Having another occasion to be downtown and to kill some time with friends, I put together a mini Mies van der Rohe tour of only two stops: 860-880 North Lakeshore Drive and the Illinois Institute of Technology campus. The weather forecast was for low 80's with reduced humidity, so I put the top down on the Mustang. It turned out to be 89 with high humidity. We broiled, or broasted, or whatever you do in that weather, sitting in traffic on leather seats. New Rule: never when the forecast is above the low 80's and/or the humidity is above 50%.
Modernism, especially in its most minimalist interpretations, is apparently a "love it or hate it" thing. I love it. Here's a link to the Wikipedia discussion of 860-880 North Lakeshore:
When Mies left Nazi Germany, he needed a job. He was able to generate several offers in the U.K. and the States, although the top architecture and civil engineering departments were not beating down his door. The Ivy League schools said "...meh..." and Purdue failed to make him an offer too. He ultimately chose the Illinois Institute of Technology (formerly the Armour Institute, a trade school) because he was not only hired to chair the architecture department but also invited to design an entirely new campus covering about 3 city blocks. It went up in the early 1950's. The iconic building of that project is Crown Hall. (The best biography of Mies, in my opinion, is Mies van der Rohe by Franz Schulze, University of Chicago Press, 1985, ISBN 0-226-74060-9. He didn't have to leave Germany because he was Jewish, or persecuted. The Nazis simply saw to it that his commissions dried up. To understand their beef with Mies, consider those faux Romanesque concrete clunkers designed by Albert Speer, Hitler's favorite architect.)
In the early 2000's, I.I.T.'s building program crept east, across State Street (formerly parking lots). Rem Koolhaus, a Dutch Modernist, won the competition for a new Student Center (formally called the McCormick Tribune Campus Center), which partially encloses an El station. Since then a dormitory south of this building has gone up, designed by Helmut Jahn, a famous post-Modernist practicing in Chicago. (I didn't take pictures of it...because I didn't like it...)
|Student Center, interior, looking toward the Welcome Center and State Street doors. The orange is pretty intense when|
you're in the corner. That aside, most features of the building follow Mies's dictum: "Less is more."