May, 11, 2012,
5:17 PM

Murphy-Jahn tour of Sony Center

We’re on the sixth day of our European architectural tour, and if there is a theme to any day, today’s is politics. Scroll down for some pictures from our special-access escapade. But first, check out our expertly guided tour of Sony Center Berlin.

Above: Before Murphy-Jahn’s Sony Center Berlin (second image below), the building’s site was lively. Then WWII came and decimated it, leaving one building and some trees (directly below).

Above: Glimpse of Sony Center Berlin

Above: Murphy Jahn’s design of Sony Center Berlin includes Mies’ staircase design.

Above: The security entrance to the Reichstag includes Jenny Holzer’s work, which displays 20 days of parliament speeches.

Above: Thanks to some string-pulling, we had special access today to visit the Bundestag although it was in session. We started in a private room to learn about German politics and walked through the building through a special tunnel (below) into Reichstag.

Above: Interior of tunnel leading to Reichstag

Above: The cupola on the Reichstag building

Eventually we made our way to the cupola by Sir Norman Foster and had a delicious lunch of buttered potatoes, white asparagus and wiener schnitzel.

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May, 10, 2012,
5:05 PM

In-Person at Neue Nationalgalerie

We’re on the fifth day of our European architectural tour, and the highlight was visiting Neue Nationalgalerie, featuring an exhibition of Gerhard Richter’s works. We also visited the Lemke House. Here’s a snapshot tour…

Above: Those charged with restoring Neue Nationalegalerie are trying to figure out a way to make the outdoor garden accessible and integrated, as Mies intended.

Above: The team is tackling issues beyond steel and glass; they are considering where to put the bookstore that has migrated (through the years) to a destination beneath the staircase.

Above: Here’s Mies at the groundbreaking of the museum.

Above: The restoration team is challenged when it comes to finding glass panes large enough that also meet new double-pane and ultraviolet light codes. Notice the current replacement is multiple sheets seamed together.

Above: Visitors gather outside Neue Nationalgalerie and learn details about the forthcoming restoration from Arne Maibohm, an architect and member of the planning team.

This is the view of the site Mies would have had from his apartment. He sited this according to the old existing church.

Note the six-foot trusses and one of only eight columns supporting the roof.

Above: A guest’s snazzy shirt matches our visits today to the Richter color studies and the Klee paintings at the Bauhaus Archives.

Above: The Lemke House has been converted to a contemporary art gallery. The director characterized this modest house as “small Mies” and his final house built in Europe.

The goal of the structure is to draw people to nature, moving through the minimal internal space to the extensive garden and lake. The house was eventually used as a cafeteria for staff serving the head of the Stasi who lived on weekends in a house next door.

In the 1970s a family lived here and added a window in the bedroom; you can see where the restoration team replaced the brick.

Above: We had a fabulous lunch of currywurst and fries, a Berlin specialty.

Above: Here is a piece from the show of Gerhard Richter’s work. It is four panes of glass in steel frames and is very Miesian. It is also interesting because Richter says he is showing both what is limitless and the limitations on what can be depicted.

That reminded us of what Mies tried to achieve in providing a spare structure to frame a space or make many things possible. The limits in both this work and that of Mies’ portray immediate boundaries and reveal ephemeral uses of space.

Above: Grids, grids, everywhere! Here is the outdoor plaza.

Above: And here is the interior floor.

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May, 9, 2012,
4:18 PM

Another Modern Visionary Dies

Today Vidal Sassoon, creator of modern hairstyles, died after a long battle with leukemia. He was 84 years old.

The Mies Society paid tribute to his inspired work this year in the celebration of Mies’ 126th birthday.

Sassoon had cited Mies’ work, among that of other architects’, as inspiration for his innovative hairstyles, which became popular throughout the Western World in the 1960s.

Justine Jentes, Director of the Mies Society, had worked with Sassoon’s assistant to arrange for him to make a surprise appearance at the birthday bash. Though he was ultimately not able to attend, his legacy proved to be a popular draw for party guests, who were intrigued by his ability to translate minimalist sculptural forms from buildings to hair.

Modern visionaries like Sassoon invented a lasting aesthetic that works across mediums. They made “mid-century” an identifiable and covetable quality. And they did it in the name of better design. Just as modern architects merged form and function, so did disciples of Sassoon’s styling approach.

He invented looks such as the five-point cut (pictured) so women did not have to fuss over their hair (think of those 1940s ‘dos). Instead, they could have styles that fit their bone structures and allowed their hair to fall naturally into place. Just how many hours (or even years) he spared for well-coiffed women in recent decades remains to be counted, adding another dimension to the timeless quality of his creations.

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May, 9, 2012,
11:58 AM

The Brno Exhibition Centre

The Mies Society continues its European architectural tour with a visually jam-packed day three; after Villa Tugendhat Tuesday, we visited the Brno Exhibition Centre, a popular destination for international conferences.

The original Centre was built in the 1920s and has since grown with the addition of modern structures.

Above: A reinforced concrete staircase part of a building called Pavilion of Industry and Trade

Above: Parabola-tastic

Above: Here’s a poster featuring the beautifully domed pavilion on the fairgrounds. It was done in 1955 as part of what’s called Brussels-style due to the fact that Brno won top awards for its modern architecture at the 1955 Brussels World’s Fair.

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