Knud Lonberg-Holm, Modernism’s Long-Lost Architect

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Knud Lonberg-Holm, Modernism's Long-Lost Architect
Knud Lonberg-Holm (1895-1972), a criminally overlooked but highly influential Modernist architect, photographer, and pioneer of information design
Knud Lonberg-Holm, Modernism's Long-Lost Architect
Knud Lonberg-Holm (1895-1972), a criminally overlooked but highly influential Modernist architect, photographer, and pioneer of information design

At the height of his popularity, R. Buckminster Fuller, the visionary inventor best known as the father of the geodesic dome, was on a mission. Whether at a conference at the American Society for Metals in 1958; in guest editorials in Saturday Review, Newsweek, or the planning journal Ekistics in the 1960s; or in an interview in the popular magazine House & Garden in 1972, Fuller repeatedly referred to his great friend, the architect Knud Lonberg-Holm—a “really great architect of the Nysky (New York skyscraper) age”—whom Fuller said “has been completely unrecognized and unsung,” and whose “scientific foresight and design competence are largely responsible for the present world around the state of advancement of the building arts.”

Fuller’s indebtedness to his “unsung Leonardo of the building industry” went back to when they first met in 1929 to talk about the idea of producing “invisible architecture.” Lonberg-Holm believed that invisible buildings directly contradicted Louis Sullivan’s classic “form follows function” and that because of improvements in chemical alloys, the dimensions of any given structure could be reduced while its strength increases. In other words, “builders are able to do more with less.”

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