Mediating Mies: Dirk Lohan’s Langham Hotel Lobby at the IBM Building

The former in . Image Courtesy of DesignCurial

In 2013 the former IBM Building in Chicago, Mies van der Rohe’s last completed skyscraper, underwent a significant renovation as a part of the tower was converted into a hotel. In this article, originally published in Blueprint issue #338 as “Lobbying for Mies van der Rohe,” Anthea Gerrie catches up with Dirk Lohan – the Chicago architect who helped his grandfather design the building nearly 50 years ago, and who was called back in to design the new hotel’s entrance lobby.

“It’s not very Mies,” says Dirk Lohan dubiously, in one of the great understatements of the year. We are standing in the double-height reception hall of the Langham Chicago hotel with what looks like dozens of multicoloured glass balloons swimming above us and a mirror-glass frieze adding to a cacophony of glitz and dazzle.

It is indeed the very antithesis of the aesthetic of the architect known for the phrase “less is more”. But then the audacious idea of converting an office building by the most functionalist of architects into a five-star hotel was always going to be problematic.

Mies’ IBM Building Gets Lavish Refurbishment

© Jeffery Howe

Mies van der Rohe’s last constructed skyscraper, the IBM building in Chicago, recently underwent a significant transformation: the modernist office building is now a 316-room luxury hotel. An interesting post on the ArchitectureChicago Plus blog weighs in on the building’s history and ponders: will Mies’ minimalist aesthetic be compromised by its new lavish furnishings? Read it all here.

AD Classics: IBM Building / Mies van der Rohe

© Jeffery Howe

Completed four years after architect ‘s passing, the became one of the cities most prestigious addresses. A pure symbol of the architecture of the time, the almost 700 foot tall rectangle sits on a raised plinth that helps it to maintain a uniform height given the unevenness of the site; State Street to the structure’s west inclines steeply.

More on the IBM Building, also known as 330 North Wabash, after the break.