Before 1808, when the Building School at the Academy of Arts in Munich was founded, there was no academic training for architects in Bavaria. The first teacher of what was then called “Baukunst” – the art of building – was the young Carl von Fischer, who had been appointed in 1806 at the age of 24.

The Academy’s resistance to embrace industrialization and technology led in 1833 to the founding of a new polytechnic school in Munich. Up until the 1850s there was no division between the training of architects and civil engineers. With the introduction of the state examination for “Civil building engineers” the architectural training in Munich began to change, culminating in the founding of the “New Polytechnic School” – which is now the TU München – in 1868 and the closure of the Building School at the Academy in 1873.

At the ‘New Polytechnic School’, renamed 'Technical College' in 1877, for the first time in Bavarian history that architects and engineers were trained separately. The four professors: Gottfried von Neureuther (Higher Architecture), Rudolf Gottgetreu (Construction), Albert Geul (Civil Engineering) and Joseph Mozet (Drawing) along with the sculptor Conrad Knoll and August Thiersch, as the only assistant, taught at the 'Structural Engineering College'. The number of students of Architecture rose from 18 to 161 between 1868 and 1878. The most influential lecturer was Gottfried von Neureuther, who focussed on the language of design of the Italian Renaissance for his architectural concepts. 

A new building to house the “New Polytechnic School” was erected between 1864 and 1868, designed by Gottfried von Neureuther. Built directly opposite the Alte Pinakothek in the Neo-Renaissance style with a magnificent central section flanked by set-back wings, it was modelled after Gottfried Semper’s Polytechnikum in Zurich (today the ETH Zurich). The site, a 90-meter-long stretch of the Arcisstrasse, amounted to less than half of what is now the university’s main site, bounded by the Arcis-, Theresien-, Luisen-, and Gabelsbergerstrasse. Today, all that remains of this building, most of which was destroyed during the second world war, is fragments of the ground floor on the Gabelsbergerstrasse and in the courtyard behind the “Bestelmeyer Building” (South).

The appointment of the 27-year-old Friedrich von Thiersch as adjunct Professor of Architecture and second lecturer alongside Neureuther in 1879 marked the beginning of a continual expansion and enhancement of the Munich-based Department of Architecture. By the outbreak of World War I the number of Chairs for Architectural Design had risen to four. Besides Thiersch, who succeeded Neureuther in 1882 and likewise represented the Renaissance style of architecture, other lecturers included Heinrich von Schmidt, who taught Medieval Architecture from 1883 onwards, Carl Hocheder, who favoured the Munich Baroque style of civil architecture (from 1904) and Theodor Fischer, who specialized in Design and Urban Planning (from 1908 onwards) with a strong orientation towards regional building traditions. Thanks to the enormous success of Thiersch and Theodor Fischer in their capacity as architects and their flair as lecturers, the reputation of Munich's architectural education flourished. When the number of students increased to almost 600, the Munich School of Architecture even overtook the Technische Hochschule in Charlottenburg as the leading university in this field. Acclaimed architects like Max Berg, Ernst May, O.R. Salvisberg or Heinrich Tessenow learned their skills from Thiersch, while many subsequent supporters of Contemporary Architecture, such as Hugo Häring and Erich Mendelsohn, studied under the auspices of Theodor Fischer. In 1905, also during the era of Friedrich von Thiersch, women were first granted permission to study in Bavaria.

From 1910 to 1916, Thiersch also undertook the first major extension of the polytechnic buildings, erecting a three-story wing along the Gabelsberger- and Luisenstrasse on the southwest section of the site along with a connector to the existing building and an L-shaped complex with tower, which today remains the dominant landmark of the TUM. On the second story of the wing along the Gabelsbergerstrasse, Thiersch planned a sequence of grand rooms to house the library and the architecture department’s drawings collection. Employing the technology of the day, the reinforced concrete floor was additionally strengthened with steel beams to allow the dividing walls to be shifted, so that the spaces could be adapted to changing needs.

Following World War I, the ‘Schools of Style’ were gradually transformed into ‘Schools of Construction’. From 1924 onwards, a 24-month period of practical building experience became compulsory in Munich. The construction side of the training was given a significant boost when Hocheder's ‘Civil Architecture’ was converted into a Chair for ‘Technical and Health-Conscious Civil and Industrial Building Practice', held by Richard Schachner, and the setting-up of a second Chair for Structural Engineering.

Tuition at the Department of Architecture was largely influenced in the 1920s by the conservative German Bestelmeyer, Friedrich von Thiersch's successor. Studying Architecture in Munich lost its reputation and appeal and the number of students went into decline. It was not until 1930 that the Department became receptive to modern architectural concepts due to the appointment of Cologne's Town Planning Director, Adolf Abel, and Robert Vorhölzer, who had made a name for himself with his post-office buildings.

From 1923–26, on the remaining vacant areas along the Arcisstrasse, Bestelmeyer extended Neureuther’s original building with two new projecting wings, following the pattern of an Italian Palazzo. This new representative entrance courtyard was flanked with two “Horse Tamer” statues by the sculptors Bernhard Bleeker and Hermann Hahn.

