Students at UIC Barcelona Create 1:1 Plans of Famous Buildings

12:00 - 21 May, 2016

In early 2016, we introduced Vardehaugen, a Norwegian office that created a series of life sized drawings of their projects in their own backyard. After publishing this exercise on our site, Spanish architect and academic Alberto T. Estévez reached out to tell us that this same exercise has been carried out at ESARQ (UIC Barcelona) for the past 10 years with second and third year architecture students. According to Estévez, the exercise "represents something irreplaceable: it brings you closer to experiencing life-sized spaces of classic works of architecture" from the Farnsworth house to José Antonio Coderch's Casa de la Marina.

About 10 years ago I had an idea for a special teaching exercise, one that I thought would be interesting and instructive at the same time. So I started doing the practice class we’ve been talking about with architecture students in their second and third year of study at ESARQ (UIC Barcelona): the School of Architecture, which I founded 20 years ago as the first Director at the International University of Catalonia.

Now, we do the lesson every year in the Architectural Composition class that I teach, which discusses the theory and history of architecture.

Coderch Building. Image © Alberto T. Estévez Coderch Building. Image © Alberto T. Estévez Coderch Building. Image © Alberto T. Estévez Coderch Building. Image © Alberto T. Estévez +25

Spotlight: Mies van der Rohe

07:30 - 27 March, 2016
Spotlight: Mies van der Rohe, Barcelona Pavilion. Image © Gili Merin
Barcelona Pavilion. Image © Gili Merin

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (27 March 1886 - 17 August 1969) is one of the most influential architects of the 20th century, known for his role in the development of the most enduring architectural style of the era: modernism. Born in AachenGermany, Mies' career began in the influential studio of Peter Behrens, where Mies worked alongside other two other titans of modernism, Walter Gropius and Le Corbusier. For almost a century, Mies' minimalist style has proved very popular; his famous aphorism "less is more" is still widely used, even by those who are unaware of its origins.

20 Things You Didn't Know About Mies van der Rohe

06:00 - 27 March, 2016
20 Things You Didn't Know About Mies van der Rohe, Philip Johnson, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, y Phyllis Lambert frente a una imagen de la Torre Seagram, Nueva York, 1955. Impresión, 7½ × 9⅜ in. Fotógrafo desconocido. Fonds Phyllis Lambert, Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montreal. Imagen © United Press International
Philip Johnson, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, y Phyllis Lambert frente a una imagen de la Torre Seagram, Nueva York, 1955. Impresión, 7½ × 9⅜ in. Fotógrafo desconocido. Fonds Phyllis Lambert, Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montreal. Imagen © United Press International

Today marks 130 years since the birth of German architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. In honor of this tremendously influential figure, we're shining some light into the lesser known facts about Mies' life in order to better understand and contextualize his architecture.

For this, our colleagues at ArchDaily en Español have referred to "Vidas construidas, Biografías de arquitectos" (Constructed Lives, Biographies of Architects), a book by Anatxu Zabalbeascoa and Javier Rodríguez Marcos. This text, released by publisher Gustavo Gili, features the biographies of 20 of the world's most celebrated architects, from the Renaissance to the Modern movement. Each story is a fascinating journey into the lives of each architect, and the details allow us to understand the genesis of many works that are today considered classics.

We've chosen 20 facts that reveal the thoughts, influences and decisions that brought Ludwig Mies van der Rohe's architecture to the forefront of modernism.

Kevin Roche Reflects on His Five Decade Career, From Beginnings in Ireland to His US Career

04:00 - 17 February, 2016
Kevin Roche Reflects on His Five Decade Career, From Beginnings in Ireland to His US Career, Kevin Roche (2016). Image © Gerald Wenner
Kevin Roche (2016). Image © Gerald Wenner

In an exclusive thirty minute-long discussion with Kevin Roche, described in this interview as "arguably the greatest living architect you've never heard of," Monocle's Steve Bloomfield hears about his early years in practice through to the evolution of his design philosophy over a career which has spanned five decades.

