He was born in Wiesloch near Heidelberg and studied at the State Technical College (later the Fachhochschule) in Karlsruhe from 1924 to 1928 and the Technical University (today the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology), until May 1933.
He was made head of the architectural office at Hermann Alker before leaving to set up his own office in Karlsruhe in 1937. Later that year he was appointed Professor of Architecture at the State Technical College. His first major commission was the conversion of a Karlsruhe building to be a Nazi publishing house in 1939. In 1942 he opened a second office in Strasbourg, where he was commissioned to construct a new administrative building and to redesign the Senate Council Chamber for the University of Strasbourg. After the war he worked on the reconstruction of industry, particularly on the FAG Kugelfischer factories in Schweinfurt.
His major achievement, in collaboration with the engineer Ulrich Finsterwalder, was the design and construction in 1953 of the Schwarzwaldhalle in Karlsruhe, which has the first hanging paraboloid roof in reinforced concrete to be constructed in Europe.
From 1955 to his death, he supervised the development of Karlsruhe's nuclear research centre, including the research reactor, the central administrative building, the college of nuclear technology, the information centre, the security headquarter and a variety of workshops and laboratories.
Schelling's buildings help define the image of Karlsruhe. Some of them, such as the Schwarzwaldhalle, the Nancy Hall, the Chamber of Crafts and Trades and the State Insurance Institute, are listed as cultural monuments.
He married interior designer Trude Schelling-Karrer, who collaborated with him in his work. In 1992, after Schelling's death, she founded the Schelling Architecture Foundation, which she ran until her own death in 2009. The Foundation awards the Schelling Architecture Award and the Schelling Architecture Theory Award every two years in his honour.
- 1939 Publishing House for the Nazi propaganda newspaper Der Führer (today the Badische Neueste Nachrichten) in the Lammstrasse, Karlsruhe
- 1949–60: Factories for FAG Kugelfischer, Schweinfurt
- 1952: Reconstruction of the administrative building for the Dresdner Bank in Marktplatz, Karlsruhe
- 1953: Administration building for the Badenia Building Society, Karlsruhe
- 1953: Schwarzwaldhalle, Karlsruhe
- 1954/55: Gartenhalle, Karlsruhe
- 1954/55: Wildparkstadion, Karlsruhe
- 1954/55: Administration building for the Volksbank in Marktplatz, Karlsruhe
- 1954: Extension of the Town Hall, Schweinfurt
- 1955–86: Development of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology
- 1957/58: Chamber of Crafts and Trades, Karlsruhe
- 1958–63: High rise building for the State Insurance Institute, Baden, Karlsruhe
- 1958–60: Extension of the Federal Law Courts, Karlsruhe
- 1961–66: City Theatre, Schweinfurt
- 1964–66: Nancy Hall, Karlsruhe
- 1968–70: Institut Max von Laue-Paul Langevin, Grenoble
- 1969–71: Condominium in Karlsruhe-Oberreut
- 1974–77: Extension of the State Insurance Institute, Baden, Karlsruhe
- 1940–42: Design for "New Strasbourg”
- 1952: Design for the Tullabad, Karlsruhe
- 1959: Museum Georg Schäfer, Schweinfurt
- 1960: First competition for the Badische Staatstheater Karlsruhe
- 1963: Second competition for the Badische Staatstheater, Karlsruhe
- Erich Schelling – Architekt 1904–1986. With a foreword by Heinrich Klotz. Aries, München 1994, ISBN 3-920041-42-9
Schelling Architecture Award
- 2014: Diébédo Francis Kéré 
- 2012: Al Borde Arquitectos
- 2010: Wang Shu & Lu Wenyu of Amateur Architecture Studio
- 2008: Jan Olav Jensen & Børre Skodvin, Jensen & Skodvin Architects
- 2006: Anne Lacaton & Jean Philippe Vassal
- 2004: Benjamin Foerster-Baldenius, raumlabor
- 2000: Kazuyo Sejima
- 1998: Sauerbruch & Hutton, Busse & Geitner
- 1996: Peter Zumthor
- 1994: Zaha Hadid
- 1992: Helmut Swiczinsky & Wolf D. Prix of Coop Himmelb(l)au
Schelling Architecture Theory Prize
- 2014: Juhani Pallasmaa
- 2012: Kenneth Frampton
- 2010: Jean-Louis Cohen
- 2008: Friedrich Achleitner
- 2004: Manuel Castells
- 2006: Werner Sewing
- 2000: Martin Steinmann
- 1998: Stanislaus von Moos
- 1996: Nikolaus Kuhnert
- 1994: Wolfgang Pehnt
- 1992: Werner Durth
- "Founders". Schelling Architecture Foundation. Retrieved 5 January 2016.
- Erich Schelling: Architekt der Schwarzwaldhalle, Stadt Karlsruhe
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