Dec, 19, 2011,
11:29 AM

Tugendhat House: Sneak Preview

Playwright June Finfer just sent us this documentary of hers. It makes a revealing case for restoring the Tugendhat House with commentary from family members and Mies’ grandson, Dirk Lohan.

Here are some of the film’s best quotes about the home:

"Space was defined but not blocked out," George Danforth, IIT alumnus (ARCH ‘40) and Mies’ colleague who died in 2007

"It’s one of the seminal projects of the 20th Century, particularly in Eastern Europe… It’s a museum worth preserving," Dirk Lohan, FAIA, Mies Society Board of Advisors and IIT Life Trustee

And, finally, our favorite quote, which epitomizes loyalty:

"I don’t like the idea of strange people tromping about in there. I still consider it part of my house too," Irene Kalkofen, the Tugendhat family’s governess and the last remaining person who lived in the house as an adult. She died in 2004.

The Brno, Czech Republic home will be a highlight of the Mies Society’s May 2012 European tour (book your spot now).

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Dec, 14, 2011,
3:30 PM

Gene Summers

Gene Summers, a Mies student and former dean of the College of Architecture, died Monday at age 83.

His design of the 1971 iteration of McCormick Place made Chicago a convention destination. This “staggering structural achievement,” as described by critic Blair Kamin, replaced a less elegant version that was destroyed by a fire in 1967. Summers landed this commission through his relationship with Mies; the two collaborated on the Seagram Building in New York City several years after Summers earned his master’s degree in architecture from Illinois Institute of Technology.

Read this article for more on Summers’ life and work.

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Dec, 13, 2011,
10:00 AM

A Carr Chapel update


Here Mies Society Director Justine Jentes answers the three most frequently asked questions about the restoration of Mies’ only realized spiritual space, Robert F. Carr Memorial Chapel of St. Savior.


What impact have recent renovations had on the interior space?

Thorough tuckpointing of the brick walls combined with earlier work on the roof should put a stop to leaks in the walls and discoloration of the interior brick walls. In addition, careful cleaning has revealed the beauty of the wood panels and benches on either side of the altar.


 What is the most dramatic change so far, and how was it achieved?

The most significant difference is the amount of natural light that now enters the space through the glass on the west side. We removed the organ and surrounding structure that was not original to the space and had blocked considerable light from shining onto the north and south walls. In addition, the newly cleaned concrete ceiling panels also help to lighten the space.


What are your thoughts on why people are compelled to fund the Chapel’s restoration? 

Donors are engaged by this project because they want to help provide a welcoming spiritual center for the IIT community and because they are intrigued by Mies’ only religious building. IIT and the Episcopal Diocese built this Chapel to unify the realms of science and spirit. Restoration of the Chapel is a commitment not only to preservation of an architectural gem, but to the nurturing of students, faculty and staff as whole persons. While the Chapel may have been built to flexibly welcome Protestants, Catholics and Jews, IIT’s community has grown to include a sizable Muslim and Hindu population, as well as Buddhist, pagan, secular humanist, Baha’I, Sikh, and others. The Chapel is active as a spiritual center every day of every week. The Chapel’s architecture must suggest spirituality to those of all faiths; while Carr Memorial Chapel does not have a traditional religious form, it uses simple structure, flexible interior, and the transparency of glass to welcome, inspire and integrate with the rest of the campus. Mies created the Chapel with the same simple materials he used in the rest of the IIT campus: brick, steel, glass, oak panels, travertine marble, and terrazzo floor. It is in keeping with the “skin and bones” style for which he is known, where Mies tries to pare down the structure to its most beautiful, bare essentials.

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Dec, 12, 2011,
2:31 PM

What’s Hair Got to do with it?

We’re abuzz with excitement for the shear fun of the upcoming Mies birthday party!

In the mid-twentieth century, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe changed architecture when he designed buildings for structure and simplicity. Little did he know his functional approach would inspire Vidal Sassoon’s iconic haircuts—proving more can be done with Mies’ approach to “less.”

Their innovative styles endure, and the world looks better for it.

Join us on March 27, 2012, in S. R. Crown Hall to celebrate Mies’ birthday and his influence on hair. 

Tickets are $50 each or $126 to include a Mies van der Rohe Society membership. Register now.

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