Dietmar Steiner (1951-2020)

John Hill, Katinka Corts
19. May 2020
Dietmar Steiner (Photo: Heribert Corn © Architekturzentrum Wien)

Dietmar Steiner was the founding director of the Architekturzentrum Wien, taught at the Vienna University of Applied Sciences, and was president of the International Confederation of Architecture Museums (ICAM). He died on Friday, May 15, at the age of 68.

When the Architekturzentrum Wien (Az W) was founded in Vienna in 1993 as the only architecture museum in Austria — and one of few such museums in the world — Dietmar Steiner served as its inaugural director and remained so for 23 years. Steiner's commitment brought the topic of architecture closer to a large audience through wide-ranging temporary and permanent exhibitions on a variety of themes. Located in the MuseumsQuartier, the Az W is a centerpiece in the city's cultural landscape.

Steiner studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna under Gustav Peichl and Ernst Plischke, and soon after he became General Secretary of the Austrian Society for Architecture (ÖGFA), a post he held in the early 1980s. He taught at the University of Applied Sciences until 1989 and then opened his own architectural office. In addition to working in the Az W,  Steiner worked for four years as an editor of Domus magazine and was commissioner of the Austrian Pavilion at the International Architecture Exhibition of the 2002 Venice Biennale.

Throughout his career, Steiner advocated humane and resource-conserving architecture and criticized star architecture and large global offices. His retirement in 2017 was marked with the film Journey through Time — 60 Years of Architecture — an Essayistic Intervention and the book Steiner's Diary: About Architecture Since 1959. After retirement he planned to publish an architectural guide to Friedrich Achleitner and his buildings in Lower Austria. Unfortunately, he was not able to complete this project.

A version of this article originally appeared on German-Architects.

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