It’s been a long week of Mies, Mies, and yet more Mies.  So here’s a bit of a respite from the daunting Modernism his work exemplifies: Karl Friedrich Schinkel.  And yet, there’s something afoot – a link between Mies and Schinkel, which I am definitely not the first to make (see Kenneth Frampton and Thomas Beeby).  But whatever the reason, take a little solace in the capitals, pilasters, and peristyles – if only for the now.

mies at iit


In contrast to yesterday’s post, I’m featuring Mies’ earliest work in the United States (and his first experimentation with the ‘revealed’ corner, where the exterior envelope is set off of the structural grid), classrooms at IIT, for which Mies also completed the masterplan.  Here, the frame is still made up of wide flange steel sections, but with buff brick infill panels.  The window systems are still solid steel bars welded together – the thermal break found in the aluminum and bronze curtainwall systems was still a long way off.


modules, mullions, and mies


Today, I’m featuring the pinnacle of Mies’ urban tower typologies: the Seagram Building of 1958.  The wide flange steel mullions on the Lake Shore Drive apartments are rendered in custom bronze extrusions, with thermal breaks at the windows, but all appearing as though they were constructed of arc-welded steel sections (as at the Farnsworth House).  The glass curtainwall is brought proud of the structural column line, allowing the windows to be consistently sized throughout.  A contemporaneous example in Toronto follows:




While working in Chicago, I became painfully aware of how little I actually understood the mature work of Mies van der Rohe, especially with regard to his command of modules, structural regularity, and the finesse of his details.  So I drew.  I drew every one of his corners I could get my hands on – from the early simplicity of the Lake Shore Drive Apartments to the apex of complexity at the Seagram Building only some 10 years later.  Over the next few days I’ll be overwhelming you with these drawings.  Enjoy.


impluvium house


I’ve been fascinated with the impluvium for some time now – a large roughly cubic room with an inverted roof that is open to the sky at the center, an essential feature of the Roman domus house typology.  This project places a large impluvium at its center, with modern courtyards and bedrooms flaking it, and more traditionally-scaled living spaces at the entry.  Formal echoes of Irving Gill, H. H. Richardson, Richard Neutra, and Michael Graves abound.



palladio, meet hejduk

VILLA_03Two outer walls are traditionally detailed, while the porticos between them take on an abstract formalist language.  The cubic volume of the villa proper is more Mies-ian, and  is topped with large shingled hip roof (with the dormer I featured yesterday), while a round stair tower sits on the other side of the far wall (alla John Hejduk’s ‘Wall House’ series).


a dormer


Between reading a biography on H. H. Richardson and glancing through one of Michael Graves’ volumes, I thought up this little dormer – taken from the cantilevered round dormers found throughout Richardson’s work (and the Shingle Style at large), and met it with a perfect circular window (divided into nine lites, of course) such as Graves was wont to use, and made into a lantern of sorts, having windows on two sides.  My documentation of Graves’ examples follows.WINDOW_02