PowerPoint Presentation - Ludwig Mies van der Rohe in the Early

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Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
in the Early 20th Century
Ludwig Mies (1886-1969) was born in Aachen and trained, like his
Franco-Swiss peer Le Corbusier, in a crafts school. Also like Corb,
Mies changed his name, adding the suffix “van der Rohe” to avoid the
otherwise pejorative connotation of the word “mies” (in German:
“weakly, out of sorts, poor, bad”).
He was trained in classicism and continued to abide by concepts of
classical restraint, proportion, and attention to structural aesthetics
throughout his career. However, he was also heavily influenced by
Peter Behrens (in whose studio he worked 1908-1911) and by Frank
Lloyd Wright, whose exhibited drawings he saw when they were
displayed in Berlin while he was working in the Behrens studio.
Originally trained as a furniture designer and later as a stone mason,
he easily translated his inclinations into architecture in the Berlin
environment. After World War I, he entered several competitions and
did a number of projects that were speculative.
First entry for the Friedrichstrasse
Skyscraper competition, Berlin,
1921 (drawing)
First project for a glass
skyscraper, Berlin, model, 1922
Project for a glass skyscraper in
Berlin, 1922
Project for a Brick Villa, 1924
This design stands under
the heavy influence of both
Frank Lloyd Wright and
the DeStijl movement.
The organization of the
brick masses and planes
should be compared with
the plan of the Willitts
House (1902) by Wright.
Project for a Concrete Office Building, Berlin, 1922-23
Project for the reorganization of
Potsdamer Platz, Berlin, c1925
Proposal for the renovation of Potsdamer Platz, Berlin
Proposal for a new Reichsbank, 1933 (Competition entry)
This project was executed at the outset of the National Socialist regime
in Germany and has, among other things, caused some historians to
question Mies van der Rohe’s political allegiances. How could
someone who had for a while been director of the Bauhaus after its
move to Berlin and its eventual closure have designed for the Nazis?
Elevation and plan for the
proposed Reichsbank, 1933,
competition entry
In 1927/8, Mies was commissioned to design the German Pavilion
for the World’s Exposition to be held in Barcelona, Spain, 1928-29.
This exhibit was extremely unique among exhibits because he was
not intended to contain such things as German industrial products
or even German art. It was to be an experience of the new German
modern architecture and nothing else.
The building itself, therefore, is the exhibit. An examination of its
plans and constructed form shows a strong reliance on Mies’s main
sources: classicism, Frank Lloyd Wright, functionalism, and a
spatiality related to LeCorbusier’s work, all tempered by a strong
sense of elegant materiality and minimalist aesthetics.
This Barcelona Pavilion was a tour-de-force in its synthesis of
important elements and directions in modern architecture, yet it was
far from inexpensive or cost-efficient. The structural frame was
accompanied by very expensive materials: marble and onyx, tinted
semi-reflecting glass, sharp-edged stainless steel and travertine.
The Pavilion was dismantled in 1930 and subsequently lost. In the
late 1990s, it was reconstructed using materials very much like those
in the original pavilion. Some onyx quarries were even re-opened in
order to provide stone from the same source for some of the interior
wall planes. The original chrome-plated cruciform columns that
carried the thin roof plane were replaced by stainless steel columns;
but that is about the only significant material difference.
In 1928, the wealthy Czech industrialists Fritz and Grete Tugendhat
(pr. “two-gen-tot”) commissioned Mies to design a residence for
them in Brno, the capital of the province of Moravia. The house
shares some features with the Barcelona Pavilion, but accepts the
reality of a sloping site that has a huge panoramic view to the south
over the city of Brno in conjunction with the functional program of
the family.
The street side of the residence is closed, even mysterious, giving
little indication of what lies behind its white planes. The bedrooms
are at this level which is actually the upper floor of the house. A
travertine staircase leads to the stunning living and dining area
below with their enormous plate glass windows offering a
continuum of space between house and nature whether open or
closed.

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