Geoff Goldberg, AIA, shares his thoughts on Mies in celebration of two current exhibitions about Bertrand Goldberg, Geoff’s father. He designed Marina City, a.k.a. the corncobs, and made a definitive mark on mid-century design.
Bertrand Goldberg: Architecture of Invention is at the Art Institute of Chicago through January 15, 2012. The other show, Bertrand Goldberg: Reflections, is free to the public at The Arts Club of Chicago through January 13, 2012. It was designed by Geoff and fellow architect John Vinci, FAIA, and features Bertrand’s personal collection of art as well as his designs of furniture, jewelry and buildings.
Here’s Geoff’s answers to our standard survey:
1. Describe Mies in a nutshell (remember, less is more).
Mies as the Buddha of architecture. Often mute, puzzling, quizzical, serious and caring.
2. Does Mies help you or haunt you?
Mies both helps and haunts. One is left with the feeling of never having done enough, good enough, studied enough. That said, he still propels me to deep and serious approach to the work, things that should never fade away. So haunt or help? Both, together.
3. Why do Mies’ simplicity and clarity generate such controversey?
The simplicity is a myth. There is nothing simple about Mies or his work. It is minimal, it can be seen as austere, but it is more appropriately read as subtle an nuanced. It does not promote itself in the commercial marketplace, and bluntly speaking, he probably never really was truly interested in that realm, all protests to the contrary.
4. If Mies could come to dinner at your house, what would you serve? And what would you want to discuss?
First thought is a nice dinner, not too fancy, but a well-set table, and a nice wine. But one can also imagine a picnic on a wood table with a dark German beer. We’d talk about nature in Germany, the Black Forest and the landscape, and how the differences with America impacted his thinking. All the while, I’d be thinking of Lily Reich, and wondering what she would have added to the conversation and to Mies’ thinking.
P.S. Geoff recommends this site for a comprehensive history of his father’s life.
Photo by hao$ via Flickr
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