Modernist architect and city planner
Ludwig Hilberseimer was a central figure in the development of modern architecture and city planning in Germany in the interwar period. After his emigration to the United States, he became an influential architectural educator.
Hilberseimer was born in Karlsruhe in 1885. He studied architecture at the Technical University of Karlsruhe for four years but left the university without formally graduating in 1910. In the years that followed, Hilberseimer worked as an architect and planning consultant in Bremen and Berlin. He also began his career as an art critic and author on the theoretical issues of his discipline. In 1929, Hannes Meyer, the second director of the Bauhaus, recruited Hilberseimer to teach at his school. There he taught architecture and city planning until the institute was closed down by the Nazis in 1933.
In 1938, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Meyer's successor at the Bauhaus, who had moved to Chicago in order to teach at the Armour Institute of Technology (later renamed Illinois Institute of Technology, IIT), offered Hilberseimer a position on the faculty. Since the Nazi elites were undermining the professional careers of many of the former Bauhaus members, Hilberseimer accepted the position and left Germany.
Although mostly concerned with teaching and the theory of planning, Hilberseimer was also practically involved in urban renewal projects which were at the focus of many American cities after World War II. Together with Mies van der Rohe and Alfred Caldwell, for instance, he was responsible for the Lafayette Park housing development in Detroit, Michigan.