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Gottfried Böhm has made architectural history. In 1986, he was the first and as yet only German to receive the Pritzker Prize, initially endowed only a few years before and generally regarded as the greatest international accolade in architecture. Born into a family of architects in 1920, Gottfried took over the Cologne offices of his legendary father Dominikus Böhm (1880—1955) in the 50s. His father had made his name as a pioneer of Modernist buildings constructed for the Catholic Church. Gottfried’s early work until into the 60s was almost exclusively in the reconstruction and new building of churches. The Pilgrimage Church in Neviges (1964–68), for example, is a crystalline ecclesiastical building modelled in exposed concrete, demonstrating Böhm’s absolute virtuosity. Here the utopian ideas of Expressionist architects – who had dreamt of massive buildings generating a sense of community – found a late and surprising expression, albeit in the bosom of the Catholic Church. The book compares and contrasts Böhm’s masterly design sketches with photographs of the finished buildings; essays outline his career and œuvre. A detailed index of works makes the lavish publication into an essential reference work.
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