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Short biography
Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky was born to a middle-class family in Vienna, Austria. Despite society's prejudice against women in the professions, including architecture, in 1915 she became the first female student at the Kunstgewerbeschule -- the present-day University of Applied Arts -- and won prizes for her designs even before graduation. She became deeply committed to social welfare and to improving public housing for the poor and working people. She became the only woman in the "New Frankfurt" design team in 1925. Today she is best known as the designer of the so-called Frankfurt Kitchen, built in the hundreds for the Frankfurt settlements, but also designed electric laundries and single-women’s housing. In Frankfurt she met and married colleague Wilhelm Schütte. In 1930, they went to the Soviet Union with the "May Brigade," which designed whole cities. Expelled from the USSR by Stalin in 1937, she and her husband moved on to Paris, then Turkey. She joined the Communist Party and returned to Vienna in 1940 to work for the Resistance during World War II. She was caught by the Gestapo and sentenced to 15 years in prison; she survived there nearly 5 years and was released at the end of the war. Shunned by the Austrian establishment because she was a Communist, she took jobs consulting for housing projects in East Germany, China, and Cuba. Today she is considered an architectural pioneer as well as one of the most remarkable Austrian women of the 20th century. Late in life, she received many awards, including a medal for her peace work, another for her work in the Resistance, and the Architecture Award of the City of Vienna in 1980. She published an autobiography in two volumes, Erinnerungen aus dem Widerstand (Memories from the Resistance, 1985) and also wrote a shorter memoir, Warum ich Architektin wurde (Why I Became an Architect). Austrian television made a 1986 film based on her life, ''One Minute of Darkness Does Not Make Us Blind."
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