Saturday, March 6, 2010
I've learned just now of the passing of Raimund Abraham, the gentleman designer who taught at Yale while my husband was there getting his master's degree in architecture. He was Austrian, a visionary, already white-haired when I met him. He believed as much in works on paper as he did in the metal and glass of the buildings—Manhattan's Austrian Cultural Forum, most famously—that he designed. He was, to me, a legend—that rare individual whose intelligence and artistic fierceness figured prominently and formatively in my husband's imagination. Under Abraham's instruction my husband designed an imaginary building of the cut-through of shadows for Times Square. Raimund made me see my own husband differently, and all through the years, I have remembered this—the way that Raimund carved a path for my husband's particular way of seeing.
Once, at the close of a critiquing session, Raimund took the studio out for a meal; I was there for a visit and he took me, too. The restaurant was dark, down a set of stairs, more like a grotto. Toward the end of the table, the great man sat, and you could feel his greatness permeating. You could feel each person at the table registering the moment in their minds, saying, to themselves, This is a meal I'll always remember.
Raimund Abraham was killed in a car accident on Thursday in Los Angeles. A building called the Musicians' House was in the works at the time in Germany. If there's anything more tragic than a man passing away before his time, it is an architect of Raimund's caliber passing away before he could walk beneath, between, and through the shadows of a building he created.