Dr. Mertins, Architecture

Dr. Detlef Mertins, professor of architecture at PennDesign, died on January 13, 2011. He was 56 years old.

Well-known for his research focusing on the history and theory of modernism in architecture, art, philosophy and urbanism, Dr. Mertins was a pivotal figure in architectural education. “Detlef’s extraordinary contributions to PennDesign, to us collectively and individually, and to the fields of architecture history and theory are of immense and lasting value,” said PennDesign Dean Marilyn Jordan Taylor. “The loss of his presence among us is immeasurable and, at this moment, impossible to grasp.”

Dr. Mertins joined the School of Design in 2003 as a full professor, also serving as chair of the department of architecture through 2008.

Prior to joining PennDesign, Dr. Mertins taught architectural history, theory and supervised doctoral research at the University of Toronto (1991–2003), where he held the Canada Research Chair in Architecture (2001-2003), the Konrad Adenauer Research Prize of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and Royal Canadian Society (2003), and a Visiting Scholar Fellowship at the Canadian Centre for Architecture (1998).

Dr. Mertins was a leading scholar on the history of modernism, particularly those that revisited the pioneering work of the German Modernist Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. His books included the English edition of Walter Curt Behrendt’s The Victory of the New Building Style, The Presence of Mies, and Metropolitan Mutations: The Architecture of Emerging Public Spaces. He also authored numerous essays in scholarly journals and anthologies as well as critical writings on contemporary architecture.

Dr. Mertins held a BArch from the University of Toronto (1980), and both an MA (1991) and PhD (1996) from Princeton University.

PennDesign is planning The Detlef Mertins Fellowship that commemorates and celebrates the leadership and scholarship of Dr. Mertins. Friends, colleagues and former students who wish to contribute to this fellowship to honor Dr. Mertins may contact pdalumni@design.upenn.edu. A memorial service is being planned for later in the spring semester.