Let’s celebrate the birthday of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe who was born on March 27, 1886, coined the famed slogan ‘less is more,’ and forged the most spectacular and radical career spanning the formative years of modern architecture. Born in the ancient German town of Aachen, Mies started his career at the Berlin office of superstar architect Peter Behrens. In 1921 he devised the prototype of the glass skyscraper for a competition in Berlin (below), creating the touchstone of the modernist skyscraper, and eight later, he was responsible for the prototype of the luxurious modernist villa, which he had first realized in the German Pavilion at the Barcelona Exposition and shortly afterwards in Villa Tugendhat in Brno. Finding tremendous obstacles to practice his radical architecture in Nazi Germany, he settled in Chicago in the late 30s, heading the school of architecture at what is now the Illinois Institute of Technology, and developed its campus plan. It was a solo show at MoMA curated by his friend Philip Johnson in 1947 that came to bring Mies back into the spotlight. In the postwar years he built not only the famed Lake Shore Drive Apartments in Chicago, but also the Seagram Building in NYC and the Neue National Gallery in Berlin. Died of esophageal cancer in 1969, he was fortunate not to witness the rise of postmodernism of which numerous founders blamed him and his architecture for the failure of the Modern Movement to fulfill the task of changing the world through architecture.
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