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Wilhelm Holzbauer‘s Perilous Journey to America

Tale from the Collection

Architect Holzbauer on a tree

Wilhelm Holzbauer, photo of travels in the USA, from the archive of Traudl Bayer, 1956–1958
© Architekturzentrum Wien, Collection, photograph: Traudl Bayer

Wilhelm Holzbauer’s career as an architect nearly came to a premature end in 1956. His first trip to the USA ended with the dramatic sinking of the ship he was travelling in.

In July 1956 the young Fulbright scholarship student embarked on the “Andrea Doria” to cross the Atlantic for the first time, with New York as his goal. At that time no-one could yet know what dramatic scenes were to take place off the coast of Nantucket, when the luxury liner collided with the passenger ship “Stockholm”, which was heading eastwards. As the “Andrea Doria” began to list dramatically half of the rescue boats could not be used. It was only the rapid response by other ships that prevented a catastrophe similar to the Titanic disaster in 1912. Of the more than 1700 people on board the “Andrea Doria” 1660 survived.

Architect Holzbauer on a ship
Wilhelm Holzbauer on a ship near the American coast, photo of travels in the USA, from the archive of Traudl Bayer, 1956–1958
© Architekturzentrum Wien, Collection, photograph: Traudl Bayer
Architect Holzbauer on a ship
Wilhelm Holzbauer on a ship, photo of travels in the USA, from the archive of Traudl Bayer, 1956–1958
© Architekturzentrum Wien, Collection, photograph: Traudl Bayer
Architect Holzbauer in the landscape
Wilhelm Holzbauer travelling in Arizona, photo of travels in the USA from the archive of Traudl Bayer, 1956–1958
© Architekturzentrum Wien, Collection, photograph: Traudl Bayer
Car with passengers in front of a timber house
Wilhelm Holzbauer in a car on the tracks of Frank Lloyd Wright in Arizona, photo of travels in the USA, from the archive of Traudl Bayer, 1956–1958
© Architekturzentrum Wien, Collection, photograph: Traudl Bayer
Architect Holzbauer in the landscape
Wilhelm Holzbauer at the Grand Canyon in Arizona, photo of travels in the USA, from the archive of Traudl Bayer, 1956–1958
© Architekturzentrum Wien, Collection, photograph: Traudl Bayer
List of passengers
Passenger list of the S.S. United States Lines from 24 April 1959 with the names of Wilhelm Holzbauer and Gertraud Hutter (later: Traudl Bayer), from the archive of Traudl Bayer
© Architekturzentrum Wien, Collection
Menu card
Menu of gala dinner on 5 March 1957 on board the Queen Elizabeth, from the archive of Traudl Bayer
© Architekturzentrum Wien, Collection
Luggage tag
Luggage tag of the S.S. United States Lines, tourist class, from the archive of Traudl Bayer
© Architekturzentrum Wien, Collection

Travel memories

Wilhelm Holzbauer’s name is also found on the passenger list of the ocean liner “SS United States” which sailed on 24 April 1959 from New York to Le Havre and Southampton. During this three-year stay in America Holzbauer undertook a number of lengthy trips with his partner at that time, Traudl Bayer (then known as Gertraud Hutter), many of them to the buildings of Frank Lloyd Wright. In 2008 a number of items that recall these trips made together came to the Architekturzentrum Wien from the archive of Traudl Bayer: ship tickets, brochures, menus, but also slides and 8 mm films that offer private insights into the early years of Holzbauer’s career, before he became one of the most sought-after architects in this country.