Monday, June 22, 2009

Top 10: 3. Mies van der Rohe

Above, Seagram Building, NY. profzucker, flickr

Above, Seagram Building, New York. B. Tse, flickr

Mies van der Rohe was one of the most influential architects of modern times. To prove it, all it takes is a look at his buildings, a quick check to see if anything like them preceded them, then look at everthing else.

As a head of the Bauhaus school, Mies' credentials as a founder of modern architecture are pretty unassailable. But, his built work went far beyond even this pathfinding school. He didn't invent the skyscraper, but he arguably invented the way it was detailed, for almost a hundred years.

German Pavilion, Barcelona, 1929

Mies is called a minimalist (After all, he coined the term, "Less is more.") by many. I find that misleading on various levels. That is, Mies' buildings tended to be clean and uncluttered, but were rich in material, execution and proportion. While minimalism doesn't have to be bad, it seldom approaches the level of Mies' work, even after many decades.

Farnsworth House. Plano, Illinois. 1941.

Update, 3-23-12. An extensively documented restoration account of a Mies villa in Czechoslovakia is here: Villa Tugendhat

Update, 4-10-12. Time Magazine photos.

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