March 27 – Happy Birthday, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

Posted on March 27, 2015

I really love to discover autodidacts.

(An autodidact is someone who is self-educated.)

Born in Germany on this date in 1886, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe was largely self-educated but managed to become an architect. As a matter of fact, even without the university training of most architects, Mies was so important in his field, he is considered one of the pioneers of modern architecture...

(...along with such luminaries as Frank Lloyd Wright!) 

Modern architecture such as Mies's is clean and streamlined, seemingly simple. Mies called it skin-and-bones architecture; some people call it minimalist. It is not fussy or ornate.

Mies often said, “Less is more.”

Mies was connected to the famous German art school known as Bauhaus (School of Building); Bauhaus was dedicated to creating a world in which all arts, including architecture, would be brought together. It was all about modernist thought, art, and design. Mies was the third architect-director of the school, serving from 1930 until the school's closure in 1933. Why did Mies and the other directors decide to close the school? The school under pressure from the Nazis, who thought the school to be a center of communist ideas. To the Nazis, modern art and architecture weren't “German enough.”

But even with the school closed, Bauhaus continued to influence art, architecture, and design as the students and pupils left Germany and emigrated all over the world.

Mies ended up in the U.S., and he took the effort to become a full-fledged citizen. He lived in the United States the rest of his life, becoming the head of the architecture department of the Illinois Institute of Technology and working on buildings on the campus and elsewhere in Chicago. He built homes for wealthy buildings, the Seagram Building in New York City, and many other projects.

What do you think of his work?
Mies designed some furniture
as well as many buildings.

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