Atelier 2B's "Soft in the Middle" Rethinks Modernism for An Age of Collaboration and Sharing

09:30 - 18 November, 2015
Atelier 2B's "Soft in the Middle" Rethinks Modernism for An Age of Collaboration and Sharing, Courtesy of Atelier 2B
Courtesy of Atelier 2B

In his book We Have Never Been Modern, philosopher Bruno Latour concludes that an inability to make humanity and nature inherently separate is one of Modernism’s most misguided tropes. Thus, contemporary designers that hope to riff on or have continuity with modernism must understand that architecture, even at its most aestheticized, is not hermetically sealed off from the outside world - and that therefore modernism is not a plateau of design, but another base camp on the road to further refinement.

In Chicago, the city where Modernism reached both its metaphoric and physical peak, Atelier 2B, a team of Yewon Ji, Nicolas Lee, Ryan Otterson, recently shared the top-five prize of the Chicago Architecture Foundation's ChiDesign Competition (part of the Chicago Architecture Biennial) for their project Soft in the Middle: The Collaborative Core. Indebted to the legacy of Mies and the International Style, Atelier 2B proposed a Modernist-tower-redux that (externally at least) is composed of three stacked rectangular volumes bisected with terraces, set back from the street by a large public plaza. The project brief called for “a new center for architecture, design and education,” in a competition judged by critics including Stanley Tigerman, David Adjaye, Ned Cramer, Monica Ponce de Leon, and Billie Tsien.

Courtesy of Atelier 2B Courtesy of Atelier 2B Design and Allied Arts High School. Image Courtesy of Atelier 2B Out-of-School-Time Youth Program. Image Courtesy of Atelier 2B +8

Exploring Chicago's Architectural Legacy Through 5 Exceptional Projects

08:00 - 16 November, 2015
Exploring Chicago's Architectural Legacy Through 5 Exceptional Projects, The Chicago Skyline. © Joseph Sohm / shutterstock.com
The Chicago Skyline. © Joseph Sohm / shutterstock.com

Chicago has long been known for distinctive architecture, and this year’s inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial has only furthered that reputation. Although it is nearly impossible to narrow down the countless iconic structures, in celebration of the Biennial, we have compiled five Chicago buildings that highlight the many phases of the city’s architectural history.

A Virtual Look Into Mies van der Rohe's Barcelona Pavilion

09:30 - 18 September, 2015
A Virtual Look Into Mies van der Rohe's Barcelona Pavilion, Courtesy of Archilogic
Courtesy of Archilogic

The Barcelona Pavilion was officially only used once, and that was on the 27th of May, 1929, when King Alfonso XIII of Spain participated in a ceremony for its opening. Its role, according to an official statement by President Paul von Hindenburg, was to “present the Spirit of the New Germany: simplicity and clarity of means and intentions—everything is open, nothing is concealed.” As the first official participation of Germany in an international event since the catastrophic end of the First World War, it was a day of enormous symbolic importance, attended by diplomats, aristocrats and dignitaries. Within a few years the peace would collapse, in Barcelona as much as in Berlin, but for a moment, in May, modernity was met with optimism.

Mies van der Rohe's Lafayette Park Named National Historic Landmark

16:16 - 6 August, 2015
Mies van der Rohe's Lafayette Park Named National Historic Landmark, AD Classics: Lafayette Park / Mies van der Rohe. Image © Jamie Schafer
AD Classics: Lafayette Park / Mies van der Rohe. Image © Jamie Schafer

One of the first and most successful examples of urban renewal, Detroit's 78-acre Lafayette Park is known for being the world's largest collection of works by Mies van der Rohe. Now, the mid-century modern "masterpiece" is the first urban renewal project to be declared a National Historic Landmark. This is partially due to the fact that, as Ruth Mills, architectural historian for Quinn Evans Architects told the Detroit Free Press, "Lafayette Park was one of the few urban renewal projects that's done it successfully." It is now Michigan's 41st landmark.

New Images Released of Mecanoo's Plan to Modernize Mies' D.C. Library

18:00 - 3 April, 2015
New Images Released of Mecanoo's Plan to Modernize Mies' D.C. Library, © Mecanoo, Martinez + Johnson Architecture
© Mecanoo, Martinez + Johnson Architecture

Mecanoo and Martinez + Johnson Architecture has released their completed preliminary designs for the modernization of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library - the only library and Washington D.C. building ever designed by Mies van der Rohe. The team’s competition-winning scheme aims to improve “Mies in a contemporary Miesian way.”

