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  #1  
Old Posted Dec 5, 2006, 2:15 AM
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Mies in Chicago: Perfection or Eyesore?

Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe's Chicago buildings are immediately recognizable as his designs: 860-880 Lake Shore Drive, IBM, Federal Center, Illinois Center and on. Few modern architects can make a similar claim for their works. Even those buildings that were Mies inspiration such as Lake Point Tower, or influenced such as the Daley Center, Sears Tower and arguably John Hancock, Marina City, 333 Wacker, etc. etc. are collectively Miesian. They form the basis of 1950s, '60s and early '70s architectual design in Chicago.

Today many view his works as dark, teutonic, or utilitarian to the point of being inhuman. Architecture not as art but as pure form. To others they represent perfection. The absolute definition of form following fuction, free of a concrete blanket and devoid of purposeless ornamentation. Taken in perspective, in their day Mies buildings were a radical departure from the mondane of the earlier modern movement and from the general mediocrity of the period architecture. The reality of Mies concepts is that his narrow interpretation left little room for variability. Even arguably his most beautiful design, Lake Point Tower, is little more than a curvelinear Federal Center. Recognizability had its drawbacks in commonality.

Mies was certainly the most influentual architect of his time, in Chicago at least. Whether his buildings represent perfection or an eyesore is in the beholder. To me a Chicago without Mies would be unimaginable.
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  #2  
Old Posted Dec 5, 2006, 3:28 AM
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I really can't wait to go there and see his work in person. I think then I will make my true judgment on how it works and feels.
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  #3  
Old Posted Dec 5, 2006, 3:50 AM
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Not quite in Chicago:


Proof enough for me
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  #4  
Old Posted Dec 5, 2006, 4:12 AM
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Modernism works best when it's contrasted with other architecture. Mies got that right with his locations and the fact that he did it first. When cities became inundated with only modern architecture, and pale imitations at that, they became eyesores.
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  #5  
Old Posted Dec 5, 2006, 4:30 AM
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Mies and his principles define beauty in architecture for me. The more I learn about him, his buildings, and his theories, the more I appreciate his genius, and understand his downfalls.
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  #6  
Old Posted Dec 5, 2006, 6:36 AM
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I won't go with perfection, i'll go with pleasing. In no way is mies an eyesore. You just have to get his work, ther sharp angles and minimalist designs.
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  #7  
Old Posted Dec 5, 2006, 3:30 PM
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Thanks Spyguy for posting the great pics!
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  #8  
Old Posted Dec 5, 2006, 4:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by carfreak01
Modernism works best when it's contrasted with other architecture. Mies got that right with his locations and the fact that he did it first. When cities became inundated with only modern architecture, and pale imitations at that, they became eyesores.
Bingo!......neither perfection nor an eyesore but a wonderful contribution to the whole.
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  #9  
Old Posted Dec 6, 2006, 4:20 AM
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I suppose it depends on which side of my brain is throbbing at the time. I'm pretty much on the fence with his works - and the whole style for that matter. On one side I absolutely love the clean, orderly, and logical lines. I can certainly see how some people on this board (like SteelyDan in particular, as he's very outspoken about it) can find perfection and total beauty in these buildings. And other times I see these as ugly monstrosities, and uninspiring boxes. For examples, I love the Seagram Building, but absolutely loath the IIT buildings. More than anything else, I think my reaction to this style very much depends on how it is taken care of.

For this whole style I prefer that strip of Park Ave. in New York over anywhere else.
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  #10  
Old Posted Dec 6, 2006, 5:17 AM
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anyone who would suggest that mies' masterworks are eyesores does not deserve to be dignified with a proper response.
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  #11  
Old Posted Dec 6, 2006, 9:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Steely Dan
anyone who would suggest that mies' masterworks are eyesores does not deserve to be dignified with a proper response.
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  #12  
Old Posted Dec 6, 2006, 11:04 PM
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whta's interesting about the 860-880 buildings is since most of the high-rises along Lake Shore Dr. which are also newer buildings, probably built later are mostly brick or concrete structures. I wonder why? I know of 1 other steel apartment on the north side which I think is near Foster Ave.
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  #13  
Old Posted Dec 6, 2006, 11:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikeelm
whta's interesting about the 860-880 buildings is since most of the high-rises along Lake Shore Dr. which are also newer buildings, probably built later are mostly brick or concrete structures. I wonder why? I know of 1 other steel apartment on the north side which I think is near Foster Ave.
There are steel skeleton buildings next to 860-880 LSD, see spy guys pic.
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  #14  
Old Posted Dec 8, 2006, 12:58 AM
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Most of his works look okay to me.
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  #15  
Old Posted Dec 8, 2006, 3:34 AM
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Mies' works (and the works of his followers) only become eyesores if they're not kept up. Then they start to look cheap and budget-oriented. Otherwise, the works are flawless.
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  #16  
Old Posted Dec 8, 2006, 4:06 AM
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Originally Posted by spyguy View Post
I mean look at that! It's amazing!
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  #17  
Old Posted Dec 8, 2006, 4:58 AM
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The genius of Mies lies in the power of his imagination. He was able to look beyond the pomp and circumstance of a building’s veneer and imagine what its inner-most soul looks like. And we see his interpretation of that soul whenever we look at the IBM Building, Seagram, 660-680 N LSD, and the like—a building absolutely stripped down to express nothing more than its structural shape, reduced to an abstraction. Simple, repetitive lines. Austere purity. And black. Black: the absence of color. What a beautiful vision of the essence of a building. It’s as if he was striving to allow a building to exist in a state as close as possible to non-existence.
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  #18  
Old Posted Dec 8, 2006, 6:18 PM
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^^^ Well said!
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  #19  
Old Posted Dec 8, 2006, 8:35 PM
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Architecture not as art but as pure form.
I reject the claim that modernism was about form after function for two reasons:
1. Modernist buildings only function well given a certain set of imperfect and temporary circumstances.
2. Sculpture was and is very much a part of the program. Modernism was a new paradigm of architectural artistry to be sure, but not at all a rejection of it.

Quote:
Modernism works best when it's contrasted with other architecture. Mies got that right with his locations and the fact that he did it first. When cities became inundated with only modern architecture, and pale imitations at that, they became eyesores.
Bingo.

The whole point of the modernist paradigm (in all its incarnations, including the current versions such as deconstructivism) is to parody whatever is "normal". Modernist buildings work only so long as they remain individually shocking.

I can appreciate how a sharp Meis box would have looked when new, surrounded by heavy, ornate stone buildings. No doubt a striking piece of sculpture. But in walking around the Chicago of today, I am overwhelmed by the inhumanity of modernism. Every successive copycat made and continues to make Meis' work less and less interesting. Every time another building like his is built, all buildings like his become worse.

It’s certainly not a perfect system, but neither is it his fault that the buildings become eyesores over time. It’s the fault of an architectural establishment that lacks Meis’ genius.
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  #20  
Old Posted Dec 8, 2006, 10:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cirrus View Post
It’s the fault of an architectural establishment that lacks Meis’ genius.
And a failure of architects to bring forth their own visions and in not allowing their designs to be deluded into something that resembles a popular trend.
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