Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
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Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (born as Maria Ludwig Michael Mies; March 27, 1886, Aachen – August 17, 1969, Chicago) was a German-American architect. He is commonly referred to, and was addressed, as Mies, his surname. Along with Le Corbusier andFrank Lloyd Wright, he is widelyregarded as one of the pioneering masters of modern architecture.
Mies, like many of his post-World War I contemporaries, sought to establish a new architectural style that could represent modern times just as Classical and Gothic did for their own eras. He created an influential twentieth century architectural style, stated with extreme clarity and simplicity. His mature buildings made use ofmodern materials such as industrial steel and plate glass to define interior spaces. He strived towards an architecture with a minimal framework of structural order balanced against the implied freedom of free-flowing open space. He called his buildings "skin and bones" architecture. He sought a rational approach that would guide the creative process of architectural design. He is often associated withthe aphorisms "less is more" and "God is in the details".
He began his independent professional career designing upper class homes, joining the movement seeking a return to the purity of early nineteenth century Germanic domestic styles. He admired the broad proportions, regularity of rhythmic elements, attention to the relationship of the man-made to nature, and compositions using simple cubicforms of the early nineteenth century Prussian Neo-Classical architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel. He rejected the eclectic and cluttered classical styles so common at the turn of the twentieth century as irrelevant to the modern times.
Traditionalism to Modernism
Villa Tugendhat built in 1930 in Brno, in today's Czech Republic, for FritzTugendhat
Barcelona Pavilion, 1929. (reconstruction)
After World War I, Mies began, while still designing traditional neoclassical homes, a parallel experimental effort. He joined his avant-garde peers in the long-running search for a new style that would be suitable for the modern industrial age. The weak points of traditional styles had been under attack by progressive theorists since themid-nineteenth century, primarily for the contradictions of hiding modern construction technology with a facade of ornamented traditional styles.
The mounting criticism of the historical styles gained substantial cultural credibility after World War I, a disaster widely seen as a failure of the old world order of imperial leadership of Europe. The aristocratic classical revival styles were particularlyreviled by many as the architectural symbol of a now-discredited and outmoded social system. Progressive thinkers called for a completely new architectural design process guided by rational problem-solving and an exterior expression of modern materials and structure rather than the superficial application of classical facades.
While continuing his traditional neoclassical design practice Mies beganto develop visionary projects that, though mostly unbuilt, rocketed him to fame as an architect capable of giving form that was in harmony with the spirit of the emerging modern society. Boldly abandoning ornament altogether, Mies made a dramatic modernist debut with his stunning competition proposal for the faceted all-glassFriedrichstraße skyscraper in 1921, followed by a taller curved versionin 1922 named the Glass Skyscraper.
He continued with a series of pioneering projects, culminating in his two European masterworks: the temporary German Pavilion for theBarcelona exposition (often called the Barcelona Pavilion) in 1929 (a 1986 reconstruction is now built on the original site) and the elegantVilla Tugendhat in Brno, Czech Republic, completed in 1930.
He joined the German...
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