If you find bricks tediously repetitious, you probably shouldn’t study architecture at IIT. Here, students spend a whole semester studying and drawing brickwork, as prescribed by the curriculum Mies developed when he was head of the department from 1938 to 1958.
Mies didn’t see anything wrong with repetition. On IIT’s campus, he worked almost exclusively with the English cross bond arrangement, which consists of alternating rows of stretchers (full bricks) and headers (half bricks).
While here, he also perfected the famous Mies corner, made possible through a quoin, which is to say by ending each row of headers with a three-quarter length brick. The effect where the walls join is something like an unzippered zipper, revealing the Mies corner—two I-beams joined by two flat panels of steel—in between. This use of steel gestures at the internal structure of the building without actually revealing it.
You can see Mies’ beautiful brickwork, over and over again, on one of our daily tours of IIT’s Main Campus.
As a bonus, we couldn’t not link you to this.
Photos courtesy of bw3030 and faasdant, respectively.
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