“While not final, these renderings demonstrate the amazing possibilities as we work to transform this historic building into a center for learning, innovation and engagement for the District,” says the D.C. Public Library. Updated images and more information about the design, after the break.

Luftwerk to Illuminate Mies' Farnsworth House this Weekend

00:00 - 16 October, 2014
Luftwerk to Illuminate Mies' Farnsworth House this Weekend, © Kate Joyce, Courtesy of Luftwerk
© Kate Joyce, Courtesy of Luftwerk

Starting tomorrow (October 17), Chicago-based artists Petra Bachmaier and Sean Gallero of Luftwerk will be transforming Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House into a “canvas of light and sound” with the digital installation, INsite. “An exploration of the philosophy of Mies through light,” INsite will offer an entirely new nighttime experience at the Plano residence that highlights the architecture’s famed characteristics with an interactive light show pulsating to the original “sonic exploration” of Owen Clay Condon.

A video preview of the installation, after the break.

David Chipperfield's "Sticks and Stones" Toys with Van Der Rohe's Bones in Berlin

00:00 - 1 October, 2014
© Gili Merin
© Gili Merin

In Berlin, Mies van der Rohe’s Neue Nationalgalerie has begun a new phase today with the opening of David Chipperfield’s intervention, a prologue to the imminent restoration which the famed British architect is about to undertake. Completed in 1968, the gallery was Mies’ last project and his final masterpiece; for nearly fifty years, nobody dared to touch it - until now. Marking this event is a large, site-specific installation, created by Chipperfield as an attempt to engage Mies in a spatial experiment (or perhaps a last, apologetic tribute to the 20th century master) moments before he is about to embark on a mission which will, inevitably, transform Mies’ ultimate legacy.

© Gili Merin © David von Becker © David von Becker © David von Becker +13

25 Free Architecture Books You Can Read Online

01:00 - 18 August, 2014
25 Free Architecture Books You Can Read Online

If you don't have access to an architecture library (and even if you do), sifting through shelves can take hours. Buying books can be even more painful — for your wallet, at least. Instead, why not browse this list of 25 books that are all free and easily accessible online? Some are well-known classics of architecture literature, but we hope you find a few surprises as well.

Video: Artist Animates 5 Iconic Modern Homes

00:00 - 29 July, 2014

Five of history's most iconic modern houses are re-created as illustrations in this two-minute video created by Matteo Muci. Set to the tune of cleverly timed, light-hearted music, the animation constructs the houses piece-by-piece on playful pastel backgrounds. The five homes featured in the short but sweet video are Le Courbusier's Villa Savoye, Gerrit Rietveld's Rietveld Schröder House, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe's Farnsworth House, Philip Johnson's Glass House and Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater.

Luftwerk Launches Kickstarter Campaign to Transform Mies’ Farnsworth House into Visual Spectacular

00:00 - 19 May, 2014
Luftwerk Launches Kickstarter Campaign to Transform Mies’ Farnsworth House into Visual Spectacular, © Luftwerk
© Luftwerk

The creative minds behind Luftwerk have turned to Kickstarter to crowdfund a project that would transform Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House into an immersive light show. Similar to their installation at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater residence in 2011, artistic duo Petra Bachmaier and Sean Gallero plan to illuminate the “structural minimalism and transparency” of the house in a way that would offer a new perspective of the modern masterpiece. 

Check out a video of the proposed light show and Luftwerk’s work at Fallingwater, after the break...

9 Architects Reflect on the Homes That Most Inspired Them

01:00 - 1 May, 2014
The homes that inspire architects.
The homes that inspire architects.

Where do you receive inspiration? Nalina Moses asked the question to nine contemporary residential architects, asking each to choose one residence that had left an impression on them. The following answers were first published on the AIA’s website in the article “Homing Instinct."

When nine accomplished residential architects were asked to pick a house—any house—that has left the greatest impression on them as designers, most of their choices ran succinctly along the canon of American or European Modern architecture. Two—Alvar Aalto’s Villa Mairea and Pierre Chareau’s La Maison de Verre—were even tapped twice. 

