Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886-1969) believed that architecture should express the essence of its civilization – that the same things guiding our lives should build our homes, museums and offices. His buildings speak to our hope for simplicity, shaping our lived environment, and in doing so, illuminating life itself.
Today we celebrate this legacy. If Mies van der Rohe was alive he would be 126 years old. Along with Gropius, Le Corbusier and Oscar Niemeyer, the great German-American architect is regarded as one of the pioneering masters of modern architecture.
“Less is more” and “God is in the details” are aphorisms often associated to Mies.
He created an influential twentieth century architectural style, stated with extreme clarity and simplicity. His mature buildings made use of modern 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.
The German Pavilion at the International Exposition in Barcelona built in 1927 is one of his most famous buildings.
After meeting the american architect Phillip Johnson, who included several of his projects in MoMA’s firts architecture exhibition held in 1932, Mies became an american citizen and was established professional in the US. In this period he designed one of his most famous buildings, The Farnsworth House. This project is one of the most radically minimalist houses ever designed.
The Twin Towers in Chicago were completed in 1951. The skyscraper was followed by other high-rises in Chicago, New York, Detroit, and Toronto, culminating in 1954 with The Seagram Building in New York, hailed as a masterpiece of skyscraper design.
His career came full-circle when he was invited to design the New National Gallery in Berlim.
He died in Chicago on August 17, 1969.