Monday, February 4, 2008



Mies Van Der Rohe was born in 1886 in Aachen, Germany with the name Maria Ludwig Michael Mies. While his early years and youth were not well recorded, his life following and including his entry into the world of architecture was. In 1905, Mies left Aachen and moved to Berlin to begin a job that he was promised. He served as a studio apprentice to Peter Behrens from 1908 to 1912. In this time, he was discovered as a new talent and was commissioned for projects that he would take on alone. Uniquely, Mies had no formal education in architecture but was still well desired. Eventually, he opened his own office in 1914 which would bring him international recognition as one of the greatest modern minds in architecture. After a largely successful career, Mies became director in the Bauhaus school in Germany from 1930 until its closure in 1933. Due to the Nazi regime, Mies moved to the United States and continued his career in education, taking over the architecture program for the Armour Institute of Technology in Chicago. Mies continued to design very near his final years. In 1969, he died leaving his unique style to decay and eventually become unpracticed due to its difficulty to imitate.

Mies’ work includes a range of projects. In his early years, he designed and built houses in Berlin. However, these early works would become completely absent from his later, more praised designs. Two notable works that gained him international recognition were the German Pavillion from 1929 and the Villa Tugendhat from 1930. Both are considered to be masterworks of Mies and are very important to modern architecture. The German Pavilion was praised for its simplistic and elegant design and its use of marble and travertine. The Villa Tugendhat was praised for its functionalism and iron structure. By 1930, Mies had gained worldwide fame for visionary projects which he developed. From 1949 to 1951, Mies designed and built the 860 - 880 Lake Shore Drive Apartments, which are considered to be one of his most important designs. Their structure was from painted black steel and aluminum framed windows. The signifigance of the towers is credited with their placement in a "trapezoidal site". The placement of the buildings functioned as a way for each building to have a maximum view of the lake. As well, the buildings are connected by a "monolithic canopy".

To date, Mies is considered to be one of the major pioneers in modern architecture. In his work, he hoped to establish a new definitive style for the current era. As the gothic era had unique architecture, Mies hoped his style would be the same for his own era. While his style is rarely seen anymore due to its difficulty to recreate and high standards to maintain, there is no doubt that Mies work is vastly important to modern architechture. He was well known for using the phrases "less is more" and "god is in the details" when describing his style. As well, he achieved functionalism in his designs over his twenty years of work. Today, many of his projects are either being restored or rebuilt. As well, the 860-880 Lake Shore Drive Apartments are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and are a Chicago Landmark. Mies has certainly left his mark in the world of design.

No comments: