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  7. AD Classics: IIT Master Plan and Buildings / Mies van der Rohe

AD Classics: IIT Master Plan and Buildings / Mies van der Rohe

AD Classics: IIT Master Plan and Buildings / Mies van der Rohe
AD Classics: IIT Master Plan and Buildings / Mies van der Rohe, © Hagen Stier - Crown Hall
© Hagen Stier - Crown Hall

Courtesy of MoMA © Depending on the photograph: Hagen Stier © Depending on the photograph: Hagen Stier Courtesy of MoMA +10

From the architect. In the year 1940, Armour Institute and Lewis Institute merged in Chicago to create the Illinois Institute of Technology. The merging of these two schools called for a new master plan for the university, and Mies van der Rohe was commissioned for the job. Mies' plan for the IIT campus was one of the largest projects he ever conceived and he developed it for twenty years. Today the campus contains 20 of his works, including the famous Crown Hall, which add up to be "the greatest concentration of Mies-designed buildings in the world."

More on the IIT Campus and Buildings after the break.

The master plan for the campus was based on a 24' by 24' grid that was the structural module used as a mechanical tool for locating building columns. "Orderliness was the real reason," Mies stated on his use of the grid. The dimension of it was determined by room size, accommodating classrooms, drafting rooms, and laboratory work, which were the three main types of expected activity to occur on the campus. Room sizes were determined from the sizes and arrangements of desks, drafting tables, and lab benches. This in turn began as a reverse planning order and determined the direction of the growth of the campus, where the furniture determined the room size, which then added up to the building size, and together the buildings created the campus.

The grid created the space between and within the two to three story buildings and incorporated Mies' concept of "universal space." His ideas on this included the expression of structure, exterior walls used as skin, and the overlapping placement of buildings to allow space to flow. The design challenge for Mies arose with programs that did not fit within the activities with which he structured the grid around, for example, the auditorium and stairs. In Mies' first approach to this problem he separated these components outside of the main building blocks. However, he continued reworking the plan so that they became part of the building blocks. In the final rendition he used his concept of universal space to solve the problem. The auditorium became a huge column-free space, allowing these specific programs to take their own forms free from the gridded structure. In this way, building structure was also not compromised by interior functions.

Courtesy of MoMA
Courtesy of MoMA

During the initial construction of the campus, the individual laboratory and classroom blocks were erected on the street grid so that they could harmonize with each other while they were built. The existing street grid was also incorporated into the campus area to determine green zones planted with acacia trees and traversed by foot paths allowing for a relationship with the buildings and nature, a concept also seen in other projects by Mies such as the Farnsworth House. This principle of order with a strict building organization and green zones resulted in a clear urban solution. In the second phase of construction, which began in 1952, the IIT Research Institute Buildings were executed in concrete or steel-frame construction with load bearing elements of floors set behind the facade clad in reinforced concrete as a fire precaution. This allowed for the construction of these buildings to be carried out in an economical fashion, with costs as little as $10 a square foot.

© Depending on the photograph: Hagen Stier
© Depending on the photograph: Hagen Stier

It was important to Mies that the buildings kept a modern style during the development of the campus, and maintained this look for the future. By confining himself to contemporary materials, glass and steel, he was able to craft the expression of modernity. This is especially noted in the S.R. Crown Hall, which is the College of Architecture and the most admired building of the collection. Designed in 1956, Crown Hall is a straightforward expression of construction and materiality. The building has an open plan that does not have the disruption of columns, once again creating "universal space." The only partitions in the building are free-standing oak partitions that mark different spaces for different activities. With a ceiling height of 18 feet and a massive floor area of 120' by 220', the architecture school contains perfect studio spaces that allow creative interaction among users. A timeless artistic expression of steel and glass, Crown Hall is now a National Historic Landmark.

© Depending on the photograph: Hagen Stier
© Depending on the photograph: Hagen Stier

Through the IIT campus, Mies refined the language of modern architecture, and in dedicating much of his time towards its development, he perfected his ideas on structure and proportion. With the campus including a large amount of Mies' works, the American Institute of Architects named the IIT campus one of the two hundred most significant works of architecture in the United States.

Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address. Cite: Adelyn Perez. "AD Classics: IIT Master Plan and Buildings / Mies van der Rohe" 16 May 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed . <http://www.archdaily.com/59816/ad-classics-iit-master-plan-and-buildings-mies-van-der-rohe/>
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32 Comments

Greg Grunloh · January 17, 2014

That looks like Wishnick Hall and not Siegel hall as tagged. I worked on the renovation of Wishnick and became very familiar with the building. Great article.

Kyle Redzinak · November 21, 2013

With the modernist architecture movement that started a century ago, I think Crown Hall really helps root this style of architecture. This movement is so complex and difficult to wrap your head around, Mies constructed a beautiful building that truly represented the modern style; material usage, versatility in functionalism, and the use of new technological advancements in the construction world. Mies helped establish modern architecture as a timeless style, a style that can be adaptive to any function or technological advancements in the future, because after all, most buildings will outlast their designed epoch.

50crowley · August 16, 2012

Aside from the aforementioned HVAC & sustainability issues, the IIT campus is also aesthetically oppressive and lacking in successful urban space. Ultimately, it encourages a lack of creativity, IMHO.

I was considering getting my Master's of Architecture at IIT until I flew all the way out to Chicago from NYC only to find an eerily empty campus (it was a Saturday Afternoon). I couldn't find any students smiling, much less engaging in social activities of any sort.
I attributed my findings to the unimaginative and poorly planned structures. Almost every building is a freestanding structure, resulting in a campus that provides no shelter from the elements and no place to retreat (socially). The only redeeming aspect (IMO) was the brand new Campus Center by Rem Koolhaas, which was a legitimately brilliant building built in the middle of a very complex pedestrian intersection.

