Museum of Contemporary Art
COOP HIMMELB(L)AU was founded by Wolf D. Prix, Helmut Swiczinsky, and Michael Holzer in Vienna, Austria, in 1968, and is active in architecture, urban planning, design, and art. In 1988, a second studio was opened in Los Angeles, USA. Further project offices are located in Frankfurt, Germany and Paris, France. COOP HIMMELB(L)AU employs currently between 50 and 150 team members from nineteen nations.
The architectural studio COOP HIMMELB(L)AU is directed by Wolf D. Prix, Harald Krieger, Karolin Schmidbaur, Markus Prossnigg and Project Partners.
After Michael Holzer left the team in 1971, and with the retirement of Helmut Swiczinsky in 2001 from COOP HIMMELB(L)AU’s daily operations and in 2006 from the office, Wolf D. Prix is leading the studio as Design Principal/ CEO. From 2000 until 2011, Wolfdieter Dreibholz was part of COOP HIMMELB(L)AU as CEO and Partner. In 2003 Harald Krieger was designated Partner of COOP HIMMELB(L)AU and is managing director of COOP HIMMELB(L)AU Europe GmbH, Frankfurt/ M., Germany, since 2006, and became CFO of the studio in 2011. Karolin Schmidbaur was made Partner of the office in 1996 and is currently Design and Managing Partner of COOP HIMMELB(L)AU Vienna (since 2009) as well as the Director of the office in Los Angeles, California (since 2003). In 2012 Louise Kiesling was appointed Head of Product Design. Markus Prossnigg became Managing Partner in 2015 and is responsible for the overall management, supervision and delivery of key projects.
COOP HIMMELB(L)AU’s most well-known projects include: the Rooftop Remodeling Falkestraße in Vienna (1988) ; the master plan for the City of Melun-Sénart in France; the Groninger Museum, East Pavilion in Groningen (1994) in the Netherlands; the design for the EXPO.02—Forum Arteplage in Biel, Switzerland (2002); the multifunctional UFA Cinema Center in Dresden, Germany (1998); the Academy of Fine Arts (2005) and the BMW Welt (2007) in Munich, Germany; the Akron Art Museum in Ohio, USA (2007); the Central Los Angeles Area High School #9 of Visual and Performing Arts in Los Angeles, USA (2008); the Pavilion 21 MINI Opera Space in Munich, Germany (2010); the Martin Luther Church in Hainburg, Austria (2011); the Busan Cinema Center in Busan, South Korea (2011); the Dalian International Conference Center in China (2012), the House of Music in Aalborg, Denmark (2014), the Musée des Confluences in Lyon, France (2014), the European Central Bank’s new headquarters in Frankfurt am Main, Germany (2014) and the Museum of Contemporary Art & Planning Exhibition (MOCAPE) in Shenzhen, China (2016).
COOP HIMMELB(L)AU realized further key projects in Vienna in the past years, including the SEG Apartment Tower (1998), followed by the SEG Apartment Block Remise (2000); the Apartment Building Gasometer B (2001); the Apartment and Office Building Schlachthausgasse (2005); and the Apartment Building ‘Liesing Brewery’ (2011).
Among the recent projects that COOP HIMMELB(L)AU is pursuing throughout the world are the House of Bread II in Asten, Austria (2017) and the Five Star Hotel Tower at the Dawang Mountain Resort, Changsha, China (2017). Additional projects in planning are the Central Bank of Azerbaijan, Baku, Azerbaijan, the 5th World, Russell Means Library, Porcupine, South Dakota, USA, as well as the ATMOS Selfness Resort.
Over the course of the past four decades, COOP HIMMELB(L)AU has received numerous international awards. These include: the Förderungspreis für Baukunst, Berlin (1982), the Award of the City of Vienna for Architecture (1988), the Erich Schelling Architektur Preis (1992), the Progressive Architecture/ P. A. Award (1989, 1990, and 1991), the Großer Österreichischer Staatspreis (1999) as well as the European Steel Design Award (2001). In 2005, for the design of the Akron Art Museum, our studio received the American Architecture Award. Our studio was awarded for the 2007 International Architecture Award for four projects. In 2008 COOP HIMMELB(L)AU received the RIBA International Award for the Akron Art Museum. In the same year the RIBA European Award and the World Architecture Festival Award: Production were given for the project BMW Welt. In 2010, COOP HIMMELB(L)AU won the MIPIM Architectural Review Future Projects Award in the category sustainability for their project Town Town Erdberg. In 2011 the office received the Wallpaper* Design Award 2011 (Category: “Best Building Sites”) for the project Dalian International Conference Center, the Dedalo Minosse International Prize for the project BMW Welt as well as the Red dot award: product design (Category: “Architecture”) for the Central Los Angeles Area High School #9 of Visual and Performing Arts. COOP HIMMELB(L)AU’s House of Music II received the Danish Annual Building Award (2014) and was awarded by The Committee for Building Awards in Aalborg (2015).
Recognized as seminal for the architecture of the future, the works of COOP HIMMELB(L)AU have continually been the subject of international exhibitions. Among the largest and most widely known are the solo retrospectives Construire le Ciel in 1992 at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, France, and the exhibition entitled Deconstructivist Architecture held in 1988 at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, under the curatorship of Philip Johnson and Mark Wigley.
