Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe – Architecture Style and Renowned Projects

A civilization’s values and aspirations are embodied in architecture when it is executed well; it conveys what was important to a particular group of people at a particular historical point and transforms an artist’s vision into a tangible, enduring form.

The German master Ludwig Mies van der Rohe was one such artist, whose creations so profoundly shaped his era that it is unthinkable to imagine certain decades or cityscapes without his influence. Along with architects like Walter Gropius and Le Corbusier, Mies promoted simplicity as the foundation of truly modern architecture, eschewing ornamentation in favor of clarity and pressing functionality as the single most important factor in any structure’s aesthetic appeal.

But Mies didn’t receive any formal architectural education; he started working with his father on numerous construction sites, and there he discovered the architect in him. Being girdled by his father’s stone-cutting business as a child, Mies was particularly sensitive to the selection of materials for his designs, which included fine stone, chrome, bronze, and even brick.

 Tugendhat House by Mies Van der Rohe – Photo Credit: Libor Teply  

Many of his structures, particularly the Tugendhat House and Seagram Building, were very expensive to construct and are renowned for both their fine craftsmanship and their use of industrial building techniques. Mies’ minimalist design has been very well received for almost a century; even people who are not aware of its origins frequently use the adage “less is more.”

   These traits can be found in his designs:

  1. Simple rectangular forms.
  2. Open floor plans, very popular in modern architecture.
  3. Exposed but very tidy structural details
  4. Glass is used to allow the Surrounding into the building.
  5. Expansive use of steel along glass.

Mies Van Der Rohe’s Works

1. Barcelona pavilion

  • raised on a podium made of travertine are a series of separate wall planes and two pools of water, creating a succession of spaces that flow into one another.
  •  The indoor and outdoor spaces are intertwined into a complicated constellation where the walls no longer enclose space but instead structure it. 
  • Mies stated, “I have striven for a series of spatial effects rather than a row of individual rooms.”
  • The larger pool “in which the water appears to be light green” is open and light in contrast to the smaller, more enclosed pool, which is lined with black glass reflecting Georg Kolbe’s sculpture entitled “Dawn.”
  • The pavilion, which was originally known as the German Pavilion, served as the symbol of Germany after World War I by emulating the country’s developing modern culture while maintaining a strong connection to its ancient past. 
  • Mies’ Barcelona Pavilion served as a stepping stone into both his future career and architectural modernism, thanks to its elegant and sleek design combined with rich natural materials.
Barcelona Pavilion – Photo Credit: Adria Goula

2. Cullinan hall at the Museum of fine arts, Houston

  • William Ward Watkin designed the original structure of the museum in the Neoclassical architectural style in 1924.
  • The Watkins building was a typical cellular museum, so the new Mies room’s expansive openness offered a striking contrast and counterpoint.
  • Mies inserted Cullinan Hall right into the courtyard created by the Watkins building’s U-shape. 
  • Similar to his earlier Crown Hall at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, he used deep steel girders that were exposed above the roof to span the area. 
  • In order to emphasise the site’s fan-like shape, the new north façade was bowed. At the time, Cullinan Hall was the largest example of Mies’ alleged “universal” design. 
  • Its floor-to-ceiling, north-facing glass wall gave the impression that it was incredibly large while also openly and alluringly displaying its contents to the public. 
Cullinan Hall, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Cullinan Hall – Photo Credit: Ezra Stoller

3. The Farnsworth House

  • The building’s modern classical design embodies both Mies’ maxim “less is more” and the International Style of architecture.
  • It is set on the floodplain of the Fox River and is one of only three houses built by Mies in the United States.
  •  The house is delicately anchored to the forest floor and has continuous glass walls that open up to the outside world. 
  • Eight white vertical I-beams that connect the rectangular roof and floor slabs with floor-to-ceiling plate glass make up the majority of the house’s structural support.  
  • These beams support the building, which is suspended 1.5 meters above the ground and 2.5 meters above the Fox River, which is only 30 meters to the south.
  •  A few steps below the house is a rectangular offset patio that is covered in the same travertine as the floor slab of the house.
  • This building, along with others by Mies, stood out from the sea of mid-century modernism due to its clean lines, careful attention to detail, and thoughtful material selection.

4. Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin

  • This 1968 structure transforms the traditional museum concept of a closed building with exhibition rooms into an open-plan, flexible space.
  • The structure is only supported by two steel columns on either side of its 64.8 m length, which frees up the corners and gives the structure a light appearance. 
  • The definition of a usable portion of universal space is expressed in a stark, spare statement made of steel and glass. It might bring to mind the Altes Museum by Schinkel from 1824. 
  • No previous tradition in museum design can be traced to the long, unsupported cantilever corners of the roof that extend beyond the two thin columns on either side.
  • A common feature of the majority of Mies’ buildings is that the Structure elevates the surroundings with subdued dominance but without being overly imposing.
Neue Nationalgalerie – Photo Credit: Marcus Ebener

 Mies’ minimalist design has been very well received for almost a century; even people who are not aware of its origins frequently use the adage “less is more”.

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