ARCH 222 Presentation Paper of Mies van der Rohe “Skyscapers”

ARCH 222- Van der Rohe “Skyscaper” presentation

Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe From “Skyscapers” (1922)

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe is one of the famous architects that show himself in the beginnings of 20th century. He is considered as one of the pioneers of modern architecture. German architect started to his career in Berlin by working with Bruno Paul. Bruno Paul was an architect, illustrator and furniture designer. In beginnings of 1900 was a period that industrial capitalism grows up, cultural and traditional ideas was starting to leave their places to modernization. Urbanism, art, architecture had been affecting all the changing of technology, materials, new ideas, and developments. Pual was himself active in that reform actions not only the way of design but also in education. Thus, as a designer partner and educator of Mies, he has a role in Mies become a one of the pioneers of modernism and also by working Paul, Mies has lots of experience in design not only exteriorly but also interiorly. These gained experiences showed itself in his later carriers in as part of his design such as the furniture of Barceleoı Pavillion-the Barcelona Chair. He designed his first project “The Riehl House” the time that he working with Paul. Between 1908-1912 Mies joined Peter Behrens’s office. Peter Behrens is known with his AEG building design. AEG Tribe Factory building is one of a well-known example of industrial design in architectural history. After a time later, Mies van der Rohe said: “In one sentence, I could perhaps state that ı have learned the great form” abut the time working with Behrens.

Mies joined the army before WW1 and served until 1919. After the war, he turned back to architectural practice. Starting whit 19’s and continued to post-war time, there were lots of movement in Europe. Changing social and political powers has affected the traditions and daily life. People were started to express his ideas with groups, movements by using different ways such as art, writing, architecture and etc. Germany had effected that movements and some movement also rise up in Germany. Cubism and expressionism were examples of the movements that show itself in Germany and in the following year by following these ideas of modernism, much more movements occurred in Germany.

Cubism was a modernist movement that created by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque. This movement basically, against individualism with the other words figurative art. Their method was analysing things and then showing things by abstraction.

Expressionism was also a modernist movement that merged in poetry and painting. Expressionism affected Germany at the end of 19’s. In Expressionism, there is a realism in emotions and inner aspect of the artist. According to this movement, art works became a representation of artist’s emotion as a part of his character.

Although, this two movement are represented two -quite-opposite ideas, both of them share the same aim which is a reflection of realism.

During 1920, modernist movements started to become widespread, by influencing movements such as cubism, suprematism, marxism, expressionism and etc., some groups showed itself during 1920 in Germany.

Architects and artists came together for some of these groups. They work together for new developments and new cultural organizations. Mies also one of these architects who join these groups. These names were Novembergruppe and Arbeitstrat Für Kunst.

Novembergruppe was occurred by a group of German expressionist that share the thought that art and people must be unity. There should be no pleasure or joy in art. It must show reality. In addition, architecture has to be functional and pure.The other aim of Novembergruppe was creating a connection between workers and art, architecture, crafts, artist.

Arbeitsrat Für Kunst is also an art movement that created by architects and artist.This group also serves as a worker’s and soldier’s council. In addition, this group takes the responsibility of bringing new development to art and architecture. Arbeitsrat Für Kunst was working very closely with the other groups such as November group, Bauhaus, Deutscher Werkbund, Glass Chain. Therefore, all these groups were effected one and other.

In an early time in his practice in architecture, Mies also influenced by Dada. Dada was an artistic movement that occurs Zürich. Dada ideas were expressing by a magazine. Dada magazine was spreading anti-war and anti- art massages. This magazine has powerful politic and social side, they stated lots of anti- war messages. The other thing that expresses by the magazine is anti- art massages. The idea of anti-art is questioning art and rejecting prior, stereotype definitions or perceptions. The aim of defending an anti-war idea is having reform in art. Dada ideas were express by journal and collage. Their work was a collection of cubism and abstraction with their thoughts.

In 1921, Mies entry for Friedrichtrass Skyscraper competition. It was his first major post-war design. Also, it was his first opportunity to take a responsibility or place in a chancing time. Before joining the army and had a break in his architecture practice, he designed lots of suburban houses, but it was the first time that he can have a chance to discover his potential in modern and metropolitan architecture.

The competition was for high-rise office building on Berlin’s major commercial street. Mies’ entry was the outstanding one. Mies’s design based on high reaching steel skeletons and glass. He thought that “with the raising walls this impressionism is completely destroyed”. Therefore, he designed a building like the open air. The design idea of an office building basically works like” skin and bone”. By producing glass facade and flexible use spaces he actually ignored all guidelines of competition. This design of Mies could not win any prize or ever built but it has a huge influenced on his later career. First prize of Fridrichtrasse competition given to Alfons Baecker, Julus Brahm, and Rudolf Kastelleiner.

By making entry to this competition, he started to focus on glass and steel material. He developed his designed by following years, he discovered limitations of materials and reaching the right solution about form and materials for high raised building. By doing experiments on a glass model he not only reach a solution for high raised building but also reaching a solution for the interplay of light reflection.

His project of Glass skyscraper has hypothetical design by the following year this design turn into a series of curvilinear forms. It was thought that he inspired by Bruno Taut sketches.

Bruno Taut also worked on materiel of glass and he designed of The Glass Pavilion in 1914. To illustrate, the Crystal character of Mies’ glass skyscraper designed first published in Bruno Taut journal “Frühlicht”. Starting by the time that was published, people consider the design as utopian. His idea of using glass and creating a new form from it was too utopian for the only post-war time in Europe. No matter people described Mies’s work as expressionist and consistently critical of individualism, he continued to work on glass skyscrapers. He made lots of experiments in new materials and elemental form creation. This determination created a new opening in his later career in the USA in modern architecture.

In 1930, Mies became a director of Bauhaus. Until the time Nazi forces shut down Bauhaus in 1932, Mies tried to avoid from political issues and more focus on form and function problems. Related to the political issue had an infect on Bauhaus that existed in Germany, in 1938, he moved to the USA permanently.

After he moved in America he designed lots of structure which used glass on it. He also designed lots of skyscrapers that still exist in today. His aim of continuity of spaces is preserved itself in his all designs. One of the famous skyscrapers that he made is “Seagram building” which is still existing New York. In the design of Seagram building, we can still see the effects of his work that gained in his very first skyscraper design, Glass skyscraper.

“Mies, however, the first architect to envision this traceless word as fully technologized with an architecture of glass and steel, at once dark and light. He would continue, throughout the rest of his career, to create equally empty, challenging and inspiring spaces for new beginnings.”

Reference List

  • Schulze, F., & Windhorst, E. (2012). Mies van der Rohe: A critical biography.
    Mertins, D. (2014). Mies. London: Phaidon.
  • Mallgrave, H. F., & Contandriopoulos, C. (2008). Architectural theory. Vol. 2. Malden, MA: Blackwell
  • Material Masters: Glass is More with Mies van der Rohe. (2014). Retrieved March 06, 2016, from
  • Journal of Architecture, Planning and Environmental Engineering”, Architectural Institute of Japan, NO.493, pp.223-229, Mar.1997
  • Honour, H., & Fleming, J. (2009). A world history of art / A History. London: Laurence King Pub.
  • Retrieved from:
  • Hays, K. M. (1992). Modernism and the posthumanist subject: The architecture of Hannes Meyer and Ludwig Hilberseimer. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

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