Internationally renowned institutions such as the Getty Foundation in Los Angeles, the Austrian Museum of Applied Arts/Contemporary Art (MAK) in Vienna, and the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris display the works of COOP HIMMELB(L)AU as part of their permanent exhibitions.
In 1996, COOP HIMMELB(L)AU was invited to serve as the Austrian representative to the 6th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, Italy. Since then, our studio has been a regular participant, presenting several projects such as the Musée des Confluences and the Guangzhou Opera House. The Musée des Confluences in Lyon was additionally shown at the Latent Utopias exhibition in Graz, Austria, from October 2002 to March 2003.
COOP HIMMELB(L)AU has also been presented on several occasions at the Aedes East Gallery in Berlin, for example, at well-known shows such as Skyline in 1985, The Vienna Trilogy + One Cinema in 1998, and the exhibition on the competition for the BMW Event and Delivery Center in 2002. In the same year, COOP HIMMELB(L)AU was also present at the 8th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, Italy, with the projects BMW Welt and a design for the new World Trade Center. In 2007/08, the exhibition COOP HIMMELB(L)AU. Beyond the Blue was shown at the MAK in Vienna and traveled in 2009 to the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio, USA. At the 11th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, Italy, COOP HIMMELB(L)AU has been presented with two contributions: Astro Balloon 1969 Revisited – Feedback Space at L’ Arsenale and Brain City Lab at Padiglione Italia. The two installations were also shown in 2009, at the COOP HIMMELB(L)AU: Future Revisited exhibition at NTT InterCommunication Center [ICC] in Tokyo, Japan. In 2011 the solo exhibition “Architecture is the Media and the Media is the Message” was shown at the Design Center in Busan, South Korea.
COOP HIMMELB(L)AU has also designed several exhibitions. Among their best known works are Paradise Cage: Kiki Smith and Coop Himmelb(l)au, shown in 1996 at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, and in 2000 Rudi Gernreich: Fashion will go out of fashion, for the Steirischer Herbst festival in Graz, Austria, which also traveled to Philadelphia, USA. In 2012, on the occasion of Wolf D. Prix’s 70th birthday, the Aedes Architecture Forum Berlin devoted the exhibition COOP HIMMELB(L)AU: 7+ Wolf D. Prix & Partner Projects Models Plans Sketches Statements to COOP HIMMELB(L)AU.
Known as the punk rockers of architecture Coop Himmelb(l)au was founded in Vienna in 1968 by Wolf Prix, Helmut Swiczinsky and Michael Holzer. With the exhibition ‘Wiener Supersommer’ in 1976 they delivered an aggressive alternative to the usual urban architecture and stated their name as a provocative, mould-breaking studio not afraid to go beyond the scope of architecture.
Austrian Coop Himmelb(l)au was founded in 1968 by Wolf Prix, Helmut Swiczinsky and Michael Holzer. With the 1976 “Wiener Summer” exhibition Himmelb(l)au stated its name as a cross barrier and groundbreaking studio to take a different approach to architecture than ‘the usual’ and introduced themselves as frontrunners within deconstructivism.
The studio had its international breakthrough with a contribution to the exhibition “Deconstructivist Architecture” at Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York in 1986 alongside Peter Eisenman, Zaha Hadid and Frank Gehry.
Michael Holzer left the team in 1971, and the office is now run by Wolf D. Prix, Wolfdieter Dreibholz, Harald Krieger, Karolin Schmidbaur and partners after the retirement of Helmut Swiczinsky in 2001.
The office works within the cross-field of architecture, urban planning, design, and art, and is known for highly provocative architecture pushing the limits of the well known. Most of the projects are found in Europe with additional projects in the US and recently increasing expansion around Asia.
Stated by co-founder, design principal and CEO, Wolf D. Prix (b. 1942), Coop Himmelb(l)au thinks of their architecture as part of the 21st century; as art which reflects and gives a mirror image of the variety and vivacity, tension and complexity of our cities.
More radically put the studio’s ‘Architecture must burn’ manifesto from 1980, stated that:
We want architecture that has more to offer. Architecture that bleeds, exhausts, that turns and even breaks […] Architecture that glows, that stabs, that tears and rips when stretched. Architecture must be precipitous, fiery, smooth, hard, angular, brutal, round, tender, colourful, obscene, randy, dreamy, en-nearing, distancing, wet, dry and heart-stopping. Dead or alive. If it is cold, then cold as a block of ice. If it is hot, then as hot as a tongue of flame. Architecture must burn!
In 1988, a second studio was opened in Los Angeles, USA, and since then further project offices has opened in Frankfurt, Germany, Paris, France, Hong Kong, Beijing, China and Baku, Azerbaijani.
In 2010 the studio was awarded the MIPIM Architectural Review Future Projects Awards, the 2008 RIBA European Award, the American Architecture Award of 2005, the RIBA Annie Spink Award in 2004, Gold Medal for merits to the federal state of Vienna, Austria, in 2002 and the 2001 European Steel Design Award among others.