There is perhaps no designer more associated with Modernism than Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Mies was an incredibly influential designer of the Bauhaus school in Germany. Mies ascended to Director of Bauhaus at a time when the Nazis were on the march. Consequently, the school’s prospects dwindled and Mies emigrated to America. Settling in Chicago, Mies was able to put a lasting stamp on his adopted city.
Mies started at the Armour Institute of Technology, where he refined his minimalist techniques. Mies reacted against ornamental, ornate and complex architecture, instead insisting on keeping his designs clean and pleasing to the eye. Mies’ influence on the city spread far and wide; he is responsible for many buildings on the IIT campus and also built a famous house in Plano, Illinois. However, he is still most closely associated with Chicago. Here are his most amazing works in the City With the Broad Shoulders.
Minerals and Metals Building
The Minerals and Metals Building was the first building designed for ITT’s campus. Completed in 1943, the building was the rare structure that was completed during World War II (due to shortages in building materials). The themes were strikingly modern and would be repeated throughout ITT. In exchange for using steel during the war, the building became a center of wartime training in technology, preparing “women’s defense training” and retraining for men whose jobs were made obsolete during the war. The building is the first salvo in a new and exciting design language for Mies, who was adapting his German Bauhaus techniques for the dynamic American century. It marked the first use of the rolled-steel I-beam by Mies, which he later used to great effect.