Mies van der Rohe (1886 – 1969)

Architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (known as Mies) was born in Aachen, Germany, in 1886. Mies spent the first half of his career in Berlin where he achieved recognition for his visionary designs of glass skyscrapers in the 1920s. Influenced by the abstract geometry and economy of form of such European modernist art movements as Constructivism and De Stijl, and the open floor plans of American architect Frank Lloyd Wright, Mies produced two European masterpieces — the German Pavilion at the International Exposition in Barcelona (1929) and the Villa Tugendhat in Brno, Czech Republic (1930).

In the 1930s, Mies served as the last director of the Bauhaus school prior to its closing by the Nazi regime. Along with many artists, Mies fled Germany and settled in Chicago in 1938 to accept the position of Director of the School of Architecture, now the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT). Mies’ influential American career focused on refining his bold glass and steel structures that altered the course of architecture in the United States. During his tenure, Mies developed the master plan for IIT, including twenty of his buildings and the landmark S.R. Crown Hall (1956). Other historic structures include the Farnsworth House in Plano, IL (1951)the 860–880 Lake Shore Drive apartments in Chicago (1951) , and the SeagramBuilding in New York (1958). Mies became an American citizen in 1944, received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1963 and died in Chicago in 1969.

For information about Mies-related items in EAM’s Collection, please click here.