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Schütte-Lihotzky, Margarete, 1897-2000


Biographical Note

Margaret Schutte-Lihotzky was born January 23, 1897, in Vienna, Austria. In 1915, she enrolled in what is now the Academy of Applied Arts in Vienna becoming their first female student. Studying under Oskar Strnad, a pioneer in sozialer wohnbau (social housing), Lihotzky developed a strong connection between design and functionality. In 1926, she moved to Germany where she became a member of Ernst May’s team dedicated to solving Frankfurt’s housing shortage in the late 1920s. Here Lihotzky developed her “Frankfort Kitchen” a standardized low-cost design that turned the kitchen into a laboratory with specific types of work surfaces, drawers, and cabinets for specific functions and utensils. Mass production of the kitchens began in 1927 with 10,000 of them placed in housing units throughout Frankfurt. She married Wilhelm Schutte in 1927 and the couple moved to the Soviet Union in 1930. Here and in following years her architectural work ranged from architectural designs for kindergartens to planning for heavy industry centers.

Lihotzky was noted for her political activism against Nazism. She had become a Communist Party member in the late 1930s, and in 1940 journeyed from Turkey to Austria on a clandestine mission involving Austria’s Nazi resistance. She was arrested by the Gestapo and initially sentenced to death but her sentence was converted at the last minute to 15 years in prison. At the end of the war she was released from a prison in southern Germany. An Austrian television film about her experienced, “One Minute of Darkness Does Not Make Us Blind,” was made in 1986.

After the war, Lihotzky eventually returned to Austria where she became a leader of the Federation of Democratic Women, a party that possessed close ties to the Communist Party. Due to the political environment of the Cold War her architectural career suffered because of her political affiliations and she was only able to receive a handful of commissions. However, in 1980 she received the Architecture Award of the City of Vienna, and she was offered the Austrian Medal for Science and Art in 1988. She declined the medal at the time because it was to be presented by Austrian president, Kurt Waldheim, who had been accused of suppressing his Nazi past. She accepted the award years later. Lihotzky died January 18, 2000 at the age of 102.

Found in 2 Collections and/or Records:

"Glass Ceilings: Highlights from the International Archive of Women in Architecture Center," selected exhibit panels,

Identifier: Ms-2011-075

"Glass Ceilings: Highlights from the International Archive of Women in Architecture Center" was an exhibition held at the Virginia Center for Architecture in Richmond, Virginia, as part of their Dominion Exhibition Series and was on display from March 4-June 6, 2010. It featured the work of pioneering women in architecture and design from the International Archive of Women in Architecture (IAWA) collection at Virginia Tech.

Dates: 2010

IAWA Small Collections,

Identifier: Ms-2009-054

The IAWA Small Collections was compiled from a variety of sources by Special Collections staff for use in reference and research. The collection consists primarily of biographical materials for women architects, architectural historians, and designers including curriculum vitas, firm brochures, exhibit notices, photographs, and publications. Drawings, sketches, course notes, correspondence, and other materials pertaining to architectural collections are also present.

Dates: 1907 - 2013

Additional filters:

Architects and community 1
Architectural drawings (visual works) 1
Architecture -- Study and teaching 1
History of Women in Architecture 1
Women-owned architectural firms 1