Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (March 27, 1886 – August 17, 1969) was a German-American architect. Along with Walter Gropius, Le Corbusier and Oscar Niemeyer, he is widely regarded as one of the pioneering masters of modern architecture.

Mies, like many of his post-World War I contemporaries, sought to establish a new architectural style that could represent modern times just as Classical and Gothic did for their own eras. He created an influential twentieth century architectural style, stated with extreme clarity and simplicity. His mature buildings made use of modern materials such as industrial steel and plate glass to define interior spaces. He strived towards an architecture with a minimal framework of structural order balanced against the implied freedom of free-flowing open space. 

He called his buildings "skin and bones" architecture. He sought a rational approach that would guide the creative process of architectural design. He is often associated with the aphorisms "less is more" and "God is in the details".

Mies's one-office office building
The champion of steel favors concrete and glass for Cuba's Bacardi building.
Architectural Forum / the magazine of building / February 1959

Mies van der Rohe has designed a Cuban rum company's headquarters in starkly simple reinforced concrete and glass.

Ludwig Mies vander Rohe's vast and beautiful room will differ significantly from his recent designs in two respects. In the first place, the modern master of steel here turns to a compressive material, concrete. The other innovation is that the Bacardi building which he has designed for construction in Santiago, Cuba, unlike other recent Mies buildings, has deep overhangs shading its completely glass walls.
Both departures from the Mies method ("I do not want to build something interesting; I want to builds omething good") are based on practical building considerations. In Cuba rolled steel sections are scarce, and in Cuba the sun is very hot. Reinforced concrete is practical; shading is essential.
The president of Compañia Ron Bacardi, S.A., Jose M. Bosch, has long believed that the ideal office would be one where there are no partitions, where everybody, both officers and employees, see each other. "When Bosch happened to visit Crown Hall, the Architecture Department building deigned by Mies on the campus of Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, he recognized an architect after his own mind, and commissioned the structure shown here. Like Crown Hall it will have one large glazed room, with subsidiary spaces downstairs. "Now that we have democracy and justice in Cuba, we can have this building built," said Bosch last month.
The shift in structural method from steel to reinforced concrete will give the Bacardi building an entirely different scale and character from the sinewy lightness of most Mies buildings. On eight massive, tapered cast concrete pillars will rest an enormous monolith of post tensioned reinforced concrete, a true plate, its girder edge floating heavily on pin joints which accept no horizontal thrust. To supply lateral stability the columns actually are designed like husky cantilevers from their buried bases. The interior beams which constitute the roof plate become thicker near the center of the 177  foot span, and supportahung ceiling of aluminum grillage which ceases a few feet short of the outside glass wal!; (above this ceiling five separate air conditioning units will be set into the roof slab). Although this is not the first time circumstances have led Mies to work with concrete,this powerful design should be his most  emphatic expression of the material.(See also the perspective drawing which appears on the cover.)


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