Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Mies van der Rohe: Born 126 Years Ago, Yesterday

"Google honors architect Mies van der Rohe with latest 'doodle'"
Culture Monster, Los Angeles Times (March 27, 2012)

"Benevolent Internet masters Google released the latest logo-tweaking tribute to an artist on Tuesday, honoring the 126th birthday of the late German American architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.

"With the letters to the search titan's name squared off and tucked behind the glass of a boxy rendering that evokes Mies van der Rohe's S.R. Crown Hall at the Illinois Institute of Technology (pictured), the doodle honors the modernist architect commonly associated with the aphorisms 'Less is more' and 'God is in the details.'

"Part of the German avant-garde who was also part of the Bauhaus design school in the 1920s and '30s, Mies van der Rohe immigrated to the U.S. in 1937 to head the architecture department at the Illinois Institute of Technology, where he would design many of the campus' buildings...."

What set Mies van der Rohe apart from architects who played 'hide the entrance,' in the Lemming's opinion, is that van der Rohe knew what he was doing. "Less is more" makes sense as a reaction to 19th century decorative exuberance. But when the "less" extends to making a building's door look like just another spot on a featureless wall?

Anyway, that Los Angeles Times post talks about van der Rohe, buildings, and has a photo of one of the master architect's pieces: the S.R. Crown Hall at the Illinois Institute of Technology. Part of it, anyway.

IBM Building, Chicago, Illinois, USA; J. Crocker; via Wikipedia (September 2, 2004)Happily, architects seem to have gotten past the "lets make a glass box" idea, and that's almost another topic.

Actually, the Lemming likes the 'glass box' style. When it's done sensibly. Steel and glass don't look like, or act like, stone and wood: something that Victorian-era architects didn't seem to appreciate. Seriously: metal support beams shaped to resemble Greek or Roman stone work? More topics.

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