19 Must-know Facts about Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe

Archi Facts Dated:  Oct. 13, 2015
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Less is more

Ludwig Van Der Rohe is a man who is known better by his aphorisms 'Less is more' and 'God is in details.' He was a minimalist, attached to steel and glass in abundance. He is considered to be a German-American self taught Architect who lived from 1886 to 1969.

Ludwig Mies Van Der RoheLudwig Mies Van Der Rohe
Source: http://blog.vkvvisuals.com/design-icons-ludwig-mies-van-der-rohe/

1) He was born Maria Ludwig Michael Mies in 1886 and after his marriage in the 1920's, he changed his name to Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe – 'Rohe' was the maiden name of his mother and 'Van der' was a traditional part of a Dutch name.

2) He was involved in his father's stone-carving business and because of his extraordinary drawing talent, he joined architect Bruno Paul. Between 1908 and 1911, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe was in Peter Behrens' architecture firm at the same time when Walter Gropius, Hannes Meyer, and Le Corbusier were working there. 

3) But, one year before that, in 1907, he had already built his first house – the art nouveau- influenced Riehl House in Potsdam Babelsberg.

Riehl houseRiehl House
Source: http://timerime.com/en/event/2973469/Riehl+House/

4) Less known is that van der Rohe was not actually the originator of the phrase 'Less is More.'
It was by Peter Behrens, considered to be the first industrial designer and a godfather figure to the young Mies, who he drafted in to work on the aspects of the AEG Turbine Factory in Berlin between 1907 and 1910. While working on the courtyard elevation on Mies first came across the then infamous expression 'Less is More.'

Less is moreLess is more
Source: http://bauhaus-movement.tumblr.com/post/107594945429/ludwig-mies-van-der-rohe-less-is-more

5) He was the last director of Bauhaus, Berlin, in 1932, because of the political pressure from the Nazis, the state-supported school had to leave its campus in Dessau and moved to an abandoned telephone factory in Berlin and later shut down in 1933.

6) He devised the three step education beginning with crafts of drawing and construction leading to planning skills and furnishing the theory of architecture (compare Vitruvius: firmitas, utilitas, venustas)

7) 1933, the year when Bauhaus was shut down, he designed the last residence of his life, which turned out to be known as 'Mies Van der Rohe house.'

8) When Nazis rejected his style in 1937, as not 'German' in character, he moved to the head of the department of architecture of IIT Chicago.

Mies in IIT Chicago classroomMies in IIT Chicago classroom
Source: http://www.informinteriors.com/blog/2010/architecture/mies/

9) Being a minimalist, he convinced Bronfman's bankers that a tall tower with significant 'unused' open space at ground level would enhance the presence and prestige of the building.

10) Other than inspiring others, he was majorly inspired by the Prussian Architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel, especially Schinkel's use of post & lintel construction.

11) His design of Seagram building has been an early example of the innovate 'fast-track' construction process.

Seagram BuildingSeagram Building
Source: http://www.375parkavenue.com/History

12) His design of the 'Farnsworth House' served as an influence to the design of Glass House by Philip Johnson.

Farnsworth houseFarnsworth house designed by Mies for his supposed lover Edith Farnsworth
Source: http://blog.vkvvisuals.com/design-icons-ludwig-mies-van-der-rohe/

13) Often he would go to the kilns to select one by one the bricks he wanted while working on the monument (now destroyed) to Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg; for suburban villas for wealthy businessmen, for low cost housing for the city of Berlins.

14) His vision at technology encouraged him to use maximum steel and glass. Also he said,”New materials are not necessarily superior, each material is only what we make it.”

15) He was not wealthy, but well-to-do. He received the usual architect's fee of 6 % of the gross cost of a building, but he was not a very careful manager of his income, according to his friends.

16) The most unknown:
Six favourite projects of his works:
1st – Illinois Institute of Technology's Crown hall, which is a single glass walled room measuring 120 feet by 220 feet, spanned by four huge trusses.
2nd – The Chicago Federal Center which is Mies' largest complex of high and low rise buildings
3rd – The Seagram building which distinctly illustrates 'Less is More.'
4th – Two 26 storied apartment house towers at 860 and 880 Lake Shore Drive that overlook Lake Michigan.
5th – The Chicago convention Hall, a place for 50,000 people to gather in unobstructed space under a trussed roof 720 feet square, but this was never materialized.
6th – The since-destroyed German Pavilion at the 1929 International Exposition at Barcelona.

Mies with a model of his masterpieceMies with a model of his masterpiece, the Crown Hall on the campus of IIT Chicago
Source: http://blog.vkvvisuals.com/design-icons-ludwig-mies-van-der-rohe/

17) 3 note-worthy honors include the Presidential Freedom Medal & the gold medal of the Royal Institute of British Architects and of the American Institute of Architects.

Lake shore apartmentLake shore apartment
Source: http://www.harboearch.com/getProject.php?projname=lakeshored

18) Mies' grandson Dirk Lohan and two partners led the firm after he died in 1969.

Mies and Philip JohnsonMies and Philip Johnson
Source: http://www.notesontheroad.com/Ying-s-Links/Today-s-Birthday-in-Architecture-Philip-Johnson.htmla

19) The World Trade Center, a pair of identical 110 storey 'Twin Towers' was designed by Mies faced the 9/11 attacks, it made a severe impact throughout the world.

Proponents of the Post-Modern style attacked the Modernism with clever statements such as “less is bore.”

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