1915 - 2012
Gerhard Michael Kallmann was born in the Berlin of World War I, and lived there until his family, fearing the Nazi regime, emigrated to London. He studied at the Architectural Association and in 1948 moved to the United States, eventually settling in New York City. In the following decade, despite already being a respected professor at Columbia University, Kallmann’s professional activity remained largely low-key. In 1962, however, with the competition for Boston’s new city hall, his career had a stroke of good luck. In partnership with the young Columbia graduate Michael McKinnell, he carried the day over 255 contestants with an unexpected, unique New Brutalist proposal in reinforced concrete that, inspired by the La Tourette convent, was immediately acclaimed by Ada Louie Huxtable, already then the architecture critic for The New York Times. The project led to the incorporation in 1962 of the firm Kallmann, McKinnell & Knowles, which in the decades that followed came to produce outstanding buildings, though none emulating the quality of the “giant concrete harmonica” of Boston.