I was so sorry to hear, belatedly, of Chris's death. He was a friend and an especially close friend and fellow architectural historian of my late husband, Richard Pommer. He and Dick collaborated on an important study of the Weisenhofstiftung. He was highly intelligent as well as warm and generous. My best wishes to his wife and children. Linda Nochlin/Pommer
I just learned about Chris's death from the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians. In the mid-1980s I was a new transplant to NYC at the CUNY Graduate Center and Chris not only taught me Modern Architecture but shepherded me through an unrelated minor in Baroque Architecture--just the two of us. He was so incredibly generous, so warm, such a ray of hope in that environment.
I asked him once before a presentation he was giving if he was nervous, and he told me, "If you aren't nervous, you're probably not any good." Those words have provided me great comfort through many years. He was a wonderful man whom I always presumed I would see again. I will sincerely miss him both as a friend and exemplar.
I was in the summer CAU program a few years back where Chris introduced me to the wonders of architecture. He was an amazing teacher and person. My heartfelt condolences to Roberta and the family.
Dear Family of Christian Otto: My deepest sympathies to you in your time of loss. He was a wonderful delightful sunny person; I enjoyed having him as a professor in 1981-2. Pamela Thurber Duncan, MA 1985 HPP
May the love of friends and family carry you through your grief.
I was in his freshman history of arch. lecture course in 1974. I didn't realize that he was only 33 years old then. He was so smart, light hearted and inspiring (of course a Gemini) and one of the reasons that I stayed in Architecture for the 2nd year (and graduated). I bumped into him in NYC about 15 years ago and told him that he was one of the best Professors (and there weren't/aren't many great ones)in the Arch. school. Chris was appreciative and humble as ever. It appears that he left gracefully but too soon.
In 2008, I had the honor of studying the architecture of Vienna, Austria with Chris and a team of teachers. Chris took us on walking tours of Vienna, where every few steps, there was something interesting to learn and see about historic and contemporary architecture. I remember well our visit to Karlskirche, and our many discussions in the Schottenschift. I'll share one of my favorite photos from our time in Vienna, Karlskirche.
Please accept my condolences. Professor Otto's lectures/demonstrations on the architecture of Vienna stand among the highlights of my stay on an NEH program in 2011.
My husband and I met Chris in 2002 and in 2008 in Vienna. Chris was such a great and intelligent man to be around. So sad to hear the news. We send our heartfelt condolences.
I was a participant in the 2003 NEH Institute in Vienna. Both Chris Otto and I and a few other participants were placed in the overflow hotel, the Harmonie, because the main hotel couldn't accommodate the entire group. At first I was disappointed, but very soon felt very lucky because Chris and I had breakfast together every morning. After 2003 I was the curriculum consultant for the Mozart Institute. I was so lucky to know Chris and work with him for so many summers. He was the very prototype of a good teacher; he respected his students; he shared his knowledge and passion for learning, and he was never too busy to spend time with me and his other students to explain in more detail the finer points of his brilliant lectures and tours. Chris taught me how to read a building like a text, see it as a work of art organized in the same form as a musical composition, experience it as an integrated, coherent work of art. Chris taught me to see differently, and what greater gift can a teacher give to his students.
I've included a picture of Chris from 2008 in our classroom in the Schatten Abbey in Vienna. I would like to add more pictures, but it seems this site allows only one post per entry. I'll add more on separate posts.
I am so thankful for having had the privilege of knowing Chris Otto. In my estimation he belongs in the pantheon of the greatest of all teachers; in fact, in the pantheon of greatest of all people.
As a key faculty member in many NEH-sponsored Institutes for teachers, Chris was passionate about so many things -- helping others see the 'built environment' through his eyes, 17th- and 18th-century Viennese architecture (his heroes, Lukas Hildebrandt and Fischer von Erlach, soon became ours, along with Mozart, of course), and above all, his genuine zest for life. His enthusiasm for teaching was clear to all, and made his contributions as a faculty member in NEH Institutes so respected and valued by other faculty and participants alike. On behalf of all connected to those NEH Institutes, please accept our sympathy.
To Professor Otto's family, I send my heartfelt condolences. Though I'm not an architecture student, he welcomed me into his Modernism course this semester and I learned so much from him each week. I could barely contain my laughter, as his insightful lectures were peppered with witty jokes. It was clear that teaching was his passion, as we had no idea that he was so ill. I'm very grateful to have had the chance to be his student, if only for a short time. I'm so sorry for your loss.
