The roots of today's Institute of Lightweight Structures and Design at the University of Stuttgart go back to the beginning of the 20th century. In 1916, Emil Mörsch was appointed to the chair of statics, reinforced concrete construction and arched bridges at the TU Stuttgart, where he was one of the first to comprehensively develop the fundamentals for the theory of reinforced concrete. Emil Mörsch and the chair at the university were soon regarded as world leaders.
Deininger's successor in turn, Fritz Leonhardt, was for many years considered the world's leading engineer in the field of reinforced and prestressed concrete, as well as in the areas of bridge construction and the construction of towers. Fritz Leonhardt's books were translated into many languages and found worldwide circulation, as did his lecture notes, the famous so-called "Red Books".
On his initiative, the Institute for Lightweight Structures (IL) was founded in 1964 and Frei Otto was appointed its director. With his interdisciplinary research and teaching in the field of wide-span surface structures and natural constructions, he developed the IL into a globally recognised centre of lightweight construction by 1991. In 2015, Frei Otto was awarded with the Pritzker Prize.
After the retirement of Fritz Leonhardt, Prof. Dr.-Ing. Jörg Schlaich shaped the further development of the institute in a fundamental way for a quarter of a century. Key features of his work were the introduction of cross-material design and construction and, together with Werner Sobek, the introduction of design into the education of students.
Werner Sobek, a student of Jörg Schlaich, finally succeeded him in 2001 as head of the Institute for Design and Construction II, which he merged with the Institute for Lightweight Structures, of which he has been the head since 1995, to form the Institute for Lightweight Design and Construction. Thus, for the first time in two centuries, the disciplines of architecture and structural engineering were again combined in one chair. With the merger, Werner Sobek not only set a new course, but also led ILEK to worldwide recognition in the years that followed.