has lectured worldwide and taught at the Architectural Association School of Architecture, where he also designed some of the research facilities buildings of the school's forest campus in Hooke Park. [2] Until his death, Otto remained active as an architect and engineer, and as consultant to his protégé Mahmoud Bodo Rasch
Mahmoud Bodo Rasch
for a number of projects in the Middle East. One of his more recent projects was his work with Shigeru Ban
Shigeru Ban
on the Japanese Pavilion at Expo 2000
Expo 2000
with a roof structure made entirely of paper, and together with SL Rasch GmbH Special
and Lightweight Structures he designed a convertible roof for the Venezuelan Pavilion.[2] In an effort to memorialise the September 11 attacks and its victims as early as 2002, Otto envisioned the two footprints of the World Trade Center buildings covered with water and surrounded by trees; his plan includes a world map embedded in the park with countries at war marked with lights and a continuously updated board announcing the number of people killed in war from 11 September 2001, onward.[3] Otto died on 9 March 2015; he was to be publicly announced as the winner of the 2015 Pritzker Prize
Pritzker Prize
on 23 March but his death meant the committee announced his award on 10 March.[4][5] Otto himself had been told earlier that he had won the prize by the executive director of the Pritzker Prize, Martha Thorne. He was reported to have said, "I’ve never done anything to gain this prize. Prize winning is not the goal of my life. I try to help poor people, but what shall I say here — I'm very happy."[5] List of buildings[edit] This is a partial list of buildings designed by Otto:[5]

1967 – West Germany
Pavilion at Expo 67
Expo 67
Montreal 1972 – Roof for Olympic Stadium, Munich 1975 – Multihalle, Mannheim 1977 – Umbrellas for 1977 Pink Floyd tour 1980 – Aviary at Munich Zoo 1985 – Tuwaiq Palace, Saudi Arabia, with Buro Happold 2000 – Roof structure of the Japanese Pavilion at Expo 2000, Hanover Germany
(provided engineering assistance with Buro Happold
Buro Happold
and architectural collaboration with Shigeru Ban)

Awards (selected)[edit]

1974 – Thomas Jefferson Medal in Architecture[6] 1980 – Honorary doctorate of science from the University of Bath[7] 1996/97 – Wolf Prize in Architecture[7] 2005 – Royal Gold Medal
Royal Gold Medal
for architecture by RIBA[8] 2006 – Praemium Imperiale
Praemium Imperiale
in Architecture[2] 2015 – Pritzker Architecture

See also[edit]



^ a b c d "Biography: Frei Otto". The Hyatt Foundation. Retrieved 11 March 2015.  ^ a b c "Frei Otto". Praemium Imperiale. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 11 March 2015.  ^ Fong, Mei (11 January 2002). "From Parks to Twisted Towers, Designs for a Memorial Multiply". Wall Street Journal.  ^ a b "Frei Otto, 2015 Laureate". Pritzker Architecture
Prize. 10 March 2015. Retrieved 11 March 2015.  ^ a b c d Pritzker Prize
Pritzker Prize
for Frei Otto, German Architect, Announced After His Death, Robin Pogrebin, The New York Times, 10 March 2015 ^ Cramer, James P.; Yankopolus, Jennifer Evans (2005). Almanac of Architecture
& Design 2006. Greenway Communications,. p. 720. ISBN 9780975565421.  ^ a b Barnes, Michael; DIckson, Michael (1 November 2000). Widespan Roof Structures. ICE Publishing. p. 19. ISBN 978-0727728777.  ^ The man with the golden pen, Building.co.uk, 2005 issue 08

Further reading[edit]

Conrad Roland: Frei Otto
Frei Otto
– Spannweiten. Ideen und Versuche zum Leichtbau. Ein Werkstattbericht von Conrad Roland. Ullstein, Berlin, Frankfurt/Main und Wien 1965. Winfried Nerdinger (Hrsg.): Frei Otto. Complete Works. Lightweight Construction – Natural Design. Birkhäuser Verlag für Architektur, Basel, Boston, Berlin, Architekturmuseum der Technischen Universität München 2005, ISBN 978-3-7643-7231-6 Frei Otto, Bodo Rasch: Finding Form: Towards an Architecture
of the Minimal, 1996, ISBN 3930698668 Philip Drew, "Frei Otto; Form and Structure", 1976, ISBN 0258970537, ISBN 978-0258970539 Philip Drew, "Tensile Architecture", 1979, ISBN 025897012X, ISBN 978-0258970126

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Frei Otto.

