Hermine Frühwirth was born in Vienna on 30 March 1909, daughter of bank official Theodor Frühwirth. After attending the girls’ secondary school in Vienna 8, Albertgasse 38, she passed her school-leaving examination with distinction on 18 June 1928.
From 1928-1935 she studied architecture at the Technische Hochschule (Technical University) in Vienna. She passed the 1st State Examination on 18 February 1931 and the 2nd State Examination on 30 March 1933, both with the grade ‘very good’. Hermine Frühwirth attended the art history seminar with Professor Moritz Dreger for the following three semesters and was the only woman to attend this seminar in the mid-1930s. In her doctoral dissertation, ‘Wiener Profanbauten aus der Zeit Maria Theresias und Josef II‘ (‘Viennese Profane Buildings from the Time of Maria Theresa and Joseph II’), she produced an architectural history study that dealt with Viennese profane buildings of the later 18th century. Hermine Frühwirth received her doctorate in technical sciences with honours on 14 December 1935, making her the second female doctoral candidate at the Technische Hochschule Wien.
Hermine Frühwirth began her professional practice shortly after her second semester of architectural studies, in the summer of 1929. She worked in the architectural office of Hans Prutscher, who attested to her ‘uncommonly accurate representation’ in her drawing.
In 1933 she took part in the competition for the reconstruction of the Vienna Reichsbrücke. For this, her design was ‘awarded a prize’. Throughout her doctoral studies (July 1933 to December 1935) she worked in the studio of the architect Erwin Böck, as an unpaid assistant. Together with Erwin Böck, she implemented two major projects during this time: the reconstruction of Dürnstein Castle and a development plan for the Brentenmais settlement. After receiving her doctorate, she became an independent employee of Erwin Böck and, at the beginning of 1936, an external member of the Zentralvereinigung der Architekten Österreichs (Central Association of Austrian Architects).
In the same year she took part in several competitions in collaboration with Erwin Böck: the competition for the construction of Ravag, the redesign and regulation of Votivkirchenplatz and the reconstruction of Vienna’s Westbahnhof. Together they designed several private residential buildings in Vienna and Lower Austria and a housing estate for the Union-Baugesellschaft in Atzgersdorf, until Hermine Frühwirth decided to become an independent architect in 1938. During this time, she planned several residential buildings and facilities. After ten months of self-employment, she gave it up again and entered the service of the then Reichspostdirektion as a technical employee on 1 October 1938. Her tasks included the planning and construction management of various service buildings and post offices, as well as the furnishing of service apartments, representation rooms and homes.
From 26 September 1945, she worked for the Österreichische Post- und Telegraphenverwaltung (Austrian Postal and Telegraph Administration) as a consultant and was entrusted with the project planning of high-rise buildings and interior furnishings. She was responsible for the locations Vienna, Graz, Innsbruck, Klagenfurt and Linz and was involved in budget preparation.
On 1 January 1964, she was transferred to the new department for building construction, which had been created during an organisational change at the General Postal Directorate, and she took over its management on 1 January 1965.
In the course of her career, Dipl. Ing. Dr. techn. Hermine Frühwirth held numerous positions, up to the rank of Ministerialrätin (Undersecretary). After 36 years of service, she retired on 31 December 1974. On 1 January 1975, she was awarded the Große Silberne Ehrenabzeichen (Great Silver Badge of Honour) for services to the Republic of Austria.
1933 Competition for the reconstruction of the Reichsbrücke in Vienna
1936 Competition for the construction of the Ravag (with Erwin Böck)
1936 Competition for the redesign and regulation of the Votivkirchenplatz (with Erwin Böck) (3rd place)
1936 Competition for the reconstruction of the Vienna Westbahnhof (with Erwin Böck)
AT TUWA main catalog 1928/1929, Hermine Frühwirth Matr. No. 456-1928/39
Juliane Mikoletzky, Ute Georgeacopol-Winischhofer, Margit Pohl: ‘Dem Zuge der Zeit entsprechend …’ Zur Geschichte des Frauenstudiums in Österreich am Beispiel der Technischen Universität Wien, WUV-Universitätsverlag Wien, 1997.
Ute Georgeaocpol-Winischhofer: Hermine Frühwirth, In: Brigitta Keintzel/ Ilse Korotin, Wissenschafterinnen in und aus Österreich / Leben – Werk – Wirken, Böhlau Verlag Wien / Köln / Weimar 2002, pp. 216-217.
Award-winning Viennese Women. In: Die Österreicherin, Jg. 6, Vienna, June 1933, p.4
ÖStA, Archives of the Republic, Hermine Frühwirth, Application for a Medal of Honor
Photo: Archive of the TU Wien
Text: Carmen Trifina