Aug, 18, 2011,
2:25 PM

The Best Laid Plans of Mies and Men

Mies’ master plan of IIT’s Main Campus may have been a planning tool, but in many ways it’s more a work of art; the original is even held by the Museum of Modern Art in New York. It represents a perfect order, something to aspire to, even if it’s impossible to attain in a world of budget restraints and regime switches. Obviously, Mies couldn’t carry out his plan completely, and had to hand the project over to Skidmore, Owings & Merrill when he left IIT in 1958.

We’ve be asking ourselves: how much has changed between the planning stages and the final layout? We decided to sketch it out. Unlike Mies’ plan, these crayon drawings aren’t beautiful and perfectly proportioned, but they demonstrate a drastic difference.

Master Plan (1941): 

How it looks today (2011):

To get an even better sense of Mies’ main campus, take one of the Mies Society’s daily tours!

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Aug, 16, 2011,
10:25 AM

Behind the 860-880 Lake Shore Drive Apartments Tour

Imagine four similar interior spaces treated in four unique ways.

In an exclusive tour of 860-880 North Lake Shore Drive Apartments on September 20, 2011, the Mies Society will offer a sneak peek at contemporary design within a Mies context. Architect Robert Kleinschmidt has organized a tour of four homes within the building, each of which were renovated in the past two years and never before open to the public.

"Each one has been designed by a talented architect," Kleinschmidt says. "All of their design solutions are in the modern idiom. Each take the Miesian philosophy and interpret it in a different way."

The four homes feature the latest technologies and newest materials. Tickets for this events are $250 for members and $300 for nonmembers. Proceeds go toward the restoration of Carr Memorial Chapel, Mies’s only religious building, at Illinois Institute of Technology. The current phase of the Chapel’s restoration will be completed September 1, 2011 with Mies Society members’ funding. A final phase is yet to be completed.

Reservations are required by Monday, September 12, 2011. R.S.V.P. with credit card payment to 312.567.5042 or at www.miessociety.org/happenings. Meet in the 880 lobby.

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Aug, 11, 2011,
10:21 AM

A Wartime Effort

The Minerals and Metals building, known around campus as M&M, was both Mies’ first design constructed at IIT and his first in the United States. It was built in 1943, a bad time to make anything other than a tank or battleship, as most construction materials were redirected to the war effort. The situation was so dire the government was even collecting scrap metal (to this end, IIT donated the steel fence around its athletic field). In fact, M&M was originally used to inspect said scrap metal, and many of the workers were graduates of IIT’s wartime tuition-free program to train women as inspectors.

As for the building itself, many people assumed its wall of windows was in homage to the Dutch artist Piet Mondrian.

Mies soon set them straight: he was using window bays to illustrate the internal divisions within the building. Nobody had seen anything like it—a building expressing its own structure—but Mies soon perfected and popularized the form. See many such buildings on IIT’s Mies-designed Main Campus on one of our daily tours

The inside of M&M (photo courtesy of Garrett Rock)

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Aug, 9, 2011,
2:09 PM

A Restoration Solution

Mies’ last Chicago residential building is getting all 20 of its columns restored. The 2400 North Lakeview building was completed in 1963.

The column’s bases were corroded over time, and patches only worked so well. But the building’s dwellers came up with an answer; the new aluminum cladding on the columns accompanies an easy-to-access apron at each base that may be removed to clear debris and prevent deterioration.

Check out resident Patricia Joseph’s blog for photos and details, and let us know your tips for restoring modern buildings.

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