Otto Bauer-Nilsen

July 10, 1926 - January 14, 2020

Otto Bauer-Nilsen passed away suddenly at Cypress Cove, a retirement community in Fort Myers, Florida on the evening of January 14, 2020 at the age of 93.

Otto was born on July 10, 1926 in Haugesund, Norway to August and Louise Bauer-Nilsen, now deceased. He was raised in Haugesund where his father co-owned Bauer Hydraulics, a shipping industry hydraulics manufacturer with his two brothers.  Otto was a Sargent in the Norwegian underground army during the Nazi occupation and was in charge of Nazi prisoners of war after the surrender. 

After World War II, at the age of 19, Otto immigrated to the USA to study architecture at the University of Cincinnati.  Otto lived with his cousin Dorthea Peterson whose parents had immigrated to the USA at the turn of the century.  Otto graduated Magna Cum Laude in 1950 and returned to Norway where he got a job with the City of Stavanger in the City Planning Department. 

On December 10, 1950 Otto married Kari Aune-Iversen.  Son Fredrick was born in Stavanger late that summer. The family soon moved back to Cincinnati where Otto took a teaching job at the University of Cincinnati School of Architecture and daughter Elizabeth was born in early 1953.  The family then moved to Cleveland, Ohio where Otto took a job in an architectural firm and son August was born in the summer of 1955. The family moved again to Birmingham, Alabama where Otto took a job with a real estate development firm and Otto, Jr. was born in early 1957. 

The family moved one last time back to Cincinnati, Ohio where Otto returned to the University of Cincinnati and soon co-founded the architectural firm of Gartner, Burdick and Bauer-Nilsen in 1958.  The family first lived in the neighborhood of Hyde Park and then moved to the Village of Indian Hill in 1961. The architectural firm thrived in the 60s, 70s and 80s where Otto received over twenty-five design excellence awards from the American Institute of Architects. 

Otto and Kari bought a 125 acre farm in Pike County, Ohio in 1970 as a second home and working farm.  The farm remains in the family. Otto religiously returned to Cincinnati to be with family at Christmas and to the Pike County Farm for the annual family picnic on Memorial Day.

Otto split with Gartner, Burdick and Bauer-Nilsen in 1984 started a second firm, Englehard / Bauer-Nilsen until his retirement in 1993.

Otto & Kari moved from Indian Hill and split time between the Pike County Farm and a new house in Cape Coral, Florida. Soon after Kari died in 2004, Otto moved to Cypress Cove a retirement community in Fort Myers, Florida where he was active in the art, model sail boating, water aerobics and bocce ball programs. 

Otto was a board member of the Village of Indian Hill Planning commission for over 30 years, a board member and master juror for the State Board of Architects of Ohio for over 25 years, a board member of the National Architectural Accrediting Board, a member of the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards and a member of the American Institute of Architects.  Otto was a prolific artist, sculptor and musician.

Otto was preceded in death by his beloved wife, Kari Bauer-Nilsen in 2004; as well as a son, August Bauer-Nilsen in 2014. Otto is survived by three children: Fredrick Bauer-Nilsen (Jeanne) of Cincinnati, OH,  Elizabeth B.-N. Sanders (Randall) of Columbus, OH, Otto Bauer-Nilsen, Jr. (Janet) of Cincinnati, OH as well as eight grandchildren: Adam Sanders (Alane), Andrew Bauer-Nilsen (Marcella), Maxwell Bauer-Nilsen, Sarah Bauer-Nilsen, Bobby Bauer-Nilsen, Emma Sanders Hoster (Barret), Kristine Bauer-Nilsen, Olivia Bauer-Nilsen and three great grandchildren: Owen Sanders, Brady Bauer-Nilsen and Leah Sanders.

No formal services are planned at this time.

Memorial contributions in memory of Otto Bauer-Nilsen, Sr. are suggested to (Doctors Without Borders USA, PO Box 5030, Hagerstown, MD 21741-5030).

Mullins Memorial Funeral Home & Cremation Service, Fort Myers, is entrusted with final care.


  1. Liz Sanders Jan 20, 2020 at 12:55 pm

    Goodbye, Dad! Your piano is on its way to Marietta OH for your great grandchildren to play.

  2. Adam Sanders Jan 20, 2020 at 1:48 pm

    We will cherish the wonderful memories we have and think of him often! With Love Adam, Alane, Owen, and Leah

  3. Adam Sanders Jan 20, 2020 at 1:50 pm

    With the Great Grandchildren in 2013

  4. Emma Jan 20, 2020 at 4:52 pm

    Farewell, Morfar! Thank you again for hosting us last October – we really enjoyed it!!

    Emma & Barret

  5. Max Bauer-Nilsen Jan 20, 2020 at 11:17 pm

    Goodbye, Farfar. Thank you for always being a strong staple in our family. You will be missed by many.


