Mies van der Rohe, Ludwig

Mies van der Rohe, Ludwig
b. 27 March 1886 Aachen, Germany
d. 17 August 1969 Chicago, USA
German architect, third of the great trio of long-lived, second-generation modernists who established the international style in the inter-war years and brought it to maturity (See Jeanneret (Le Corbusier) and Gropius).
Mies van der Rohe was the son of a stonemason and his early constructional training came from his father. As a young man he gained experience of the modern school from study of the architecture of the earlier leaders, notably Peter Behrens, Hendrik Berlage and Frank Lloyd Wright. He commenced architectural practice in 1913 and soon after the First World War was establishing his own version of modern architecture. His building materials were always of the highest quality, of marble, stone, glass and, especially, steel. He stripped his designs of all extraneous decoration: more than any of his contemporaries he followed the theme of elegance, functionalism and an ascetic concentration on essentials. He believed that architectural design should not look backwards but should reflect the contemporary achievement of advanced technology in both its construction and the materials used, and he began early in his career to act upon these beliefs. Typical was his early concrete and glass office building of 1922, after which, more importantly, came his designs for the German Pavilion at the Barcelona Exposition of 1929. These designs included his famous Barcelona chair, made from chrome steel and leather in a geometrical design, one which has survived as a classic and is still in production. Another milestone was his Tugendhat House in Brno (1930), a long, low, rectilinear structure in glass and steel that set a pattern for many later buildings of this type. In 1930 Mies followed his colleagues as third Director of the Bauhaus, but due to the rise of National Socialism in Germany it was closed in 1933. He finally left Germany for the USA in 1937, and the following year he took up his post as Director of Architecture in Chicago at what is now known as the Illinois Institute of Technology and where he remained for twenty years. In America Mies van der Rohe continued to develop his work upon his original thesis. His buildings are always recognizable for their elegance, fine proportions, high-quality materials and clean, geometrical forms; nearly all are of glass and steel in rectangular shapes. The structure and design evolved according to the individual needs of each commission, and there were three fundamental types of design. One type was the single or grouped high-rise tower, built for apartments for the wealthy, as in his Lake Shore Drive Apartments in Chicago (1948–51), or for city-centre offices, as in his Seagram Building in New York (1954–8, with Philip Johnson) or his Chicago Federal Centre (1964). Another form was the long, low rectangle based upon the earlier Tugendhat House and seen again in the New National Gallery in Berlin (1965–8). Third, there were the grouped schemes when the commission called for buildings of varied purpose on a single, large site. Here Mies van der Rohe achieved a variety and interest in the different shapes and heights of buildings set out in spatial harmony of landscape. Some examples of this type of scheme were housing estates (Lafayette Park Housing Development in Detroit, 1955–6), while others were for educational, commercial or shopping requirements, as at the Toronto Dominion Centre (1963–9).
Further Reading
L.Hilbersheimer, 1956, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Chicago: P.Theobald.
Peter Blake, 1960, Mies van der Rohe, Architecture and Structure, Penguin, Pelican. Arthur Drexler, 1960, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, London: Mayflower.
Philip Johnson, 1978, Mies van der Rohe, Seeker and Warburg.

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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  • Mies van der Rohe, Ludwig — orig. Maria Ludwig Michael Mies born March 27, 1886, Aachen, Ger. died Aug. 17, 1969, Chicago, Ill., U.S. German born U.S. architect and designer. Mies learned masonry from his father and later worked in the office of Peter Behrens. His first… …   Universalium

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  • MIES VAN DER ROHE, Ludwig — (1886 1969)    Ludwig Mies van der Rohe s dictum less is more came to be understood as the underlying rationale for German modernism. Director of the Bauhaus School of Dessau from 1930 until the Nazis closed it in 1933, Mies van der Rohe worked… …   Historical Dictionary of Architecture

  • Mies van der Rohe, Ludwig — ► (1886 1969) Arquitecto alemán. En 1905 trabajó a las órdenes de un arquitecto especializado en la construcción de madera. En 1908 se asoció con Behrens; con él llevó la dirección de las obras de un gran edificio clasicista: la embajada alemana… …   Enciclopedia Universal

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