Side by Side. Farnsworth house vs. Glass house by Robin Hill

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Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe was born in Aquisgran the 27th of Marz of 1886 and died in Chicago the 17th of August of 1969. He was active in Germany, from 1908 to 1938, when he moved to USA and where he was until his death. He was also considerate a “master” of the Modern Movement, since the 50s, and he was one of the fathers of this movement with Walter Gropius, Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright.

Mies van der Rohe, who in his childhood was guided by masters as Hendrik Petrus Berlage or Peter Behrens, he always kept tabs of the Villlet-Le-Duc’s rationalism or Karl Friedrich Schinkel eclectic classicism, having a strong connection with the architectural historicism. As he said in his manifesto “Baukunst und Zeiwille” about this: “it is not possible to move on looking back”.

In 1900 he began to work with his father in the stone workshop of the family and shortly afterward he move to Berlin to work with Bruno Paul in 1902, designing furniture. He planned his first house in 1907, the “Riehl House” in Neubabelsbers and worked from 1908 to 1911 in Peter Behrens’s studio. There he was influenced by structural technics and designs based on steel and glass, as the AEG project in Berlin. While he was in Behrens’s studio he designed the Perls House.

In 1912 he openned his own studio and projected a house in The Hague for Kröller-Müller marriage. The studio received few jobs in its first years, but Mies, contrary to architects as Le Corbusier, in his first years he already showed an architectural policy to follow, being an architect that changed little his architectural philosophy. To his epoch belonged the Heertrasse House and Urbig House as his principal projects.

In 1913 se move to the outskirts of Berlin with his wife Ada Bruhn with whom he would have three kids. The family broke up when Mies was posted to Romania during the World War I.

In 1920, Ludwig Mies changed his surname to Mies van der Rohe and in 1922 he joined as member to the “Novembergruppe”. One year later, in 1923, he published the magazine “G” with Doesburg Lisstzky and Rechter. During this period he worked in two houses, the Birck House and the Mosler House. In 1926, Mies van der Rohe held the post of chief commissioner of the German Werkbund exhibition, being his president this year. In this period he projected the Wolf House in Guden and the Hermann Lange House in Krefeld and in 1927, he met the designer Lilly Reich, in the house exhibition of Weissenhof, where he was director, and he planned a steel structure block for her.

In 1929, he received the project the German National Pavilion to the International Exhibition of Barcelona) rebuilt in 1986=, where he included the design of the famous Barcelona Chair.

In 1930, he planned in Brün – present Czech Republic -, the Tugendhat Villa. He managed the Dessau’s Bauhaus until his closure in 1933. The Nazism forced Mies to emigrate to the United States in 1937. He was designated chair of the Architecture department in Armour Institute in 1938, the one that later merged with the Lewis Institute, forming the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) and where he took the responsibility to build a considerable extent of the foundations of the Intitute from 1939 and 1958. One of the buildings of this complex is the Crown Hall, IIT (1950-1956).

In 1940, he met the person who would be his partner until his death, Lora Marx. He became citizen of the USA in 1944 and, one year later, he began with the Farnsworth House’s project (1945-1950). During this stage, in 1948, he designed his first skyscraper: the two towers of the Lake Drive Apartments in Chicago, which were finished in 1951. Shortly after, he planned other building of this typology, the Commonwealth Promenade Apartments, from 1953 to 1956.

In 1958 he projected his most important work: the Segram Building in New York. This building has 37 storeys, covered with glass and bronze, which built and planned with Philip Johnson. He retired from the Illinois Institute of Technology the same year. He also built more towers and complexes as: the Toronto Dominion Centre (1963-1969) and the Westmount Square (1965-1968) and designed the New Square and Office Tower of The City of London (1967).

From 1962 to 1968, he built the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin, which would be his last legacy to the architecture. The building that rose as exhibition hall is made of steel, glass and granite.

He died in Chicago the 17th of August if 1969 leaving behind a large legacy and influence to next generations.

The Mies van der Rohe’s most famous sentences are “Less is more” and “God is in the details”.
 

