German architect. One of the most important German architects of the the Renaissance, he was city architect (master Builder) of Augsburg (1602–35), at a time when Augsburg was the largest city in Germany. It is for his Augsburg building programme (which included schools, guildhalls, warehouses, houses, and city gates) that he is known, although he also executed commissions outside the city. His most acclaimed building is the town hall (1615–20), which combines classical and Germanic styles.
Holl's most characteristic designs are based on a primarily functional approach, and on the principles of symmetry and fine proportions – in fact, a restrained classicism, almost severe in its lack of elaborate detailing. This style can be seen particularly in St Anne's grammar school (1613–15), and in his town hall. The town hall is noted for its combination of classical, Germanic, and other features (such as onion domes), the result being a very plain, functional, but sensitively proportioned building.
Holl was born into a prominent Augsburg family of masons. He visited Venice briefly (1600–01) and some Palladian influence is to be seen in his work. His first building as city architect of Augsburg was the arsenal (1602–07), carrying out a design by Joseph Heintz. Here the style was Mannerist verging on baroque, especially in the sculpture erected over the portal.
Holl's career reflects the fate of Renaissance architecture in Germany, being brought to an abrupt close by the Counter-Reformation and the Thirty Years' War. Along with 8,000 Augsburg citizens, Holl went into temporary exile when Protestant worship was forbidden in the city in 1629. In 1635 his Protestantism finally lost him his post.