Ludwig Mies van der Rohe Biography, Architecture, Structures, philosophy & Quotes

By | April 19, 2021

Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe Biography

Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe is a famous German Architect. Mies Van der Rohe was born Maria Ludwig Michael Mies on 27 March, 1886, in Aachen, kingdom of Prussia, German Empire to Michael Mies and Amalie Rohe. Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe is regarded as one of the most influential architects of the twentieth century. He is known for his role together with famous architects Alvar Aalto, Le Corbusier, Walter Gropius and Frank Lloyd Wright as the pioneers of modernist architecture and developing it as an architectural style.

Mies Van Der Rohe is also known for being the third and final Bauhaus Director before it was forced to close in 1933 when it was under pressure from the Nazi Government. He then moved to the United States in 1938 where He settled in Chicago, later becoming an American citizen in 1944. Ludwig Mies Van Der died on the 17th August 1969. Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe died at age 83. Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe’s death place was Chicago, US.

NameLudwig Mies Van Der Rohe
Date of birth27 March 1886
Birth placeAachen, Kingdom of Prussia, German Empire
Date of death17 August 1969
Death placeChicago, Illinois,U.S.
Age (at the time of death)83 years
CitizenshipGerman (1886-1944),American (1944-1969)
Zodiac signAries

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe Family –

FatherMichael Mies
MotherAmalie Rohe
Spouse(s)Adele Auguste (Ada) Bruhn (1913-1918) (Separated)
The Furniture of Lilly Reich and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe: The Early Years  - smow Blog

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe Early Life and Childhood –

Mies Van Der Rohe was born Maria Ludwig Michael Mies on 27 March, 1886, in Aachen, which was in the kingdom of Prussia in the German Empire. He was the youngest of 5 Children. His father was a stonemason who owned a stone carving shop. As a child, Mies Van Der Rohe would accompany his father to the building sites where he would work. He improved his skill by working with his father.

At 15, he apprenticed under several Aachen architects where he sketched outlines of architectural designs. This practice developed his skill for linear drawings, which he would use to produce some of the finest architectural designs. At 19, he joined as an apprentice to Bruno Paul, a leading furniture designer. His first project was a traditional suburban house. It’s perfect execution impressed Peter Behrens, then Germany’s most progressive architect. He offered the 21-year-old Mies a job in his office.

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe Education –

Mies attended a local Catholic School during his childhood. He then received vocational training at the Gewerbeschule in Aachen. In the meantime, he was also working for his father who was a stonemason which further honed his skills. He also worked through several apprenticeships.

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe Personal Life –

In 1913, Mies married Ada Bruhn who was the daughter of a wealthy industrialist. The couple eventually had three daughters and separated in 1918. During his military service in 1917, he fathered a son outside his marriage. In 1925, he began a relationship with designer Lilly Reich that ended when he moved to the United States.

From 1940 until his death, artist Lora Marx was his primary companion. He also carried on a romantic relationship with sculptor and art collector Marry Caller. He suffered from cancer of the esophagus. In 1969, he was diagnosed with pneumonia as well. He died on 17 August 1969, in Chicago.

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and the Farnsworth House

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe Later Years and Death –

One of Mies’s Final projects was the New National Gallery in Berlin, for which he had received a commission from the West German government. Completed in 1968, the structure is a testament to his Modernist aesthetic. The two-level  building features walls of glass supported by an imposing metal frame.

Mies Van Der Rohe died on 17 August 1969, from esophageal cancer caused by his smoking habit. After cremation, his ashes were buried near Chicago’s other famous architects in Chicago’s Graceland Cemetery. His grave is marked by a simple black slab of granite and a large honey locust tree. Many of his impressive structures still stand today, wowing visitors with their innovative design.

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe Trivia –

Mies added his mother’s surname, ‘Van der Rohe’, after establishing himself as an architect.

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe Top 10 Buildings –

  1. S.R. Crown Hall, Illinois Institute of Technology, Illinois, United States.
  2. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, Washington, United States.
  3. Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin, Germany.
  4. 860-880 Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, Illinois, United States.
  5. Seagram Building, New York City, New York.
  6. Farnsworth House, Illinois, United States.
  7. IBM Plaza, Chicago, Illinois, United States.
  8. Barcelona Pavilion, Barcelona, Spain.
  9. Villa Tugendhat, Brno, Czech Republic.
  10. Lafayette Towers Apartments, Detroit, United States.
IIT College of Architecture
Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library
Profile - Neue Nationalgalerie
860–880 North Lake Shore Drive | Buildings of Chicago | Chicago  Architecture Center

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe Career –

During World War I, Mies was enlisted and looked after the construction of bridges and roads in the Balkans. He returned to Berlin in 1918, joined several modernist architectural groups and organized many exhibitions. But he did not have any projects in hand. His only building of this period was a memorial of murdered communist leaders Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg, dedicated in 1926, which was demolished by the Nazis. His most important work of these years remained on paper. In fact, these theoretical projects turned in a series of drawings and sketches that are now in the ‘New York Museum of Modern Art’, foretelling the entire range of his later work.

In 1919 built,‘The Friedrichstrasse Office Building’ was one of the first proposals for an all steel and glass building. ‘The Glass Skyscraper’ (1921) applied his idea of a glass skyscraper whose transparent facade reveals the building’s underlying steel structure. Other theoretical studies explored the potential of concrete and brick construction. He planned the first postwar ‘Werkbund exposition’ of housing demonstration projects at Weissenhof in 1927. Europe’s 16 leading modernist architects, including Le Corbusier and Mies himself, designed various houses and apartment buildings, 33 units in all for the exposition. This exposition demonstrated how the various architectural factions of the early postwar years had now merged into a single movement and how the International Style was born. Though not a popular success, the exposition was a critical one, and Europe’s elite suddenly began to commission modern villas, such as Mies’s Tugendhat House (1930) at Brno, Czech.

