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Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (March 27, 1886 - August 17, 1969) was an architect and designer. Born in Aachen, Germany, he worked in the family stone-carving business before he joined the office of Bruno Paul in Berlin. He entered the studio of Peter Behrens in 1908 and remained until 1912.

Under Behrens' influence, Mies developed a design approach based on advanced structural techniques and Prussian Classicism. He also developed a sympathy for the aesthetic credos of both Russian Constructivism and the Dutch De Stijl group. He borrowed from the post and lintel construction of Karl Friedrich Schinkel for his designs in steel and glass.

Mies worked with the magazine G which started in July 1923. He made major contributions to the architectural philosophies of the late 1920s and 1930s as artistic director of the Werkbund-sponsored Weissenhof project and as Director of the Bauhaus.

However he fled reluctantly in the late 1930s as he saw the Nazis growing in power. When he arrived in the United States, he was already a somewhat influential designer. He had been the director of the Bauhaus design school for several years and had won the commission for several architectural projects.

Famous for his dictums 'Less is More' and 'God is in the details', Mies attempted to create contemplative, neutral spaces through an architecture based on material honesty and structural integrity. Over the last twenty years of his life, Mies achieved his vision of a monumental 'skin and bone' architecture. His later works provide a fitting denouement to a life dedicated to the idea of a universal, simplified architecture

Mies settled in Chicago where he was appointed as head of the architecture school at Chicago's Armour Institute of Technology (later renamed Illinois Institute of Technology - IIT) His one condition on taking this position was that he would be able to redesign the campus. Some of his most famous buildings still stand there including Crown Hall, the home of IIT's School of Architecture.

In 1958 van der Rohe built what has been regarded as the ultimate expression of the International Style of architecture, the Seagram Building in New York. It is a large glass work, but controversially, van der Rohe chose to include a massive plaza and fountain in front of the structure, creating an open space in Park Avenue.

Mies designed and built many modern high-rises in Chicago's downtown and elsewhere. Some of his credits include the Federal Building (1959), the IBM Building (1966) and 860-880 Lake Shore Drive (1948-52), the first building to use an all glass and steel curtain wall in its construction, the hallmark of the modern skyscraper.


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