Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
Ludwig Mies was born in Aachen, Germany on March 27th, 1886, and he trained with his father who was a master stonemason. Then at the age if 19 he moved to Berlin, where he worked for successful architect and furniture designer Bruno Paul. And at 20 years he finally got his first independent commission from philosopher Alois Riehl to plan a house. Between 1908- 1912 he studied the works of many architects like Lloyd Wright, Peter Behrens, and Karl Friedrich Sch
inkel, and he eventually opened his own offices in Berlin later on that year. After WWI he started studying the skyscraper science along with designing two inventive steel framed towers immured in glass. He got little attention innovative with his innovative designs that didn’t fit the times, but it however was prelude to the skyscraper boom of the 1940s to the 1950s.
He got the rest of alias, after his marriage ended, and he took up the Dutch ‘van der’ and his mother’s maiden name ‘rohe’, thus becoming the name we know today. In the 20s he was a very active member of the avant-garde realms in Berlin, the magazine ‘G’, “Novembergruppe”, ‘Arbeitsrat Fur Kunst’ just to name a few that supported modern artists, architecture. Many famous artists were part of these circles, and it paved the way for their work and gaining respect from everyone. Ludwig was also a huge contributor to the architectural philosophies of that period as well, because due to his influences and his beliefs, and his standing among the design community. He became the director of the Werkbund sponsored “Weissenhof” project, which was a model housing colony in Stuttgart, as he also designed a block.
He designed one of his most famous structures in 1927, “The German Pavilion” at the international exposition in Barcelona. Another one of famous designs was also inspired by Barcelona is the famous chrome and leather “Barcelona Chair”. The pavilion is a fluid and seamless place and it has columns that seem to support the roof, but they actually don’t, as they can be easily moved around, and pavilion is made out of glass and marble. Ludwig later met New York architect Philip Johnson, who in 1932 included several of his projects in the first ever MoMA’s architecture exhibition “Modern Architecture: International Exhibition” through which the US become acquainted with his works. He through a rough patch from the mid-30s with worldwide economic change, especially in Germany with the rumors of war on the way, so he moved to the US in 1937.
He started working for almost twenty years as the head of architecture at the Armour Institute of Technology in Chicago, later called the Illinois Institute of Technology, and was eventually asked to design the future look of the school. He became an American citizen in 1944 and was well establish professionally, and it was around this time he designed the Chicago retreat the “Farnsworth House” one of his most famous houses, and is one of the most extremely minimalist houses ever designed. He developed many other theories and designed many other buildings, example the “Twin Towers” in Chicago and the “Seagram” skyscraper in New York.
He was awarded the “Orden pour le Merite” from Germany in 1959, and the “Presidential medal of Freedom” from the USA in 1963. The culmination of his works came full circle as he was invited to design the new “National Gallery” in Berlin. He designed a spectacular structure and returned many times to Germany to oversee its construction, but he could not attend the opening in 1968, due to health and he died in Chicago on August 17th, 1969.