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Ludwig Mies van der Rohe 1886-1969. “Architecture begins when you carefully put two bricks together”. “ Architektur beginnt wenn zwei Backsteine sorgfältig zusammengesetzt werden.”.

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ludwig mies van der rohe 1886 1969

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe1886-1969

“Architecture begins when you carefully put two bricks together”

“Architektur beginnt wenn zwei Backsteine sorgfältig zusammengesetzt werden.”

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Ludwig Mies was born in 1886 on March 27. He was born in Aachen, in the Nordhein Westfalen region of Germany, on the border of Belgium. This city was best known as the permanent residence of Charlemagne beginning in 786
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Ludwig began his building career working with his father who was a master stonemason. At the same time, he attended the trade school in Aachen although he never graduated.

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At 19 he left Aachen and moved to Berlin. After brief military service he began an intern for designer Bruno Paul in 1906
  • Self portrait of Bruno Paul
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After one year with Paul, in 1906 Mies received his first independent commission to design the house of philosophy professor Alois Riehl
  • After its completion in 1907 Ludwig spent one more year with Bruno Paul until 1908 when he began work at the offices of famed German architect Peter Behrens.
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At his offices, Mies worked with the likes of other famed architects Le Corbusier and Walter Gropius founder of the Bauhaus movement . Here he also begin to develop his early sense of style which was a crossof advanced structuralism and Prussian classicism

  • A student of Art Nouveau or Jugendstil movement, Behrens believed in a melding of the arts and architecture to create building
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After only 4 years in his service Mies left Behrens in 1912 to start his own office. He immediately received work and designed a series of home in the style of famed Prussian architect Karl Schinkel.

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The following year, Mies married schoolteacher Ada Bruhn to whom he had been introduced by the Riehl’s

Being a man of solitude and intense artistic passion, the marriage lasted but was one characterized by distance. By 1921 he had completely separated himself from his family. It was at this time that he adopted the last name of Mies van der Rohe. It was an amalgamation of his father’s last name combined with the Dutch “van der” in addition to his mother’s maiden name “Rohe”.

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Ludwig Mies, now Mies van der Rohe continued work through the twenties and became increasingly involved with artistic movements of the time in Berlin such as the Novembergruppe and Zehner Ring.

With a new name came also a new sense of style. His phrase “less is more “ began to be seen in his work as seen in his entry to a German skyscraper competition. The building was made entirely of steel and glass composites

Skyscraper model

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In 1925 van der der Rohe was appointed VP of the Deutsche Werkbund an organization aimed at elevating the quality of german design.The next year he was given the task to head the Weissenhof Exhibition, a model housing colony in Stuttgart

Like his contemporary Frank Lloyd Wright, Mies van der Rohe believed that furniture also played an important role in the design of a buildingThis chair was a design for the same exhibition

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The following year he designed a bank and office building in Stuttgart for another national competition. One of his greatest designs came the following year in the German Pavilion in Barcelona in 1929.

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The Pavilion was innovative in that the design called for the roof to be supported by chrome columns which meant that the walls could be freely positioned since they did not support the structure

  • It was later dismantled but rebuilt in the 1980’s
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The next year Miesdesigned the Turgend house in Czechoslovakia.His design was once again revolutionary and combined the seamless flow from outdoors to indoors.

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In 1930 he served as Bauhaus director taking over from former colleague Walter Gropius. Mies served this position until the school was closed by the Nazi party in 1933.

  • The school had a very renegade reputation and as such it had moved quite a bit from Weimar where it began to Dessau before settling in Berlin.
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1937 marks the departure of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe from Germany due to rising pressure from the Nazi party. Before leaving however he was offered a professorship at the Armour Institute of Technology in Chicago. This would later become the Illinois Institute of Technology and Mies would be the prime architect for the campus of the newly formed school.

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In 1944 Mies van der Rohe became a U.S. citizen. In 1946 he began work on the Farnsworth House a weekend retreat for doctor Edith Farnsworth. It’s one of the most minimalist houses ever designed being composed of a transparent box framed by eight exterior steel columns with a single room subdivided by partitions and completely enclosed in glass.

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The next decade in America was characterized by a industrial boom in a new post war american economy.The only buildings big enough to house these captains of industry were:

Skyscrapers

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Finally design would merge with construction and much of the work that Mies had begun in the 20’s would come to fruition. His first project being the Lakeshore Apartment Buildings in Chicago.

Once again he created with form and function . The first floor of the building rested on plithes giving the building integration with the outdoors.

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Mies van der Rohe would go on to to design many more skyscrapers in the U.S. as well as Toronto, Montreal, and elsewhere. Another notable one being the Seagram’s Building in New York.

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In 1962 , the now famed, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe would return to Germany to design the New National Gallery in Berlin.
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Mies van der Rohe was plagued by arthritis for the majority of his later life. Although involved to the best of his ability Ludwig would never see the completion of the National Gallery. He died in Chicago, August, 17, 1969

He died leaving a legacy of revolutionary architecture. Other then the buildings themselves he is remembered by his approach to architecture, categorized by such sayings as: “

“God is in the details.

Architecture is the will of an epoch translated into space.

Thoughts in action.

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Bibliography:
  • www.greatbuildings.com
  • www.designboom.com/
  • portrait/mies/bg.html
  • www.architectureweek.com/2001/0801/news_1-2.html
  • www.moma.org/mies
  • www.archinform.de
  • Mies van der Rohe: A Critical Biography Franz Schulze