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Radical Architecture Firm Coop Himmelb(L)Au Spotlighted in U.S. Debut of Exhibition

Radical Architecture Firm Coop Himmelb(L)Au Spotlighted in U.S. Debut of Exhibition

Wed, Mar 11, 2009

200 Models Covering Four Decades of Work Showcased

Columbus, OH—Showcasing the work of Viennese architecture firm COOP HIMMELB(L)AU from the past 40 years, the highly designed, internationally touring exhibition COOP HIMMELB(L)AU: Beyond the Blue makes its U.S. debut at the Wexner Center April 2–July 26, 2009. First conceived and presented at the MAK, a leading museum of contemporary art and design in Vienna, this multimedia show marks the most comprehensive museum exhibition to date of the firm’s work. It will include more than 200 architectural models, displayed as an urban landscape on raised platforms with choreographed lighting, graphics, and a film (featuring interviews with COOP design principal Wolf D. Prix) in a rich visual experience recalling an urban landscape plan. A model of the show as it appeared at the MAK will be included, as will a model of the COOP-designed Akron Art Museum addition in a “HIMMELB(L)AU in Ohio” section. Jeffrey Kipnis, professor of architecture at Ohio State’s Knowlton School of Architecture and the Wexner Center’s former curator of architecture and design, is the exhibition's consulting curator.

Notes Wexner Center Director Sherri Geldin, “The Wexner Center has a longstanding commitment to presenting the work of bold and innovative architects in dynamic installation contexts. Having seen this remarkable retrospective of Coop Himmelb(l)au in Vienna, I was convinced that it could be creatively reconfigured for the Wex, allowing our audiences to appreciate the unique philosophy and design practice that has characterized Himmelb(l)au’s work over decades.”

As Kipnis writes in the catalogue, this exhibition “constitutes an explicit critique by COOP HIMMELB(L)AU of urban planning today….demonstrating how easy it would be to make something much better, if only we had the courage.”


Launched in 1968 in the midst of one of the most creative and turbulent periods of the 20th century, Coop Himmelb(l)au—now based in Vienna and Los Angeles and led by Wolf D. Prix—has never yielded its radical fervor and has consistently [Text Box: Wolf D. Prix] produced exquisite, experimental plans and constructions that reject preconceived notions of design. Among the cooperative’s current and recent projects are the dramatic double cone structure of the new BMW center (BMW Welt) in Munich, the eye-catching addition to the Akron Art Museum (2007), the dramatic headquarters for the European Central Bank in Frankfurt (slated for completion 2014), and the Museum of Contemporary Art & Exhibition Planning in Shenzen, China, among other projects. It also recently completed the Central Los Angeles High School #9 for the Visual and Performing Arts. In the name of the firm, “COOP” signals the firm’s identity as a cooperative; “Himmelb(l)au” offers the double meanings of “sky blue” (with the “l”) and “sky construction” (without). For more information, visit



Wolf D. Prix will be speaking on Wednesday, April 1 at 6:30 pm in the Wexner Center’s Film/Video Theater as part of the opening events for the exhibition (the opening party is from 5 to 8 pm). He will be discussing his career and recent projects with Jeffrey Kipnis, professor at OSU’s Knowlton School of Architecture and consulting curator for this exhibition.  Admission to the talk is free.


The accompanying, fully illustrated catalogue edited by Peter Noever, features essays by Jeffrey Kipnis, Sylvia Lavin, and Peter Noever, as well as programmatic and project texts by COOP HIMMELB(L)AU (German/English, pp. 192, MAK Vienna/Prestel Verlag, Munich, Berlin, London, New York 2007). It is available online at
or in the Wexner Center Store for $60.

VISITOR INFORMATION COOP HIMMELB(L)AU: Beyond the Blue is on view April 2–July 26, 2009 at the Wexner Center for the Arts, 1871 N. High St. (at 15th Ave.) on the campus of The Ohio State University. Also on view during that time are William Forsythe: Transfigurations and Catch Air: Robin Rhode. Gallery hours are Tuesday–Wednesday and Sunday 11 am–6 pm; Thursday–Saturday 11 am–8 pm; closed Mondays. Walk-in Tours are held Thursdays at 5 and Saturdays at 1 (starting April 4). The opening party will be held Wednesday, April 1 from 5 to 8 pm (admission fee applies). Admission to the galleries is $5; free for Wexner Center members, college students, and visitors 18 and under; free Thursdays from 4 to 8 pm and the first Sunday of the month. More info: or 614 292-3535.




This exhibition is organized by MAK, Vienna.

It has received support from Corporate Annual Fund of the Wexner Center Foundation and Wexner Center members, as well as from the Greater Columbus Arts Council, The Columbus Foundation, Nationwide Foundation, and the Ohio Arts Council.

PARKING UPDATE: Construction at 15th and High. For more information click here.

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