Mies van der Rohe

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe was a German-born architect widely regarded as one of the masters of modern architecture. Mies, like many of his post war contemporaries, sought to establish a new architectural style that could represent the 20th Century.

His mature buildings made use of modern materials such as industrial steel and plate glass to define austere but elegant spaces. He developed the use of exposed steel structure and glass to enclose space, striving for an architecture with a minimal framework of structural order balanced against the implied freedom of open space.

Mies was the son of a stone mason. As a quality touch he used book-matched marble in the 900 and 910 lobbies and granite around the perimeter of the buildings.

Mies’ first large-scale commercial work, commissioned by developer Herbert Greenwald, was the high-rise towers of 860/880 Lake Shore Drive (completed 1951). The 900/910 Esplanade Apartments, which were completed in 1955, also commissioned by Greenwald.

A proponent of the modernist International Style,
he was director of the famous art school, the Bauhaus, and head of the department of Architecture at the Armour Institute of Technology (AIT), which is now the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT). He continued to design buildings both in America and Berlin. In 1962, the Berlin Senate invited Mies to design the Neue Nationalgalerie. Noted for its clear-span space and classical temple design, it would be Mies’ final statement for his homeland.

Photos: Chicago History Museum: HB-8506-K4, Hedrich Blessing (detail)


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Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

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