Remembering Raimund Abraham

A few hours after giving a lecture at SciArc in Los Angeles where he taught, experimental architect Raimund Abraham was killed when his car crashed into a bus in downtown. The lecture, “The Profanation of Solitude,” addressed his “enduring love for architecture and his willingness to fight for design discourse,” and surely the monumental buildings he left behind are a testament to just that. Abraham was most famous in the US for the Austrian Cultural Forum, “the most significant modern piece of architecture to be realized in Manhattan since the Seagram Building and the Guggenheim Museum in 1959,” according to architectural historian Kenneth Frampton.

The design was chosen over 200 others, and Abraham had to fight for it, telling Austrian Parliament they ought to support “radical architecture, not some mediocre office building.” The sliver of a building is only 24.5 feet wide, but at 275 feet tall, with a tapering glass and aluminum facade, it is as striking as it is functional. He might be just as well known for his architectural drawings as for his completed structures. Abraham’s designs were so experimental that most of them reside only on paper, but as a visionary he was at the top of his game. “His indefatigable search for authenticity and his trenchant critique of superficiality kept us all honest.”