(b. 1841, Penzing, d. 1918, Wien)


Austrian architect, urban planner, designer, teacher and writer. He was one of the most important architects of the 19th and 20th centuries - in 1911, Adolf Loos called him 'the greatest architect in the world' - and a key figure in the development of 20th-century European architecture. His work, spread over more than half a century, embodies the transition from mid-19th-century historicism to the earliest expressions of 20th-century Modernism. Wagner was an influential teacher and theorist, and in addition to his executed work, he designed and published more than 100 ambitious schemes, the last volume of his Einige Skizzen being published posthumously in 1922; this long series of often fantastic but always highly pragmatic and carefully thought out projects included urban plans, museums, academies, parliament buildings and public monuments.

Wagner studied architecture at the School of Architecture at the Vienna Academy (1861-63), where he later became a teacher 1904-12). Among his students were the renowned Art Nouveau architects Josef Maria Olbrich and Josef Hoffmann. His first buildings were villas in the style of the Florentine Renaissance. From 1893, he turned away from historicism and called for a new style suited to the needs of the modern-day. In other words, he called for a language of form based on considerations of function, material and construction - one of the principles of modern architecture of the 1920s. He expanded his ideas in his book Moderne Architektur of 1896.

His most important buildings in this new style are those for the Vienna Stadtbahn metropolitan railway (1894-1901) and the Austrian Post Office Savings Bank (1904-06).

He designed and built a career-long series of 13 large residential blocks in Vienna. Typical examples are those at Schottenring 23 (1877) and Stadiongasse 6-8 (1882), and later the blocks at Linke Wienzeile 38-40, including the Majolika Haus (1898). The Kirche am Steinhof (the sanatorium church of St Leopold, 1903-07) was one of his important late projects.

Wagner was of major significance for the development of architecture around 1900 and a pioneer of modern architecture. His pupils, who included Josef Maria Olbrich and Josef Hoffmann, developed his ideas even further.

Alongside his activities as an architect, Wagner also produced designs for applied art, particularly during his membership of the Vienna Secession (1899-1905), which he left with the Klimt group.