Architectural Archives

Hans Norbert Wormann Collection (297)

The collection comprises photographic materials, clippings and architectural drawings documenting the architect’s work in both Germany and the United States between 1927 and 1977. The bulk of the materials were originally housed within a series of 12 portfolios created by the architect for marketing purposes.

Wormann distributed, or otherwise, disposed of the bulk of his architectural records in the late 1970s as he closed his office. Therefore, the collection for the most part does not include any project correspondence, design drawings, or other types of materials commonly associated with architectural design and practice.
 

Biographical / Historical Sketch

Hans Norbert Wormann was born in Berlin on July 30, 1898. He received training in architecture at the Technical University in Berlin prior to establishing an independent practice in the mid-1920s. Working in and around the capital city, Wormann’s Berlin projects include a number of private houses and apartment buildings as well as office interiors for the Hollywood based Fox Film Company. His work of the period suggests an increasing interest in the emerging modernism of the day with an emphasis on creating settings for everyday life—qualities that would define his work throughout his career.

Wormann, of Jewish descent, uprooted his practice and family in the months following the rise of the National Socialist Party. He, like many in Berlin’s German Jewish architectural circle, chose to leave his homeland rather than face imminent exclusion from his profession . His wife, Hortense, was born in the United States enabling the family’s relocation to New York City during the summer of 1933. His work received attention almost immediately with the publication, under the title “A new expression of Teutonic modernism,” of his Dannenbaum House (1929-30) in the January 1934 issue of House & Garden. His early American works also received extensive publication in sources as diverse as the New York Times and Architectural Record.  Of his design for the Kaufman House (1936-38) in particular, a contemporary critic noted Wormann’s “use of the artistic and technical factors of the present”—with no allusions to the past—to create a design distinctive for its “individuality.”

During the postwar years, Wormann maintained an active practice designing all manner of interiors and residential projects in New York City and beyond. His emphasis on designing complete interiors, while recalling his German artistic roots, embraced a changing American lifestyle increasingly at home with informality. His Carson House (1956-58) and Dean House (1956) capture most vividly the transitional nature of the mid-1950s where flexible spaces, be they transformable wet bars and recreation rooms, are incorporated to balance a past formality. Wormann retired from active practice in the mid-1970s to St. Augustine, Florida were he passed away on March 1, 1982.

Scope and Content Note

The Hans Norbert Wormann collection comprises photographic materials, clippings and architectural drawings documenting the architect’s work in both Germany and the United States. The bulk of the materials were originally housed within a series of 12 portfolios created by the architect for marketing purposes. During the process of arranging the collection, these items were removed from the portfolios due to the long-term storage concerns associated with the original Acetate sleeves. All collection holdings were sorted, in alphabetical order, by project name and arranged into three series: I. Architectural Drawings, II. Photographic Materials & Clippings, and III. Architectural Fragments.

Wormann distributed, or otherwise, disposed of the bulk of his architectural records in the late 1970s as he closed his office. Therefore, the collection for the most part does not include any project correspondence, design drawings, or other types of materials commonly associated with architectural design and practice.
 

Provenance

Acquisition:  Gift of Eleanor Finver and Diana Smith, 2009.