Mar, 26, 2012,
11:11 PM

Mies’ mentees

In honor of Mies’ 126th birthday week, we’re featuring some of his most culturally influential mentees. We’ll start with a pair of former Illinois Institute of Technology students who eventually became business partners: Phyllis Lambert and Gene Summers.

Summers and Lambert are responsible for revitalizing interest in downtown Los Angeles. They purchased and renovated the Beaux Arts-style Biltmore Hotel in the midcentury, saving it from certain ruin. Not only did they restore it, they added a modern flavor with a four-star restaurant that featured chairs designed by Mies.

Summers died this year, leaving a legacy of transformation for several U.S. cities, including Chicago. His design of the second-generation McCormick Place (the first burned down in the 1960’s) was a feat of daring construction with it’s 300,000 square-foot space shelters by a roof that had eight columns for support. It made Chicago a convention destination. He later became Dean of IIt’s College of Architecture and eventually pursued his passion for creating sculpture.

Phyllis Lambert, besides famously convincing her father to hire Mies to design the Seagrams building, has consulted for countless instiutions, including the International Confederation of Architectural Museums. She has also built the Canadian Centre for Architecture into an internationally significant cultural institution.

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Mar, 22, 2012,
11:17 AM

Win two tickets to the party!

Win two tickets to Mies’ 126th birthday bash from Chicago-based promoter Billy Dec. He names it a best event for the week! Or register for Tuesday’s party here.

And did we mention there will be complimentary valet parking offered on the north side of S. R. Crown Hall beginning at 5 p.m.? See you Tuesday!

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Mar, 15, 2012,
3:56 PM

Come to the party

This year’s bash for Mies’ birthday is full of surprises. Register now for the March 27 party in his landmark structure, S. R. Crown Hall.

This year we’re highlighting (pun intended) his influence on hair, specifically the iconic mid-century stylist Vidal Sassoon.

In interviews and his autobiography, Vidal Sassoon talks about how much he admired Bauhaus designs and Mies’ architecture. He cites these as inspiration for the strong lines, simple geometry and functionalism of his haircuts. He also talks about how his cuts are “modern;” he was dedicated to freeing women from having to go to a salon every week to have someone else do the hair and empowering women with simple but bold cuts they could manage themselves.
At the party, Vidal Sassoon stylists will be cutting models’ hair and talking about the relationship between the Sassoon “technique” and architecture.

Witness the transformations that can occur when Miesian principles are applied to hair. We promise a fashionable, fun, and surprising evening.

Complimentary valet parking available beginning at 5 p.m. on the north side of Crown Hall.

One of Vidal Sassoon’s cuts, Greek Goddess

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Mar, 6, 2012,
2:05 PM

MLK Library: Office Space?

Here’s an update on the potential fate of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library in downtown Washington D.C., the architect’s only library.

As with many of Mies’ buildings lately, it needs restoration. But the cost of upkeep has forced community members to look at multiple options, including re-using the space for non-library purposes. The Urban Land Institute gathered a panel, which met in fall of 2011, and their final report is now public.

In the report, they conclude the better-than-average economic conditions in D.C. make an expensive rehabilitation possible - with the end goal being “a library of the future.” However, none of their recommendations include retaining the library function for the entire building.

Who knows what the future holds? Especially if we can someday provide low-income and homeless people with infinite information on demand (via hologram, of course). But that’s just another Star Trek episode (or federal program) waiting to happen. Until then, the panel made these suggestions:

1.) Add more floors for more tenants to get more money

2.) Move library operations entirely and rethink the use of Mies’ structure

Either option is anticipated to cost less than the $200 million-plus expense to restore the library to its original state. And, as if giving a nod to Mies in heaven (or wherever he is), they conclude their report with flattery:

"Mies was a pioneering architect who envisioned buildings that were at once bold but flexible from a functional perspective."

As long as his fans approve…

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