Martin Wagner (1885–1957 · architect / town planner)

Born in 1885 in Königsburg, East Prussia (today Kaliningrad), Wagner was an outstanding political organizer and networker. Along with Bruno Taut, who also came from Königsburg, Wagner is considered the second key figure in the construction of Berlin’s housing estates. From 1905 to 1910 he studied architecture, urban planning and economics. In 1911, he became head of the building construction office in the town of Rüstringen (now part of Wilhelmshaven), a position he held for almost four years. In 1915, he received his doctorate in Berlin. The dedicated Social Democrat was appointed municipal planner for Berlin-Schöneberg in 1918 and quickly made a name for himself with the Lindenhof housing estate, which he planned with Leberecht Migge and Bruno Taut. A political mastermind with great foresight, Wagner created the logistical and political foundations of the New Building movement in Berlin. He was a co-founder of the architecture magazine Deutsche Bauhütte, initiated the founding of housing company GEHAG and acted as managing director of various influential associations. As the second architect of the Horseshoe Estate, where he was initially responsible for designing the row of houses on Stavenhagener Strasse, Wagner was appointed in 1926 as building director for Greater Berlin, an amalgamation of municipalities created in 1920. In this role he initiated and participated in many key projects for the up-and-coming metropolis. Apart from the construction of housing estates, these projects included the expansion of the underground railway network, the rebuilding of Alexanderplatz, the design of Wannsee beach and of Charlottenburg’s exhibition grounds. In 1933 Wagner went into exile under pressure from the National Socialists, first to Turkey than to the United States in 1938. A year later he became a professor of urban planning at Harvard University.