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Research

  • Sep Ruf and the Image of Post-War Modernism: The Construction Detail as Index of Changing Paradigms in German Modern Architecture, 1949–59
  • GRANTEE
    Lynnette Widder
    GRANT YEAR
    2011

Maxburg in Munich, 1952-57.

Sep Ruf was one of the most prominent Modernist practitioners in post–War Germany, among a generation of architects whose work was eclipsed by that of their enormously influential expatriot colleagues in the United States. This reexamination of Ruf's buildings offers new insights, belied by standard histories, into the full range of the modern idiom in post–war Germany and America. Ruf's stylistic and spatial development between 1949 and 1959 parallels changes in his approach to building construction—which in turn reflect a larger-scale reorientation towards an emergent, corporate International Style–model introduced to Germany by American architects working for the United States High Command and supported by the regenerated German building industry. This study examines the transition in construction detail from Ruf's delicate early painstakingly realized, individually pieced steel and glass facades, to his robust, system–façade construction in the late 1950s, investigating the influence of Skidmore Owings and Merrill's immediate post-war buildings on German developments.

Lynnette Widder received a BA in 1985 from Barnard College and an MArch from Columbia University in 1990. Since July, 2012, she is full–time faculty in Columbia University's Master’s of Sustainability Management program. She was an associate professor and head of the Department of Architecture at the Rhode Island School of Design, and has also taught at  Cornell University, Cranbrook Academy, and the ETH Zürich. Her writing has appeared in many German and English language architectural journals, and she has translated books on the history and theory of architecture for the GTA Institute, Cambridge University Press, MIT Press, and Nigli Verlag, among others. Her research work on Jean Prouve, Karl Bötticher, and postwar German architecture has been presented at conferences at Columbia University and the Alvar Aalto Academy; she was cochair of the Return Emigrations conference at Columbia University in 2008. She is coauthor and editor of the monograph Ira Rakatansky: As Modern as Tomorrow, funded by the Graham Foundation. She was a Fulbright Scholar in 1989, and she is also partner in the architecture office aardvarchitecture, with Christian Volkmann.