OLBRICH, Josef Maria
(b. 1867, Troppau, d. 1908, Düsseldorf)

Tietz Department Store

Königsallee, Düsseldorf

The exhibition buildings designed by Olbrich in Mathildenhöhe-Darmstadt for the Hessische Landesausstellung of 1908 reveal the gradual shift towards rectilinear forms and a restrained classicism in Olbrich's work. It became most pronounced in the buildings he designed outside Darmstadt: the Villa Feinhals (1908), Cologne, and the Tietz department store (1906-09; now the Kaufhof), Königsallee, Düsseldorf. After winning the competition for the latter, Olbrich set up an office in Düsseldorf to supervise the construction (completed after his death).

The building, planned around three internal light courts, was designed with a reinforced-concrete structure, faced externally with sandstone and internally with coloured marble, highly ornamented and lavishly decorated (original interior destroyed). The design for the façade developed concepts first employed in Alfred Messel's Wertheim store (1896-97; destroyed), Berlin, and had a considerable influence on store design in the Rhineland in the following decades. The building brought Olbrich much acclaim from contemporary critics.

The Tietz department store is still owned by the former Leonhard Tietz Group, today's Kaufhof (called this since 1933), which operates it under the name Galeria Kaufhof Düsseldorf Königsallee. The building sculpture on the external façades is the work of the sculptor Johannes Knubel (1877-1949), who worked on monumental façades in Düsseldorf and Cologne.