Last edited 09 Mar 2017

Mies van der Rohe (Architect)

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Ludwig Mies van der Rohe was a German architect, born in 1886 and active from 1920's to the 1960's. He died in 1969.

He created buildings and skyscrapers for Berlin (where there is a continental climate) that became the modernist style and have been called, by William McDonough (an American architect), when transferred to America 'vertical gas chambers' because of their lack of opening windows for ventilation, and their all-glass facade which would overheat on most days, especially in the summer causing discomfort and thermal stress for their occupants.

He had a number of well-known sayings which have been frequently misinterpreted as "less is more", so all you get is a roof, floor, and glass walls around the outside. The more is the aesthetic or emotional response with many people appreciating this look. He said "God lies in the details" to mean that you must work to get the details right (to give the best look or aesthetic emotional response), and in so doing seeking and finding God.

He spend a lot of time designing the Barcelona chair that is used in many waiting rooms and movies, even to the extent of going back in his 60's and trying to improve it, saying it was the hardest thing he had designed in his life. The author assumes this is because we use a chair differently to how we use buildings, and at different times need much more of a chair and others much less.

His notable buildings include:

  • Seagram building (shown below, a skyscraper, that many others copied)
  • Farnsworth house, for Dr Farnsworth, who insisted on walls between the bedroom and kitchen.

Seagram.jpg

He moved to Chicago in the late-1930s and drew upon the International Style for some of his most celebrated modernist works. The AMA Plaza (formerly the IBM Plaza), was his last building and exemplifies his trademark minimalist aesthetic.

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