28 Oct 2021

Panel 2: Großstadt: German Perspectives
Moderation: Regina Bittner (Head of Academy, Bauhaus Dessau Foundation)
>> Bauhaus Museum Dessau, Workshop room

9:40 – 10:10 am
Hilberseimer and Der Einzige
Scott Colman (Rice University School of Architecture in Houston)

Ludwig Hilberseimer’s first published writings appeared in Der Einzige in 1919, one of numerous avant-garde journals that emerged in Germany in the immediate aftermath of World War I. The journal was edited by the philosopher Anselm Ruest and the writer Mynona (pseudonyms for Ernst Samuel and Salomo Friedlaender, respectively), both prominent in Expressionist literary circles and participants in the early events of Berlin Dada. Hilberseimer’s involvement with Der Einzige exposes the logic of his “spiritual materialism” and theoretical approach to architectural and urban practice, underlying even the shift in the direction of his work during the Bauhaus years. The lecture will argue this philosophical approach to cultural work constitutes Hilberseimer’s most important theoretical legacy and one that designers would do well to reconsider today.

10:20 – 10:50 am
Ludwig Hilberseimer, the Red Bauhaus and the CIAM
Magdalena Droste (formerly Bauhaus-Archiv, Berlin)

The subject of the lecture is the most important planning project at the Bauhaus Dessau under Mies van der Rohe, the Fichtenbreite housing estate and its later integration into the CIAM analysis for Dessau in 1933. Both projects have received little attention in Bauhaus historiography to date. The Fichtenbreite project was developed in the winter semester of 1931/32 as a collective planning project under the direction of Hilberseimer. Even before the end of the semester, three students took over the project in order to work on it as a comparative cartographic analysis for the Athens Congress in the summer of 1933. The lecture attempts to reconstruct the processing stages and their different actors.

11 – 11:30 am
The (Almost) Invisible Third. Ludwig Hilberseimer and Germany after World War II
Andreas Schätzke (Bauhaus Dessau Foundation)

From 1933 onwards, several hundred architects left Germany as a result of the National Socialist dictatorship. In the post-war period, German society was characterized by an extremely ambivalent relationship towards its former fellow citizens. In the field of architecture and urban planning, too, the former colleagues who now lived abroad were treated in very different ways. The lecture deals with the relationship between Ludwig Hilberseimer and Germany after 1945 on the basis of three topics: Hilberseimer in comparison to other emigrated architects; in his capacity as a former teacher at the Bauhaus in connection with the reception of this school in post-war Germany; and as an expert within the professional debates about urban architecture and urban development in a country that was being reconstructed.

11:30 am – 12 pm
Panel discussion

12:00 – 1:30 pm
Lunch Break

Panel 3 Urban Landscapes: US Perspectives
Moderation: Robin Schuldenfrei
>> Bauhaus Museum Dessau, Workshop room

1:30 – 2 pm
Keynote: Hilberseimer Reconsidered: Commitments and Continuities
Charles Waldheim (Harvard University)

This talk rehearses Hilberseimer’s intellectual and professional commitments from Berlin to Chicago. The premise of my argument is that while much of the literature on Hilberseimer has described discontinuities or breaks between the two halves of his career, it is possible, and perhaps even necessary, for us to read the continuities across his career.

2:10 – 2:40 pm
Hilberseimer, Fort Dearborn, and Urban Renewal in Chicago
Alison Fisher (Art Institute of Chicago)

While Hilberseimer’s independent neighborhood and regional development schemes have been central to scholarly analysis of the planner’s work in Chicago, his designs for specific urban renewal projects are less well understood. This lecture seeks to expand this area of inquiry by exploring Hilberseimer’s proposal for a large urban renewal project known as Fort Dearborn, directed by the Chicago Plan Commission. Unlike many American architects working in the 1940s, Hilberseimer was already well acquainted with bold plans for the redevelopment of historical cities. The lecture will analyze his many drawings for Fort Dearborn in the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago in light of the planner’s writings on land use, the role of streets, and the historical trajectory of western cities.

3 – 3:30 pm
Operational Landscapes. Infrastructures of the Non-City
Nikos Katsikis (Delft University of Technology)

In his 1947 seminal publication The New Regional Pattern, Hilberseimer developed an elaborate critique of regional specialization, which he argued, resulted in an uneven pattern of development between industrialized, urbanized regions, and monofunctional agricultural and other primary production regions. For him, this segregated pattern formed the basis of social inequality and environmental degradation. His vision aimed to abolish this dichotomy between city and countryside. Contrary to his ambition, the past decades have seen a continuation of regional specialization at a planetary scale, as urbanization processes have led not only to increasing concentration of population and economic activities in agglomeration landscapes, but also to the expansion of their metabolic footprint into a multiscalar web of operational landscapes.

3:40 – 4:10 pm
Invention of a Metropolitan Architecture: From the Existing City to Interior Urbanism
Alexander Eisenschmidt (University of Illinois at Chicago’s School of Architecture)

In 1914, while still working as a draftsperson in the Berlin office of Heinz Lassen, the aspiring planner Ludwig Hilberseimer poured over the newly published book Die Architektur der Großstadt (1913) by Karl Scheffler. This early engagement with Scheffler’s work would guide his understanding of the city and foreshadow the formulation of a “metropolitan architecture” as he would define it in 1927 under the title Großstadtarchitektur. Analyzing the beginning of Hilberseimer’s studies of the city, highlighting its indebtedness to the work of Scheffler, and understanding it as a baseline for his first major publication on the city, this lecture will argue for the importance of the metropolis in the work of Hilberseimer.

4:15 – 4:45 pm
Panel discussion

4:45 – 6 pm
Coffee break + Lichtspielhaus in motion
>> Bauhaus Museum Dessau, Open Stage

6:30 – 7:30 pm
Opening of the Intermezzo "Ludwig Hilberseimer: Infrastructures of Modernity"
>> Bauhaus Museum Dessau, Open Stage

7:30 pm
Dinner