Mies van der Rohe, one of the most acclaimed modernist architects of the mid 20th century, left his imprint on Chicago. His “less is more” concept of architectural design can be seen throughout the city and includes the S. R. Crown Hall, home to the Illinois Institute of Technology’s College of Architecture.
Built in 1956, Time magazine called it "one of the world's most influential, inspiring and astonishing structures." Other van der Rohe classics include gleaming apartment buildings rising above Lake Shore Drive as well as the Farnsworth House located near Plano, Illinois.
This 1951 home with its sleek, almost severe geometric lines and large panes of glass, is considered to be one of the most famous examples of modernist domestic architecture. Van der Rohe, director of architecture at IIT for 20 years, is credited with being one of the major contributors to modern urban architecture.
Authors Franz Schulze and Edward Windhor trace the famed German-American architect’s life in "Mies van der Rohe: A Critical Biography Expanded Edition" (University of Chicago Press $45). Schulze, an emeritus professor of art at Lake Forest College, originally authored a biography about van der Rohe that was published in 1985. This new book is more than just a revision says Schulze noting that Windhorst’s training and practice as an architect as well as information that the two have discovered adds a new perspective to his original biography. This includes new details about van der Rohe’s marriage to Ada Bruhn, a former school teacher and the daughter of a wealthy inventor, as well as his personal ties and professional partnership with Lilly Reich, a noted German modernist designer.
The extensively researched book also examines in depth the legal proceedings around Farnsworth and the discovery of two previously unknown Mies-designed homes. For those who admire the architect’s use of open spaces and industrial materials in changing the way buildings were designed and constructed in the mid-20th century.