In 1930, Mies was named the director of the Bauhaus, the same year when the Barcelona Pavilion was taken down from its original location. The focus of Bauhaus was to invent new forms of expressions in architecture, painting and sculpture. After leaving Germany in 1937, Mies accepted the post of being the director at the Armour Institute of Technology in Chicago.

Mies drew his inspiration from the Prussia Architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel who is famous for his Neoclassical and Gothic buildings. Edith Farnsworth chose Mies over Frank Lloyd Wright and Le Corbusier to design her weekend retreat house. In the 1960’s he continued to create beautiful buildings, and the prominent among them are ‘the Bacardi Building’ in Mexico City (1961), ‘Charles Center Office Building’ in Baltimore (1963), ‘the Federal Center’ in Chicago (1964), ‘the Public Library’ in Washington, D.C. (1967); and, ‘the Gallery of the Twentieth Century’ (later called the New National Gallery) in Berlin, dedicated in 1968. ‘The IBM Building’ (1972), in Chicago, was completed after his death.

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe Architecture Career

Early Projects :-
  •  Riehl House, 1907 – Potsdam, Germany.
  • Urbig House, 1917 – Potsdam, Germany.
  • Barcelona Pavilion, 1929 – Barcelona, Spain.
  • Villa Tugendhat, 1930 – Brno, Czech Republic.
  • Lemke House, 1932 – Berlin, Germany.
Lemke House - Wikipedia
Key and major architecture projects :-
  • Farnsworth House, 1951 – Plano, Illinois.
  • 860-880 Lake Shore Apartments, 1951 – Chicago, Illinois.
  • Seagram Building, 1958 – New York City, New York.
  • 2400 Lakeview, 1963 – Chicago Illinois.
  • Chicago Federal Complex, 1964 – Chicago, Illinois.
  • S.R. CrownHall, 1956 – Chicago, Illinois.
IIT College of Architecture

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe Career in the United States –

Mies settled in Chicago, Illinois, United States, after being appointed the head of the architecture School at Chicago’s Armour Institute of Technology (currently the Illinois Institute of Technology). He was commissioned to design the new buildings and the masterplan for the campus.

He became an American citizen in 1944. He introduced his style, which had its origins in western European International style and the German Bauhaus. His architectural style was well received by the Americans, becoming an accepted mode of building for American Cultural and Educational Institutions. 

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe Inspirational & Motivational Quotes

  • Modern buildings of our time are so huge that one must group them. Often the space between these buildings is as important as the buildings themselves. – Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
  • Architecture starts when you carefully put two bricks together. There it begins. – Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
  • True education is concerned not only with practical goals but also with values. Our aims assure us of our material life, our values make possible our spiritual life. – Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
  • Architecture depends on facts, but its real field of activity lies in the realm of the significance. – Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
  • Architecture is the will of an epoch translated into space. Living, Changing, New. Not yesterday, not tomorrow, only today can be given form. Only such architecture is creative. – Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
  • It must be understood that every architecture is bound to its time and manifests itself only in vital tasks and through the materials of its age. It has never been otherwise. – Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
  • Simply by not owning three medium-sized castles in Tuscany I have saved enough money in the last forty years on insurance premiums alone to buy a medium-sized castle in Tuscany. – Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
  • Our utilitarian structures will mature into architecture only when, through their fulfillment of function, they become carriers of the will of the age. – Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
  • Architecture is always the will of the age conceived as space – nothing else. Until this simple truth is clearly recognized, the struggle over the foundation of a new architecture confident in its aims and powerful in its impact cannot be realized; until then, it is destined to remain a chaos of uncoordinated forces. – Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
  • Not yesterday, not tomorrow, only today can be given form. Only this architecture creates. – Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
  • The problem of architecture has always been the same throughout time. Its authentic quality is reached through its proportions, and the proportions cost nothing. In fact, most of them are proportions among things, not the things themselves. Art is almost always a question of proportions. – Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
  • It took me a long time to understand the relationship between ideas and between objective facts. But after I clearly understood this relationship, I didn’t fool around with other wild ideas. That is one of the main reasons why I just make my scheme as simple as possible. – Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
  • Architecture is the will of an epoch translated into space. – Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
  • I don’t want to be interesting. I want to be good. – Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
  • Architecture begins when you place two bricks carefully together. – Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
  • Where can we find greater structural clarity than in the wooden buildings of old? Where else can we find such unity of material, construction and form? here, the wisdom of whole generations is stored. – Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
  • Less is more. – Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
  • Wherever technology reaches its real fulfillment, it transcends into architecture. – Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
  • I hope you will understand that architecture has nothing to do with the inventions of forms. It is not a playground for children, young or old. Architecture is the real battleground of the spirit. – Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
  • God is in the details. – Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
  • Education must lead us from the irresponsible opinion to true responsible judgment. It must lead us from chance and arbitrariness to rational clarity and intellectual order. Therefore, let us guide our students over the road of discipline from materials, through function, to creative work. – Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
  • Architecture depends on its time. It is the crystallization of its inner structure, the slow unfolding of its form. – Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
  • Never talk to a client about architecture. Talk to him about his children. That is simply good politics. he will not understand what you have to say about architecture most of the time. – Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
  • A chair is a very difficult object. A skyscraper is almost easier. That is why Chippendale is famous. – Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

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