Dear Roberta, Quinn, and Emma,
I have such great memores of all you 3 and Chris during the summer trip of ´07. I am deeply sorry for your loss, you are in my thoughts. Chris was such a great human being who always showed me kindness. We kept in touch after graduation and even though I knew of his condition I wasn´t prepared for his leaving. I miss him greatly.
The last time we met, you, Chris and a very young Quinn and I had dinner in one of the West Campus dining halls. I remember Chris was speaking to Quinn in German. You were all such a delightful family.
Chris gave me humanity during my time at Cornell. He was a scholar in the guise of a quirky and gentle friend.
Please know that I am thinking of you and your family.
We are so deeply sorry to hear about Chris' passing. Please know that you are in our thoughts. I have fond memories of Chris at all those Montessori events.
Erla, David, Annali and Dianne
Dear Roberta and Family:
Our deepest sympathy to the entire family.
Martha Frommelt and
the Fine Arts Booster Group
Chris was such a wonderful person with an open, loving heart--always caring for his students and supportive of them. Being my "Doktorvater" and greatest mentor, his contributions to my growing as a scholar are very precious. I will always remember him with his generosity and his way of connecting to people and life out of his heart. I am very upset about losing him. Dear Roberta, please accept my deepest condolences. My heart goes with all the family, especially Emma, Quinn, Jon and Tamara. I am thinking of you all.
I am so sorry to know Professor Otto's pass away. He is always a supportive and inspiring teacher in my life-long education (not just architecture). I wasn't his best students at Cornell. Coming from a low income immigrant family, Professor Otto had helped me to obtain enough financial aid to take his summer European Architectural Studio in 2005. His knowledge in history and in arts is the same as in architecture. After my undergraduate education, Professor Otto's wrote me two recommendations for my graduate school application despite of his busy schedule. He is someone who is always on time, always prepared, always reliable and always inspiring in a humble way….
Professor Otto, you will be missed and thank you so much for being my teacher…
My condolence to Professor Otto's family.
Shang Y. L. Chen
Roberta, Emma and Quinn, I was very sad to read about Chris's passing on Cornell's website today. He was such a quirky, delightful person. We will all miss him. Stay strong.
May you find peace and comfort during these difficult times. Isa. 61:2
It was always a pleasure to see Chris, our neighbor, on some project in the backyard with Quinn or saying hello to Jane or Dudley. We'll miss him.
What a lovely tribute to such a good and decent man. My condolences to Quinn and Emma in the loss of their Dad and to Roberta in the loss of Chris as her partner and friend in life and career.Condolences to his other children, Jon and Tamara whom I did not have the pleasure of meeting
Chris was truly a gifted teacher in every sense of the word. Softspoken, always with a smile and his really good mind was so applied to the creative and the thoughtful view of the world as well as his projects and classes. A life well lived brought to close prematurely. Love to all of the family, Suzanne
Simply put, I would not be where I am today, an active scholar and university professor, were it not for Chris's unflagging support, careful mentoring, and inspiring instruction. He was a model for me of what it means to be a contributing member of academia. And though I will never meet up to his high standards of excellent, his work as a teacher and thinker remain standards to which I continually aspire. To the members of his family, and especially Roberta, our time with Chris at Cornell was magical. Please accept my most heartfelt condolences.
I am shocked. This was the man who more than anyone else taught me how to teach, and this is the one thing that I am sure I can do. I thought I would enjoy a good conversation with him again sometime soon. He will be missed. I am thinking of you Roberta, Emma, and Quinn.
It's my lucky to take Chris' class in the past year. His spirit, kindness, and attitude toward his career will not never decay.
Just read about the passing of Chris.
I am so sorry.. I am also sorry I didn't visit more often. I guess " The world is too much with us " as it were.
I am now retired from IC . If you need anything ..anything.. feel free to call me.
John Stephens.... Still at the farm in Spencer...
I am very sorry to hear of your loss Roberta. Chris was a wonderful person and I loved having you both as neighbors. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.
kim, al, dylan, alyssa and kyra budd
One of the very, very best! It was a pleasure and an honor being his student 20-some years ago. Very sorry, Roberta...
Thank you Otto, you were a wonderful man and professor. You will be missed, rest in peace.