When the National Socialists seized power, this had serious repercussions on the teaching staff and tuition. The most dominant figure at the Department of Architecture, German Bestelmeyer, who had been a member of the 'Combat League for German Culture' since 1930, played a decisive role in almost all the changes introduced in the 1930s. The only modernist lecturer, Robert Vorhölzer, was branded a ‘Building Bolshevik' and dismissed as early as 1933; Roderich Fick, a conservative architect who conformed to the political landscape, became his successor in 1936. When Bestelmeyer died in 1942, Julius Schulte-Frohlinde – one of the leading National Socialist architects – was appointed. As opposed to the ‘Stuttgart School’, however, the Department of Architecture in Munich did not have any special significance during the Nazi era.

A plan to relocate the entire university to Nymphenberg to make way for buildings for the National Socialist Party never came to pass.

The Technical University took up its teaching function again in the summer of 1946. The total number of students of Architecture rose from 680 in 1950 to 850 in 1968. Adolf Abel and Hans Döllgast resumed their lectures, and Vorhölzer returned to his Chair and organized the rebuilding of the university. Martin Elsässer and Hermann Leitenstorfer were appointed for Architectural Design and Franz Hart and Georg Werner for Structural Engineering. The most outstanding figure of the early post-war period was Hans Döllgast, who had united all the graphics and design subjects in his Department since 1941. The teaching of Architectural Design was characterized by headstrong individuals right up to the 1970s: from the mid-Fifties onwards, Gerhard Weber and Gustav Hassenpflug, both reputed stalwarts of the Bauhaus style, supported aspects of modern architecture at the university from the mid-1950s onwards; Josef Wiedemann and Johannes Ludwig stood for a more moderate style of modern architecture.

In 1952, an urban design competition was held for the area directly north of the main site on the other side of the Theresienstrasse. The winning concept by Werner Eichberg proposed separating the research facilities from the buildings for teaching. Shortly after work had begun, the first new buildings to south of the Gabelsbergerstrasse were also erected, mostly notably a building for Technical Physics (now the LMU). From 1957–1959, Franz Hart built the refectory building (Mensa) on the so-called south site along the Arcisstrasse. This was later extended in 1975 to twice its original size using the same quadratic structural grid.

From 1946 to 1968 the number of Chairs rose from 10 to 17, and the number of Chairs in Architectural Design increased from four to six. There was an increase in the number of students from 850 to 1300 between 1968 and 1993. The theoretical discussions of the 1968 ‘student revolts’ led to a Chair in Introduction to Design being set up. When the Conditions of Study were revised in 1991, the subject 'Introduction to Design' was dropped in favour of the Concept of a Structural Design as a perspective for the 1990s, instead. The main focus and strength of the Munich School of Architecture remained the sound, structurally well-founded Architectural Design qualification program.

In 1968, Johannes Ludwig added two new storeys to Vorhoelzer’s two-story administration building on the Arcisstrasse. In the late 1970s, the demolition of a few obsolete structures freed up space in the cramped interior courtyard of the university. A competition followed to consolidate the university site, won by Rudolf Wienands, who between 1990 and 1994 created an internal passageway with a central space in front of a set-back institute building and an auditorium building which opens in segments onto the new heart of the university.

In the 1990s, the Department honed its profile and improved its reputation by appointing several internationally recognized architects to Chairs in Architectural Design. The establishment of a Technology Center and the Architekturmuseum served to reinforce the constructive/technical and the historical focus of the Department respectively.

Following the “Bologna Declaration” in 1999 and the ensuing educational reforms in 2002 at the TU München, internationally comparable Bachelor and Master study programs were introduced. This systematic process of internationalization is part of the architecture Department’s strategic development objectives: a special feature of the Department’s Bachelor study programs – unique among architecture schools in Europe – is a year spent studying abroad in the third year of studies. Since 2008, the Department of Architecture has expanded its contacts with other universities around the world considerably.

Since Wienands’ last major structural development of the university’s main site in the mid–1990s, the university has continued to adapt its facilities to make it an increasingly attractive place to study. In 2010, the so-called Vorhoelzer Forum was created as part of a roof-top conversion on the main building. In 2011, the main entrance on the Arcisstrasse was redesigned and a new wayfinding system implemented.

Summary after
Winfried Nerdinger in collaboration with Katharina Bloch (ed.), Architekturschule München 1968-1993. 125 Jahre Technische Universität München, München 1993 
Winfried Nerdinger (ed.), Aufbauzeit. Planen und Bauen, München 1945-1950 (Ausst. Kat. Stadtmuseum München 1984), München 1984
Wolfgang A. Herrmann (ed.), Technischen Universität München. Die Geschichte eines Wissenschaftsunternehmens, München/Berlin 2006
Franz Hart, Die Bauten, in: Technische Hochschule München (Hrsg.), Technische Hochschule München 1868-1968, München 1986, S. 135-179