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Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe: The Latest Architecture and News

The Second Studio Podcast: Interview with Phyllis Lambert

The Second Studio (formerly The Midnight Charette) is an explicit podcast about design, architecture, and the everyday. Hosted by Architects David Lee and Marina Bourderonnet, it features different creative professionals in unscripted conversations that allow for thoughtful takes and personal discussions.

A variety of subjects are covered with honesty and humor: some episodes are interviews, while others are tips for fellow designers, reviews of buildings and other projects, or casual explorations of everyday life and design. The Second Studio is also available on iTunes, Spotify, and YouTube.

This week David and Marina are joined by Phyllis Lambert, an architect, the Planning Director of the Seagram Headquarters, and the Founding Director Emeritus of the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montréal.

© The House of Patria© CCA© CCA© United Press International+ 12

A Virtual Tour of Mies van der Rohe’s Unbuilt Resor House

The Resor House was a hugely pivotal project for Mies van der Rohe, in both his life, and his career. It was his first commission in the United States and prior to landing in Chicago, he lived for two months on the site of the house near Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Its design was unique for Mies in its rural landscape setting and material choices, mainly its wood-clad exterior and interior. While it was never constructed due to cost overruns, the design documents and working models were collected by MoMA in NY, where the client, Helen Resor was on the Board of Directors. This video traces a digital reconstruction of the house — using those archival documents — to serve as the subject of an in-depth tour and analysis. What sorts of discoveries are to be found inside this unbuilt masterpiece? 

Helmut Jahn, Architect of Chicago’s Thompson Center Passes Away at 81

Chicago’s most prolific architect, Helmut Jahn has passed away on Saturday afternoon in a cycling accident. He was struck by two vehicles while riding his bicycle in Campton Hills, in the Chicago suburbs. The German-American designer is best known for his postmodern Thompson Center, currently under threat of demolition and United Airlines Terminal 1 at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.

Courtesy of Helmut JahnCourtesy of Helmut JahnPassenger Terminal Complex Suvarnabhumi Airport . Image © Rainer Viertlböckthe Thompson Center. Image © Rainer Viertlböck+ 12

Floodwaters Threaten Once More The Farnsworth House

Built in a flood plain along the Fox River, the Farnsworth House, designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe is endangered again. Floodwaters are threatening the modernist house once more, as water levels are rising to reach the top of the house’s steel columns, covering its lower terrace.

121 Definitions of Architecture

There are at least as many definitions of architecture as there are architects or people who comment on the practice of it. While some embrace it as art, others defend architecture’s seminal social responsibility as its most definitive attribute. To begin a sentence with “Architecture is” is a bold step into treacherous territory. And yet, many of us have uttered — or at least thought— “Architecture is…” while we’ve toiled away on an important project, or reflected on why we’ve chosen this professional path.

Most days, architecture is a tough practice; on others, it is wonderfully satisfying. Perhaps, though, most importantly, architecture is accommodating and inherently open to possibility.

This collection of statements illustrates the changing breadth of architecture’s significance; we may define it differently when talking among peers, or adjust our statements for outsiders.

The Case For A Smaller House: Talking Clients Out of The Big House They Want to Build

As architects we are often conflicted: what do we do when we have clients who want really big houses, houses that by any measure surpass anything they could really need? How do we walk them back from the idea that they need 3,500 square feet of home for a family of four?

On one hand, we want to design it for them. In fact, a bigger project keeps us employed and financially solvent much longer. On the other hand, how do we reconcile that with the idea of sustainability and the architect's responsibility to promote it?

9 Incredibly Famous Architects Who Didn't Possess an Architecture Degree

Had the worst jury ever? Failed your exams? Worry not! Before you fall on your bed and cry yourself to sleep—after posting a cute, frantic-looking selfie on Instagram, of course (hashtag so dead)—take a look at this list of nine celebrated architects, all of whom share a common trait. You might think that a shiny architecture degree is a requirement to be a successful architect; why else would you put yourself through so many years of architecture school? Well, while the title of "architect" may be protected in many countries, that doesn't mean you can't design amazing architecture—as demonstrated by these nine architects, who threw convention to the wind and took the road less traveled to architectural fame.

How to Pronounce the Names of 22 Notable Architects

There’s no doubt that one of the best things about architecture is its universality. Wherever you come from, whatever you do, however you speak, architecture has somehow touched your life. However, when one unexpectedly has to pronounce a foreign architect’s name... things can get a little tricky. This is especially the case when mispronunciation could end up making you look less knowledgeable than you really are. (If you're really unlucky, it could end up making you look stupid in front of your children and the whole world.)

To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of 22 architects with names that are a little difficult to pronounce, and paired them with a recording in which their names are said impeccably. Listen and repeat as many times as it takes to get it right, and you’ll be prepared for any intellectual architectural conversation that comes your way. 

Mies van der Rohe's Tower in London That Never Was

In the 1960s James Stirling asked Ludwig Mies van der Rohe why he didn’t design utopian visions for new societies, like those of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Broadacre City or Corbusier’s Cité Radieuse. Mies replied that he wasn’t interested in fantasies, but only in “making the existing city beautiful.” When Stirling recounted the conversation several decades later it was to the audience of a public enquiry convened in London – he was desperately trying to save Mies’ only UK design from being rejected in planning.

It couldn’t be done: the scheme went unbuilt; the drawings were buried in a private archive. Now, for the first time in more than thirty years, Mies’ Mansion House Square will be presented to the public in both a forthcoming exhibition at the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)—Mies van der Rohe and James Stirling: Circling the Square—and, if it is successful, a book currently being funded through Kickstarter by the REAL foundation.

Vizualisation. Image Courtesy Drawing Matter, REAL foundation. Image © John DonatInterior vizualisation. Image Courtesy Drawing Matter, REAL foundation. Image © John DonatUrban plan. Image Courtesy Drawing Matter, REAL foundation. Image © John DonatVizualisation. Image Courtesy Drawing Matter, REAL foundation. Image © John Donat+ 5

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

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

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

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

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

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 2BCourtesy of Atelier 2BDesign and Allied Arts High School. Image Courtesy of Atelier 2BOut-of-School-Time Youth Program. Image Courtesy of Atelier 2B+ 8

Exploring Chicago's Architectural Legacy Through 5 Exceptional Projects

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

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.

The Barcelona Pavilion was intended to embody this moment. Free of external ornament, the building was made of the most luxurious materials. Walls were fashioned of thin plates of luminous semi-precious stone, from green polished marble to golden onyx. According to Philip Johnson’s influential account, they didn’t physically limit space, but rather suggested flowing movement, and didn’t divide so much as bind; bringing the inside to the outside by continuing beyond the roofline into the garden. While the columns provided a kind of cartesian grid of points tethering the roof, the walls were positioned freely. In the courtyard was a bronze nude, arms aloft in a gesture that might be dance, might be grief, reflected in a still pool. With the asymmetrical walls, the luxurious stone, the bright light, the podium on which it sat; the pavilion was at the same time both a hyper-modernist building, and a classical ruin.

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

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.