Hermann Pundt, 73, architecture professor
Seattle Times staff reporter
For more than 30 years, Hermann Pundt reminded classes full of eager, ambitious architecture students at the University of Washington that preserving treasures of the past is as important as fashioning styles for the future.
"He had a way with his lectures of getting you right in the gut with what he valued most," says Alan Maskin, a Seattle architect who was a student and teaching assistant for Mr. Pundt in the mid- to late 1980s.
Mr. Pundt, a UW professor emeritus in both the departments of architecture and art history, died Sunday (Sept. 17) at his sister's house in Donauwerth, Germany. He was 73.
"He was a humanist and a romantic at heart," says Ed Weinstein of Weinstein Copeland Architects in Seattle. Weinstein graduated from the UW in 1971.
Former students and colleagues describe him as a devoted teacher with an unbridled passion for architecture. Mr. Pundt won the prestigious UW Distinguished Teaching Award in 1992, chosen from among all faculty members of his rank.
In the same year, Germany presented him with its Civic Order of Merit, First Class, another major honor. Mr. Pundt is recognized internationally as a pre-eminent scholar of 19th century Prussian architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel.
Mr. Pundt also worked to preserve buildings of U.S. architects Frank Lloyd Wright and Louis Sullivan in Chicago.
Mr. Pundt, who was raised in Germany, was less of an activist and more of a teacher during his 32 years at the UW. He retired in June 1996 but continued to teach classes, living modestly in a tiny apartment in the University District.
Katrina Deines, a UW associate professor of architecture, was among several students who accompanied Mr. Pundt on a trip to Europe in 1977 for the conference of the International Council on Monuments and Sites, a conservation group for which he was a delegate.
"I saw people cry when they met him," she says. "He was such a hero to them, especially in East Germany."
Maskin, an associate with Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen Architects, recalls a particularly poignant lecture in which Mr. Pundt would describe in detail the destruction of stunningly beautiful architecture during the Allied bombing of Dresden during World War II. In another, he showed slides of his adventure as a gate crasher during the memorial service for Frank Lloyd Wright.
"He would take it on as a mission to convey the importance of conservation to his students," Maskin says. "As an instructor, he would make his points in very vivid ways and make it all very personal."
Deines says Mr. Pundt provided the perspective of someone both well-cultured and well-educated. He received a doctorate from Harvard University's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in 1969.
"As a colleague, he was always very gentlemanly," she says. "You could even say courtly."
Mr. Pundt was close to the late Victor Steinbrueck, a UW architecture professor active in preserving the Pike Place Market. Steinbrueck's son, Seattle City Councilman Peter Steinbrueck, says the two men shared similar values.
Mr. Pundt "had an immense appreciation for the legacy that architecture has left us," says Steinbrueck, who also was one of Mr. Pundt's students.
"He imparted in his students a worldly perspective about the true and enduring greatness of architecture and the cultures that produced it. He showed us that the two were inextricably tied.
"He didn't teach architecture in the abstract. That's what made his lectures so enthralling."
Services are next Saturday at an undetermined time and site on the UW campus. Call 206-685-3751 for exact location and time.
Stuart Eskenazi's phone message number is 206-464-2293. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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