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

Kirche am Steinhof: general view

1904-07
Photo
Baumgartner Hhe 1, Penzing, Vienna

Wagner's late projects from 1903 radically continued the transformation of the work of Schinkel, Van der Nll and Semper, as seen in his two master buildings: the sanatorium church of Kirche am Steinhof (also called Leopoldskirche), the church of the Steinhof Asylum in Penzing outside Vienna, and the Postsparkasse (1903-12), also in Vienna. These buildings are considered his most revolutionary work; both utilized new materials - steel, glass, aluminium - and innovative modes of construction in a highly successful fusion of functional building and aesthetic vision.

The church is built on a Greek cross plan, surmounted by a steel-framed semicircular dome with a tall drum on an octagon. The domed ceiling within is carried on a gilded steel mesh. A modified Roman Doric order is expressed in four giant columns that pierce the projected transom of the entrance arch, to be crowned by bronze statuary below a deep, coffered cornice outlining the shallow narthex, transepts and sanctuary.

The Jugendstil angels in gilded bronze are by Othmar Schimkowitz (1864-1947). On the two bell towers framing the faade, two saints (Leopold on the right and Severin on the left) by Richard Luksch (1872-1936) occupy seats designed by Josef Hoffmann.

There is abundant decoration, submitted to a linear stylization kept within rectangles and squares. Although remotely Byzantinesque in character, it appears non-historicist and very much in the spirit of works by younger architects, such as Josef Maria Olbrich and Peter Behrens.