Ludwig Mies van der Rohe is considered the most influential architect of the 20th century. His designs and shared vision have shaped what modern cities look like today.
Ludwig Mies (03/27/1886, Aachen – 09/17/1969, Chicago) – modernist and founder of the international style. The general principles that he used in his buildings: free plan, frame structure, lightweight construction, modular system, new materials, simple geometry.
1. The building as a solution to a problem
As a young man, working in the studio of the German architect Peter Behrens, Mies van der Rohe developed a universal approach to building design. He described himself as an ardent opponent of the idea that the specificity of buildings should have an individual character: the character of the building should be determined by the general problem solved with the help of architecture.
2. “Less is more” – the principle formulated by Mies van der Rohe, for a long time captured the minds of all architects who professed the ultimate functionalism. Like God is in the details, the expression Less is more has become an aphorism and a slogan of modern architecture.
3. Free Layout
“Many people think that an open plan means absolute freedom, but this is not true. The free plan requires the same discipline and thoughtfulness from the architect as the traditional plan,” Mies van der Rohe wrote in 1953. The concept of free planning was first implemented in the project of a three-story residential building in the village of Weissenhof, built in the suburbs of Stuttgart for the Housing exhibition.
4. Clear design
The architect was interested in the clarity and intelligibility of the design. “If you start to develop the plan and interior spaces first, everything will stall and it will be impossible to create a clear design. The structure is the backbone of the building, and thanks to it, a free plan is possible. Without this backbone, the plan would not be free, but chaotic and therefore difficult to use the building, ”wrote Ludwig in 1953.
5. Armchair Barcelona – A masterpiece of steel, onyx, travertine and glass.
The architect abandoned the decor, and combined the interior with the surrounding landscape. Knowing that the king of Spain Alfonso XII and his wife would visit the pavilion, Mies van der Rohe developed a version of modernist thrones – this is how the Barcelona chairs appeared, which were then produced by the American company Knoll.
6. Just Mies
From 1912 to 1930, the son of an artisan, Ludwig, works as an independent architect in Berlin and changes his surname to a more pretentious one, combining the surname Mies inherited from his father with his mother, Rohe, with the help of the aristocratic combination “van der”.
7. Bauhaus director Mies van der Rohe became the third and last director of the German Bauhaus.
The second director, who headed the school from 1928 to 1930, Hannes Meyer, who was a Marxist, handed over the reins of power to Mies van der Rohe, left with several students for the USSR to build cities at large factories and design the city of Birobidzhan.
8. St. Petersburg Ludwig Mies van der Rohe built in St. Petersburg. Shortly before the First World War in 1911-1912, he supervised the construction of the building of the German embassy on St. Isaac’s Square, which was erected according to the project of his boss Peter Behrens.
9. Beckmann, Kandinsky and Klee In 1938, Mies van der Rohe left for the US to escape the Nazis and became a naturalized American.
10. Glass walls
The house, designed for the Chicago surgeon Edith Farnsworth, a glass-framed parallelepiped raised on supports, has become the architect’s most copied and cited residential building. The house seems to float in space. The walls are separated from the load-bearing supports, emphasizing the ephemerality of the structure. The house has no internal partitions, it consists of a single room, open to the surrounding landscape. “When you look at the landscape through the glass walls of Farnsworth House, it takes on a deeper meaning than when you contemplate it from outside the building.”
11. Skyscraper Seagram Building in New York, completed in 1958 – the prototype of many office buildings built around the world. It was the Seagram Building that determined the character of the buildings of business centers from London to Singapore.