Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe (1886-1969)

The German-American architect Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe was one of the most influential representatives of the International Style. He believed that “less is more,” and he designed rational and minimalist skyscrapers, houses, and furniture.

Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe (1886-1969): portrait in black and white of the designer.
Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe (1886-1969)

Image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ludwig_Mies_van_der_Rohe#/media/File:Ludwig_Mies_van_der_Rohe.jpg

About His Life

Born in Germany in 1886, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe broke new ground with his architectural designs, starting as a draftsman before striking out later on his own. During World War I, Mies served in the German military and became a well-known architect in Germany. He created famous structures, such as the German Pavilion for the 1929 Barcelona Exposition. Additionally, he acted as the third and last Bauhaus director. In the late 1930s, Mies immigrated to the United States, where he created such well-known Modernist works as the Lake Shore Drive Apartments and the Seagram Building. He died in 1969.

His Multifaceted Body of Work

Before Mies immigrated to the United States, he had already realized several remarkable architecture pieces.

  • The Urbig House (1917) in Potsdam, Germany
  • The Afrikanische Strasse (1925) in Berlin, Germany, which filled Berlin’s growing need for middle-class housing.
  • The Weissenhofsiedlung (1927) in Stuttgart, Germany, was composed of 20 buildings (now with 11 surviving).
  • The Barcelona Pavillion, demolished in 1930 at the 1929 World’s Fair, was designed by Mies and other 17 architects. Later, rebuilt on the same site.
  • The Lange and Esters Houses (1930) in Krefeld, Germany
  • The Bauhaus Berlin (1930) in Berlin, Germany and was formerly a derelict factory that the students renovated under Mies’ direction.
  • The Villa Tugendhat (1930) in Brno-Brno-sever, Czech Republic
  • The Lemke House (1933) in Berlin, Germany, is the last house by mies in Germany.
Exterior of the Barcellona Pavilion by Mies Van der Rohe and 17 other architects.
Barcellona Pavilion (1927) by Mies Van Der Rohe

Image source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/5f893424-32cd-4f1c-830c-ddc7f19423d3 by Sandro Maggi Architetto

The Barcelona Pavilion, Mies van der Rohe's iconic work of modern architecture, is a unique perceptual experience shaped using techniques such as symmetry, staging, and reflectivity.
The Barcelona Pavilion interior

Image source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/30f9ca49-e83e-47a5-8740-401b6627a428 by Sandro Maggi Architetto

His Work in the United States

After he arrived in the United States, Mies wasted no time getting to work. He designed the Illinois Institute of Technology, then known as the Armour Institute, the Promontory Apartments, and the Farnsworth House, which is one of the best examples of American modernism. Additionally, he designed the Lake shore Apartments, composed of a pair of steel-fronted towers, the Crown Hall, home of the College of Architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology, the Seagram Building, and Lafayette Park, which is on the site of a slum and intended to prevent the middle-class from fleeing to the suburbs.

Seagram Building shown from the ground up.
Seagram Building by Mies Van Der Rohe in New York

Image source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/2c2195d3-bf14-4bb3-8c6d-908853a5187f by Tim Brown Architecture

Lafayette Park in Detroit, Michigan is on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places: Simple, rectangular structure with lots of windows.
Lafayette Park in Detroit, Michigan is on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places

Image source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/a8163ae9-919b-497e-a511-bcac24299cd4 by en:User:Mikerussell

In his late years, he designed the New National Gallery, in Berlin, Germany, which opened in 1968 and cantilevers a primary exhibit hall over a glassy central pavilion. The characteristic open interior space defies the traditional, heavily-partitioned museum experience.

Photo of the Neue Nationalgalerie
Neue Nationalgalerie by Mies van Der Rohe in Berlin

Image source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/c563b6f1-07cf-4476-9130-62a9276dce4d by Lauren Manning

Mies, often collaborating with Lilly Reich, designed modern furniture pieces using the then-new industrial technologies. They created pieces that have become popular classics, such as the Barcelona chair, the Brno chair, and the Tugendhat chair. His furniture, known for its fine craftsmanship, has a mix of traditional luxurious fabrics like leather combined with modern chrome frames. Additionally, it often has a distinct separation of the supporting structure and the supported surfaces, employing cantilevers to enhance the feeling of lightness created by the delicate structural frames.

Barcelona chair, 1929
Barcelona chair (1929) by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Reich

Image source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/c7fee43d-fd87-405d-ac15-af9fbb4029cc by GuySie

Barcelona Chair in the German Pavillion of Universal Exhibition in Barcelona (1929), by Mies and Reich
Barcelona Chair in the German Pavillion of Universal Exhibition in Barcelona (1929) by Mies and Reich

Image source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pavell%C3%B3_Mies_06.JPG

Identifying Mies’ Style

Mies van der Rohe and his designs were deemed nothing less than visionary, placing him at the forefront of modern architecture. Also, not only did he set the standard for all modernist design, but brought European modernism to America. He is often associated with the aphorisms, less is more

The Details

Mies’s attitude towards architecture and design was shaped by some avant-garde art schools, which blossomed in the 1920s, including the Bauhaus, embodied by the works of Walter Gropius, the Dutch De Stijl group, the Russian Constructivism, the design concepts of the Czech-born architect Adolf Loos (1870-1933), and the American Prairie Style building designs of Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959).

Further, he pioneered the extensive use of glass in buildings. In addition, his works introduced a new level of simplicity and transparency, and his buildings were often referred to as “skin-and-bones” architecture for their emphasis on steel structure and glass enclosure.

S. R. Crown Hall by Mies Van Der Rohe in Chicago: photo of the structure from the road.
S. R. Crown Hall by Mies Van Der Rohe in Chicago

Image source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/b5c4e1b6-b6e2-4547-8734-600ecda4a2dd by Peter Alfred Hess


Info sources:

https://www.biography.com/people/ludwig-mies-van-der-rohe-9407940

https://www.thoughtco.com/mies-van-der-rohe-neo-miesian-177427

http://www.archdaily.com/574575/material-masters-glass-is-more-with-mies-van-der-rohe  

http://www.visual-arts-cork.com/architecture/mies-van-der-rohe.htm

https://www.curbed.com/maps/mies-van-der-rohe-important-works

http://www.ranker.com/list/ludwig-mies-van-der-rohe-buildings-and-structures/reference

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ludwig_Mies_van_der_Rohe

Leave a Reply

Ads Blocker Image Powered by Code Help Pro

Ads Blocker Detected!!!

We have detected that you are using extensions to block ads. Please support us by disabling these ads blocker.

Powered By
Best Wordpress Adblock Detecting Plugin | CHP Adblock