  6. voss finn Jan 21, 2020 at 3:10 pm

    What a joy it was to know the patriarch of the Bauer-Nilsens. Such a pillar will be sorely missed. At 93 he was a rich repository of much wisdom, aesthetics, and humble dignity. A touchstone – now fallen from reach; returned to the depths of the creative well from where he drew.

  7. Karen Gay Koetzle Jan 22, 2020 at 7:50 am

    Otto was a huge part of my dad’s (Lee ) life. From the time I was a little girl in the 50’s. I treasured his painting that hung in our living room next to our piano. And I have had the opportunity to see more of his paintings by knowing Min. Blessings to your family as you hold his wonderful memories close to your heart.

  8. Robert Gramann FAIA Jan 22, 2020 at 3:58 pm

    Otto was both an wonderful artist and architect. I had the pleasure of working with Otto for 18 years after I graduated from UC architecture program. He was my mentor, coach and friend. He encouraged me to teach at UC architecture
    as adjunct professor for over 10 years as he did. His design talent was the GBBN glue and made us a very compelling firm. He would be so proud of the foundation he built at GBBN now a 62 year old firm.
    I enjoyed his wife Kari and watching them raise their fine family. My thoughts and prayers are with your family at this
    time of your loss.
    Robert Gramann FAIA

  9. Barbara & David Day Jan 22, 2020 at 5:02 pm

    Otto is one of our favorite people. We had the pure pleasure of working on a design/art project with him in the 1990’s after knowing and admiring his work for more than 20 years. May God rest his soul.

  10. Jerry Trefzger Jan 23, 2020 at 9:16 am

    Thanks for putting Oto’s obit in the Cincinnati Enquirer. I only knew Otto for a few years before we graduated from UC in 1950 in Architecture. He was a fine man. I never heard an unkind word from Otto.
    The Lord bless his family abundantly.

  11. neil bortz Jan 23, 2020 at 1:37 pm

    Otto was a kind,generous and talented gentleman who graced Mt.Adams with his presence and behind as one of his many legacies 1111 St. Gregory St.,and award winning mixed use developement that has become the anchor of our business district. my thoughts and prayers to all his beloved family.

  12. John Bentley Jan 23, 2020 at 3:56 pm

    One of the first Architects I met when I started my practice in Landscape Architecture in 1970. Otto was a brilliant Architect, a fine artist, and a gentlemen. I remember attending various Indian Hill Planning Commission meetings, at which Otto would ‘doodle’ while he was absorbing the nuances of the presentation. At the end of the meeting, if one took the time to notice, there would be a superb pencil sketch, usually of a gnarly, statuesque ancient tree, among his notes.! He will be truly missed. John Bentley/FASLA

  13. Don Engelhard Jan 23, 2020 at 4:20 pm

    What sad news was this! Otto was a fine and good man, a loyal friend and partner. Those who worked most closely with him depended on his incredible artistic abilities, his keen understanding of structure and all other aspects of fine architectural design. I enjoyed so much his Christmas card sketches; they never lost their essence, character, and tremendous his artistic insight. He will be missed by his family, friends and associates

  14. Robert Otto Bauer-Nilsen Jan 24, 2020 at 11:21 am

    Goodbye FarFar, such a great man with a heart of gold. You will be truly missed by so many people.

  15. Randy Sanders Jan 26, 2020 at 9:00 pm

    I have had the pleasure of knowing Otto Sr., my father-in-law, for nearly a half century. I will think of him often and truly miss him. The fondest memories will include the many dinners we shared – especially those of fresh fish from the family farm.

  16. Jim Fitzgerald Feb 1, 2020 at 1:14 pm

    If I tried very hard, I could not think of one negative comment I could make about Otto. He had a brilliant mind, was a gifted architect and artist, a wise man and always a kind and articulate gentleman who had time for anyone who asked for it. He was my invaluable mentor on many levels.

    I worked at GBBN for 6 years after I graduated from the University of Notre Dame in architecture in 1962, With his and Jack Burdick’s and Jack Gartner’s encouragement, I left to start my own firm in 1968 with their approval. Otto was one of my sponsors in that endeavor and was always available for encouragement and unbiased advice. I kept in touch with him in those early years . He was always available and a trusted friend.

    I am saddened to know Otto is gone, but he is is and always will be very much alive in my memories. Like many others he touched, I loved Otto and will miss knowing that his kindness, wisdom and great sense of humor is now longer gracing this planet. I send my sincere condolences to all his family. I know he rests in peace


  17. Camilla Aasen Mar 26, 2020 at 4:54 am

    This was sad news.. Was always looking forward to visit You at the cypress cove when we was visitting our familyhouse in cape. You was always so nice to met, and my daughter loved when we went up to your room after dinner, so she could dance when you played piano for us. You was so talented! Rest in peace Otto.

  18. Elisabeth Aasen Jul 14, 2020 at 11:21 am

    This is so sad ❤️ Today its 1/2 year already when you past away. We always love to visit you when we was in our house in Cape Coral. You was always so opdated in everything. You was reading the newspaper from Norway on your computer. There was always a lot to talk about. We miss you Otto❤️ Love from Tor and Elisabeth

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