Frei Otto
Frei Otto
at the archINFORM database Frei Otto's official website Frei Otto: Spanning The Future Documentary film's official Website Japan Pavilion Expo 2000
Expo 2000
– About the roof structure SL Rasch GmbH Homepage Last recorded interview with Frei Otto, about his life and receiving the Pritzker Prize Uncube Nr. 33 Frei Otto
Frei Otto
– by uncube magazine

v t e

Pritzker Architecture Prize
Pritzker Architecture Prize

Philip Johnson
Philip Johnson
(1979) Luis Barragán
Luis Barragán
(1980) James Stirling (1981) Kevin Roche
Kevin Roche
(1982) I. M. Pei
I. M. Pei
(1983) Richard Meier
Richard Meier
(1984) Hans Hollein
Hans Hollein
(1985) Gottfried Böhm
Gottfried Böhm
(1986) Kenzo Tange (1987) Gordon Bunshaft
Gordon Bunshaft
and Oscar Niemeyer
Oscar Niemeyer
(1988) Frank Gehry
Frank Gehry
(1989) Aldo Rossi
Aldo Rossi
(1990) Robert Venturi
Robert Venturi
(1991) Álvaro Siza Vieira
Álvaro Siza Vieira
(1992) Fumihiko Maki
Fumihiko Maki
(1993) Christian de Portzamparc
Christian de Portzamparc
(1994) Tadao Ando
Tadao Ando
(1995) Rafael Moneo
Rafael Moneo
(1996) Sverre Fehn
Sverre Fehn
(1997) Renzo Piano
Renzo Piano
(1998) Norman Foster (1999) Rem Koolhaas
Rem Koolhaas
(2000) Herzog & de Meuron (2001) Glenn Murcutt
Glenn Murcutt
(2002) Jørn Utzon
Jørn Utzon
(2003) Zaha Hadid
Zaha Hadid
(2004) Thom Mayne
Thom Mayne
(2005) Paulo Mendes da Rocha
Paulo Mendes da Rocha
(2006) Richard Rogers
Richard Rogers
(2007) Jean Nouvel
Jean Nouvel
(2008) Peter Zumthor
Peter Zumthor
(2009) Kazuyo Sejima
Kazuyo Sejima
and Ryue Nishizawa / SANAA
(2010) Eduardo Souto de Moura
Eduardo Souto de Moura
(2011) Wang Shu
Wang Shu
(2012) Toyo Ito
Toyo Ito
(2013) Shigeru Ban
Shigeru Ban
(2014) Frei Otto
Frei Otto
(2015) Alejandro Aravena
Alejandro Aravena
(2016) Rafael Aranda, Carme Pigem, and Ramón Vilalta / RCR Arquitectes (2017) B. V. Doshi
B. V. Doshi

v t e

Laureates of the Wolf Prize in Arts


Ralph Erskine (1983/4) Fumihiko Maki
Fumihiko Maki
/ Giancarlo De Carlo
Giancarlo De Carlo
(1988) Frank Gehry
Frank Gehry
/ Jørn Utzon
Jørn Utzon
/ Denys Lasdun
Denys Lasdun
(1992) Frei Otto
Frei Otto
/ Aldo van Eyck
Aldo van Eyck
(1996/7) Álvaro Siza Vieira
Álvaro Siza Vieira
(2001) Jean Nouvel
Jean Nouvel
(2005) David Chipperfield
David Chipperfield
/ Peter Eisenman
Peter Eisenman
(2010) Eduardo Souto de Moura
Eduardo Souto de Moura
(2013) Phyllis Lambert (2016)


Vladimir Horowitz
Vladimir Horowitz
/ Olivier Messiaen
Olivier Messiaen
/ Josef Tal
Josef Tal
(1982) Isaac Stern
Isaac Stern
/ Krzysztof Penderecki
Krzysztof Penderecki
(1987) Yehudi Menuhin
Yehudi Menuhin
/ Luciano Berio
Luciano Berio
(1991) Zubin Mehta
Zubin Mehta
/ György Ligeti
György Ligeti
(1995/6) Pierre Boulez
Pierre Boulez
/ Riccardo Muti
Riccardo Muti
(2000) Mstislav Rostropovich
Mstislav Rostropovich
/ Daniel Barenboim
Daniel Barenboim
(2004) Giya Kancheli
Giya Kancheli
/ Claudio Abbado
Claudio Abbado
(2008) Plácido Domingo
Plácido Domingo
/ Simon Rattle
Simon Rattle
(2012) Jessye Norman
Jessye Norman
/ Murray Perahia
Murray Perahia


Marc Chagall
Marc Chagall
/ Antoni Tàpies
Antoni Tàpies
(1981) Jasper Johns
Jasper Johns
(1986) Anselm Kiefer
Anselm Kiefer
(1990) Gerhard Richter
Gerhard Richter
(1994/5) Louise Bourgeois
Louise Bourgeois
(2002/3) Michelangelo Pistoletto
Michelangelo Pistoletto
(2006/7) Rosemarie Trockel
Rosemarie Trockel


Eduardo Chillida
Eduardo Chillida
(1984/5) Claes Oldenburg
Claes Oldenburg
(1989) Bruce Nauman
Bruce Nauman
(1993) James Turrell
James Turrell
(1998) Louise Bourgeois
Louise Bourgeois
(2002/3) Michelangelo Pistoletto
Michelangelo Pistoletto
(2006/7) Olafur Eliasson
Olafur Eliasson
(2014) Laurie Anderson
Laurie Anderson
/ Lawrence Weiner
Lawrence Weiner
(2017) Paul McCartney
Paul McCartney
/ Ádám Fischer
Ádám Fischer

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WorldCat Identities VIAF: 108223336 LCCN: n50049927 ISNI: 0000 0001 2146 8639 GND: 118590812 SELIBR: 384002 SUDOC: 092727093 BNF: cb131955602 (data) ULAN: 500015374 NLA: 35403301 NDL: 00451919 NKC: xx0023696 BNE: XX823599 RKD: 297