Life and career
Bonatz was born in Solgne, Alsace-Lorraine, then German Empire. In 1900, he finished his studies of architecture at the Technical University of Munich. He trained under Theodor Fischer, but unlike Fischer, did not join the Nazi party, and had actually briefly belonged to the SPD. After building several major buildings during the Weimar Republic, notably the Stuttgart Hauptbahnhof (main station, 1913–1927), after the Nazis came to power he became architectural expert and advisor to Fritz Todt, the general inspector for German road building, and in this position built major bridges for the new Reichsautobahn system and with Hermann Giesler worked on the design for a planned new main station for Munich.
The government tried to make good use of Bonatz's talents and name, but found him politically unreliable. He disliked Paul Troost's renovation of the Königsplatz in Munich and said so, a political mistake. In February 1935 he gave a speech inveighing against architecture which made "the act of representing an end in itself" rather than form coinciding with function in which he called Albert Speer's New Reich Chancellery "patently inadequate". Because of his vocal opinions, Bonatz was investigated twice by the police, who accused him of aiding Jews and being openly critical of Hitler.
Although he won the competition to execute the gigantic glass dome for the new main station in Munich, he soon became disenchanted with Hitler's requiring the dome and critical of the entire design. This led him to leave Germany for Turkey in 1943. He was a faculty member at the Istanbul Technical University from 1946 to 1954 and oversaw renovation of the university's Taşkışla campus. While in Turkey he built many projects in Ankara, including a residential area with over 400 units and the reconfiguration of the Ankara Exhibition Hall into the Ankara Opera House, before returning to Germany in 1954 to participate in the reconstruction of Stuttgart and Düsseldorf. He was a professor at the University of Stuttgart from 1954 until his death in 1956.