HoànTèo · August 03, 2012

AD Classics: IIT Master Plan and Buildings / Mies van der Rohe | ArchDaily http://t.co/Pox4Umus via @archdaily

Maria Fidalgo · April 03, 2012

AD Classics: IIT Master Plan and Buildings / Mies van der Rohe | ArchDaily http://t.co/mQl7qg0t via @archdaily

Schang AUA (57) · March 28, 2012

para los q no entendieron el dodle de hoy http://t.co/dYlfFb5K Mies van der Rohe #arquitectura

Wonjin · March 27, 2012

RT @zoonggun: IIT ??? ? http://t.co/2qo54LP7 RT @googlekorea: ?? ?? ??? ??? ??... http://t.co/WEMt3Yys

? ? ? JG Moon · March 27, 2012

@grace1213 IIT Crown Hall :) http://t.co/ErT30gRM

verde? · March 27, 2012

IIT ??? ? http://t.co/ErT30gRM RT @googlekorea: ?? ?? ??? ??? ?? ? ?? ?? ?? 126?? ?? ?????. ?? ??? ??? ?? ??? ??? :-) http://t.co/y4ZBY7Wc

?????(Archi-Docent) · March 27, 2012

RT @zoonggun: IIT ??? ? http://t.co/2qo54LP7 RT @googlekorea: ?? ?? ??? ??? ??... http://t.co/WEMt3Yys

? ? ? JG Moon · March 27, 2012

IIT ??? ? http://t.co/ErT30gRM RT @googlekorea: ?? ?? ??? ??? ?? ? ?? ?? ?? 126?? ?? ?????. ?? ??? ??? ?? ??? ??? :-) http://t.co/y4ZBY7Wc

bertrand-venturini · February 24, 2012

AD Classics: IIT Master Plan and Buildings / Mies van der Rohe | ArchDaily http://t.co/GzeTxyJ8 via @archdaily

???? · December 10, 2011
veronica montesel · November 07, 2011

AD Classics: IIT Master Plan and Buildings / Mies van der Rohe | ArchDaily http://t.co/OkeYotp9 via @archdaily

Artweety · September 14, 2011

Always appreciate when @ArchDaily reminds us of the classics http://t.co/Di4rAxO
one of my favourites for sure

Schang AUA · September 06, 2011

pieza maestra, comprendiendo el silencio Mies van der Rohe | ArchDaily http://t.co/0vmslvy vía @archdaily

Schang AUA · August 31, 2011

AD Classics: IIT Master Plan and Buildings / Mies van der Rohe | ArchDaily http://t.co/0vmslvy vía @archdaily

Goutam Mitra · August 23, 2011

AD Classics: IIT Master Plan and Buildings / Mies van der Rohe | ArchDaily http://t.co/iAHQOCG via @archdaily

James Droske · June 03, 2010

http://trunc.it/8gmyr i wish st cloud would have had some cool architecture like this

Mies van der Rohe · June 02, 2010

IIT Master Plan and Buildings / Mies van der Rohe http://bit.ly/da0v2L They got it right except a few factual errors. It doesn&#39t age at all.

Infomancer · May 19, 2010

More gorgeous Mies: http://ow.ly/1qxUJ8 #architecture

MJ · May 18, 2010

You won't believe how much of my time is consumed by these buildings.

Ed Gauvreau · May 18, 2010

It's been a few years since I have been to IIT - the strengths and weaknesses of the campus were very apparent - still have major HVAC issues to resolve. FWIW, one of my former professors and then-chair of the School of Architecture at Notre Dame, Ambrose Richardson, studied under Mies at IIT (then Armour Institute of Technology).

i live in crown... · May 18, 2010 11:33 AM

You are exactly correct. The campus is highly unsustainable which is ironic because the education preaches it. Crown's lack of a great HVAC system is even evident in the interior photo where you can see the door is clearly propped open to allow air into the building.

i live in crown... · May 17, 2010

Too bad it is an oven in the summer and a freezer in the winter....

jan · May 17, 2010

i love the crown hall.

sharwe · May 17, 2010

A great architect in my heart

yu kai · September 20, 2011 07:27 PM

??SHARWE?????

The7in · May 17, 2010 05:13 AM

??·?·??????????????????

Giuseppe La Bua · May 17, 2010

RT @talkitect: RT| AD Classics: IIT Master Plan and Buildings / Mies van der Rohe: © Hagen Stier - Crown Hall
In the ye... http://bit.ly/cQbAQz @archdaily

Architekt R V Scholz · May 17, 2010

#architekt AD Classics: IIT Master Plan and Buildings / Mies van der Rohe: © Hagen Stier - Cro... http://bit.ly/cQbAQz #in http://dy.cx/c03

Architecture+Molding · May 16, 2010

AD Classics: IIT Master Plan and Buildings / Mies van der Rohe: © Hagen Stier - Crown Hall
In the year 1940, Armou... http://bit.ly/bMrWMa

Sven Fischer · May 16, 2010

RT @ArchitecPassion AD Classics: IIT Master Plan and Buildings © Hagen Stier - Crown Hall In the year 1940, Ar.. http://tinyurl.com/26oblgo

rental_watanabe 2.0 · May 16, 2010

?archi info? AD Classics: IIT Master Plan and Buildings / Mies van der Rohe http://dlvr.it/11cNJ #AD_Classics (archdaily) #rental_archiinfo

Leila Tomaselli · May 16, 2010

AD Classics: IIT Master Plan and Buildings / Mies van der Rohe via ArchDaily - © Hagen Stier - Crown ... http://tinyurl.com/2vj73nj

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© Hagen Stier - Crown Hall

AD Classics: IIT Master Plan and Buildings / Mies van der Rohe