Modern architecture, which was pioneered by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, has been a major influence on the development of architecture in the 20th century. With his minimalist yet strong designs, Mies van der Rohe set the tone for modernism in architecture, using simple forms, geometric shapes, and an emphasis on functionality. His iconic buildings, such as the Seagram Building and the Barcelona Pavilion, represent some of the most iconic works of modernist architecture. In this blog post, we will explore Mies van der Rohe’s work and its impact on modern architecture.
What is Modernist Architecture?
Modernism is widely regarded as the single most important new style or philosophy of architecture and design of the 20th century. It was associated with an analytical approach to the function of buildings, a rational use of materials, structural innovation, and the elimination of ornament. Buildings of the modernist movement are characterized by an emphasis on volume, asymmetrical compositions, and minimal ornamentation. These buildings are often designed using basic geometric forms and characterized by flat planes, large windows, and open interior spaces. Minimalism is also an important aspect of modernist architecture, where the focus is on clean lines and a lack of decorative elements. As a result, these buildings have a strong sense of simplicity and clarity.
Who is Mies van der Rohe?
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe is renowned for his highly influential modernist architecture. His works formed the basis of modernist architecture. Some of his most iconic works include the following.
Farnsworth House (1951), Plano, Illinois
This house is considered a masterpiece of modernist architecture, and is one of the most important buildings of the 20th century. It features a minimalist design with flat roof, expansive glass walls, and open floor plan.
Photo Credit: William Zbaren
The Barcelona Pavilion (1929), Barcelona, Spain
This iconic building features a flat roof and cuboid shaped spaces connected by slender marble and glass walls. It is considered an excellent example of modernist architecture, with its emphasis on simplicity and clean lines.
Photo Credit: Quim Llenas
Chicago Federal Complex (1974), Chicago, Illinois
This complex of five buildings in downtown Chicago was designed by Mies van der Rohe in 1951. The buildings feature steel frames and exterior walls made from a combination of brick, glass, and metal.
Photo Credit: James Peters
Crown Hall (1956), Chicago, Illinois
Crown Hall is an iconic modernist building located on the campus of the Illinois Institute of Technology. It is known for its simple but powerful form, with large glass windows and flat roof.
Photo Credit: Eric Allix Rogers
Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library (1972), Washington D.C.
This library, designed by Mies van der Rohe, stands as an iconic tribute to civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. It features a sleek design with glass walls and expansive open spaces.
Photo Credit: Robert Benson
Seagram Building (1958), New York, New York
The Seagram Building was the first skyscraper built with the International Style in mind. It features bronze cladding on the exterior and an interior with a grand open lobby featuring travertine walls.
Photo Credit: Dan DeLuca
860-880 North Lake Shore Drive (1951), Chicago, Illinois
These towers are an iconic part of the Chicago skyline. They feature a sleek design with exposed steel beams and glass walls that frame stunning views of Lake Michigan.
Photo Credit: Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates
Modernist buildings are inspiring to look at for commercial design, as they are functional & minimalistic while offering clean, simple designs. Mies van der Rohe’s work has inspired cities across the country, especially in the city of Chicago. Though he passed away almost sixty years ago, his work lives on through his designs that have stood the test of time.
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