Steindl, Imre

(Pest, October 29th, 1839 – Budapest, August 31st, 1902)

One of the most original creative architects of eclectic-Neo-Gothic architecture; his life-work, the Houses of Parliament is worthy of winning world recognition as the symbol of the capital city of Hungary.

He obtained his qualifications in architecture at the Technical University Web link and the Academy of Fine Arts of Vienna. Web link His professor was Friedrich Schmidt who had worked previously on building of the Cologne cathedral and was an devoted master of the Neo-Gothic style. Imre Steindl also be came devoted to medieval arts here and his Neo-Gothic designing practice derived from it.

Steindl returned home from Vienna in 1868 and in 1870 he became professor of the József Polytechnic where he lectured on architectural design.

He made a Neo-Gothic plan for the New City Hall (Budapest, district V, Váci u. 52-64.), but in accordance with the general assembly's decision the facade had to be replanned in the prevailing Neo-Renaissance style while keeping the ground-plans. The beautiful cast iron Neo-Gothic staircase, however, could be kept.

Yielding to the Neo-Renaissance taste of the era he constructed the buildings of the Veterinary College in a pavilion block system with a facade of red and yellowish white pressed bricks (1882). The building of the former Technical University in Budapest, Múzeum körút 6-8. was also built in Neo-Renaissance style. The ornamental terra-cotta elements used here in the architecture of pressed bricks (products of the Zsolnay Factory) Web link are also characteristic of his buildings.

Steindl made the plans of the St. Elizabeth church on the Square of Roses (Budapest, District VII.).

He did not have to give up his devotion to Middle Ages either, he had the opportunity to restore the most significant medieval buildings of Hungary, e.g. the Vajdahunyad castle. His most important work as a restorer was the restoration of the Cathedral of Kassa. In the course of all this work he learnt everything that Hungarian Gothic style could teach him, and in his later period he turned almost entirely towards the Gothic style which is demonstrated well by the Houses of Parliament. His tender plan of the Reichstag prepared in 1872 is worth mentioning, because the prefiguration of the dome of the Houses of Parliament appears in the plan.

Due to his professional knowledge and his experience he won the commission of planning his life-work, the Houses of Parliament (1883-1903). The Houses of Parliament, Web link considering both its situation and its imposing appearance, can be surely regarded as one of the most beautiful Houses of Parliament in Europe. Its floor plan is clear, its mass formation reflects the internal content unambiguously. The monumental building is a lucky mixture of Gothic, Baroque and fantasy-born elements. Its dynamic and richly serrated contour is one of the characteristic sights of Budapest.

Memberships: Royal Institute of British Architects, member of the Hungarian Academy of Science (1899).

Honours: Gundel prize II (1864 Vienna, Academy of Fine Arts), Füger prize (1866 Vienna, Academy of Fine Arts) Pro Litterie at Artibus order, knight's cross of the Francis Joseph order.