If the houses these designers chose weren’t surprising, the reasons they chose them were. Rather than groundbreaking style or technologies, what they cited were the moments of comfort, excitement, and refinement they offered: the restful proportions of a bedroom, the feel of a crafted wood handrail, an ocean view unfolding beyond an outdoor stair.

Light Matters: Richard Kelly, The Unsung Master Behind Modern Architecture’s Greatest Buildings

01:00 - 29 April, 2014
Light Matters: Richard Kelly, The Unsung Master Behind Modern Architecture’s Greatest Buildings, Seagram Building, New York.
Seagram Building, New York.

Richard Kelly illuminated some of the twentieth century’s most iconic buildings: the Glass House, Seagram Building and Kimbell Art Museum, to name a few. His design strategy was surprisingly simple, but extremely successful. 

Lighting for architecture has been and still often is dominated by an engineering viewpoint, resigned to determining sufficient illuminance levels for a safe and efficient working environment. With a background in stage lighting, Kelly introduced a scenographic perspective for architectural lighting. His point of view might look self-evident to today’s architectural community, but it was revolutionary for his time and has strongly influenced modern architecture.

Read more about Richard Kelly’s remarkable, and unsung, contribution to architecutre, after the break.

Entrance, Seagram Building, New York. Image © Ezra Stoller/Esto Seagram Building, New York. Image © Thomas Schielke Entrance, Seagram Building, New York. Image © Ezra Stoller/Esto Bar, Four Seasons Restaurant, Seagram Building, New York. Image © Hagen Stier +11

Mies, the Modernist Man of Letters

01:00 - 17 April, 2014
Mies, the Modernist Man of Letters, Mies van der Rohe with smoke, 1957; photographed for Life magazine. Image Courtesy of Frank Scherschel/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images
Mies van der Rohe with smoke, 1957; photographed for Life magazine. Image Courtesy of Frank Scherschel/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

This review of Detlef Mertins' book "Mies" - by Thomas de Monchaux - originally appeared in Metropolis Magazine as "Mies Reconsidered". According to de Monchaux, Mertins reveals the modernist master as a voracious reader who interpreted a wide variety of influences to arrive at his stripped-down style.

The quintessential page of the 528 that make up Detlef Mertins’s monumental new monograph on Ludwig Mies van der Rohe—entitled simply Mies (Phaidon, 2014)—is 155. There, you will find a reproduction, a page within a page, of page 64 of Romano Guardini’s 1927 book Letters from Lake Como—a book about modernity and human subjectivity—with Mies’s own annotations penciled in the margins, in a surprisingly ornate and delicate hand. 

And there, you will find Mertins’s notes on Mies’s notes on Guardini: “Of all the books in Mies’s library, Guardini’s Letters is the most heavily marked. Mies highlighted passage after passage with bold and rapid margin strokes and wrote key words diagonally and in large script across the first pages of many of the chapters: Haltung (stance), Erkenntnis (knowledge), Macht (power).” Mertins’s vivid marginality, his attention to the divine details along edges, recalls the experience of reading the Talmud, that commentary on Jewish law and scripture in which, by marking and emending earlier readers’ marks and emendations, generations of rabbis enacted an intimate conversation across time and space. 

Read on for more insight into Mies' influences.

Mies van der Rohe, 860–880 Lake Shore Drive Apartment Buildings, Chicago, 1948–51; under construction, 1950–1. Image Courtesy of Chicago History Museum Mies van der Rohe, Westmount Square, Montreal, 1965–8; plaza. Image Courtesy of Chicago History Museum Mies van der Rohe, Friedrichstrasse Skyscraper project; Berlin, 1921-2, opaque version of photomontage. Image Courtesy of Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin, Photo: Markus Hawlik Mies, wearing glasses and reading, with model of new IBM building in background, ca. 1969–71. Image Courtesy of Chicago History Museum +10

Video: S. R. Crown Hall / Mies van der Rohe

00:00 - 27 September, 2013

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. Enjoy the video and don't forget to check our AD Classics on the IIT Master Plan and Buildings.