Philip JOHNSON

Philip Johnson was born in Cleveland, Ohio. He was descended from the Jansen family of New Amsterdam, and included among his ancestors the Huguenot Jacques Cortelyou, who laid out the first town plan of New Amsterdam for Peter Stuyvesant. He attended the Hackley School, in Tarrytown, New York, and then studied at Harvard University as an undergraduate, where he focused on history and philosophy, particularly the work of the Pre-Socratic philosophers. Johnson interrupted his education with several extended trips to Europe. These trips became the pivotal moment of his education; he visited Chartres, the Parthenon, and many other ancient monuments, becoming increasingly fascinated with architecture.

In 1928 Johnson met with architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, who was at the time designing the German Pavilion for the 1929 Barcelona International Exposition. The meeting was a revelation for Johnson and formed the basis for a lifelong relationship of both collaboration and competition.

Johnson returned from Germany as a proselytizer for the new architecture. Touring Europe more comprehensively with his friends Alfred H. Barr, Jr. and Henry-Russell Hitchcock to examine firsthand recent trends in architecture, the three assembled their discoveries as the landmark show "Modern Architecure: International Exhibition" in the Heckscher Building for the Museum of Modern Art, in 1932. The show and their simultaneously published book "International Style: Modern Architecture Since 1922" was profoundly influential and is seen as the introduction of modern architecture to the American public. It celebrated such pivotal architects as Le Corbusier, Walter Gropius, and Mies van der Rohe. The exhibition was also notable for a controversy: architect Frank Lloyd Wright withdrew his entries in pique that he was not more prominently featured.

As critic Peter Blake has stated, the importance of this show in shaping American architecture in the century "cannot be overstated."[citation needed] In the book accompanying the show, coauthored with Hitchcock, Johnson argued that the new modern style maintained three formal principles: 1. an emphasis on architectural volume over mass (planes rather than solidity) 2. a rejection of symmetry and 3. rejection of applied decoration.[citation needed] The definition of the movement as a "style" with distinct formal characteristics has been seen by some critics as downplaying the social and political bent that many of the European practitioners shared.

Johnson continued to work as a proponent of modern architecture, using the Museum of Modern Art as a bully pulpit. He arranged for Le Corbusier's first visit to the United States in 1935, then worked to bring Mies and Marcel Breuer to the US as emigres.

From 1932 to 1940, Johnson openly sympathized with Fascism and Nazism. He expressed antisemitic ideas and was involved in several right-wing and fascist political movements. Hoping for a fascist candidate for President, Johnson reached out to Huey Long and Father Coughlin. Following trips to Nazi Germany where he witnessed the attack on Poland and contacts with German intelligence, the Office of Naval Intelligence marked him as suspected of being a spy but he was never charged. Regarding this period in his life, he later said, "I have no excuse (for) such unbelievable stupidity... I don't know how you expiate guilt." In 1956, Johnson attempted to do just that and donated his design for a building of worship to what is now one of the country's oldest Jewish congregations, Congregation Kneses Tifereth Israel in Port Chester, New York. According to one source "all critics agree that his design of the Port Chester Synagogue can be considered as his attempt to ask for forgiveness"  for his admitted "stupidity" in being a Nazi sympathizer. The building, which stands today, is a "crisp juxtaposition of geometric forms".

During the Great Depression, Johnson resigned his post at MoMA to try his hand at journalism and agrarian populist politics. His enthusiasm centered on the critique of the liberal welfare state, whose "failure" seemed to be much in evidence during the 1930s. As a correspondent, Johnson observed the Nuremberg Rallies in Germany and covered the invasion of Poland in 1939. The invasion proved the breaking point in Johnson's interest in journalism or politics and he returned to enlist in the US Army. After a couple of self-admittedly undistinguished years in uniform, Johnson returned to the Harvard Graduate School of Design to finally pursue his ultimate career of architect.

Among his works is The Glass House, where he lived until his death, the headquarters of AT & T, the National Centre for Performing Arts of India, the Crystal Cathedral in California, the Four Seasons Restaurant in the Seagram Building, the Lincoln Center in NY or Puerta de Europa towers in Madrid.

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