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.
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.
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.