Ludwig Mies van der Rohe is one of the twentieth century's most influential architects. His most well-known projects include the Barcelona Pavilion in Spain (1929); the Seagram Building in New York (1954-56); the Farnsworth House (1945-50), 860 and 880 Lakeshore Drive (1945-51) and the IIT Campus (1939-58), all in and around Chicago, and the New National Gallery in Berlin (1962-68). These are only a few of Mies's pavilions, houses, skyscrapers and campuses, which all epitomized a radically new structural and spatial clarity.
The purity of his Mies's architecture is almost surprising in light the diversity of his interests. An auto-didact, Mies studied philosophy and science as well as design. Author Detlef Mertins, spent over ten years researching and writing this comprehensive monograph. In addition to traveling to see the buildings and reading nearly everything written by and about Mies, Mertins also conducted a detailed study of the architectural, philosophical and scientific literature in Mies's own library. The result is a lucid text that not only gives the reader detailed insight into all of Mies's work, but which also explores the variety of ideas that influenced this exceptional figure. The scholarship is rigorous, but the accessible writing and the highly visual, project-by-project presentation also invites those readers who possess an interest in the topic, but who lack detailed knowledge in it.
Arranged in chronological order, the book's five sections and its conclusion offer a synthetic portrait of Mies's career and reception, spanning sixty years, two continents and two world wars. The text tells a continuous story, however, most chapters focus on a significant work (the Seagram building or the IIT campus), allowing for an in-depth presentation of photographs and drawings; other chapters focus on a specific event in Mies's life (such Mies's time as the head of the Bauhaus).
All the important buildings are presented through photographs, drawings and diagrams, showing the innovative structures, fine details and material richness that distinguish Mies's work. In addition, many pieces of art and architecture that influenced Mies are also illustrated as well as being discussed in the text.
About the Author
Detlef Mertins (1954-2011) made lasting contributions to the theory and history of modernism in architecture, art, philosophy, and urbanism. From 2002 to 2007, he was Professor of Architecture and Chair of the Department of Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania. He also taught at the University of Toronto and, as a visiting professor, at Columbia University, Harvard University, Princeton University and Rice University. Among his many published books are Modernity Unbound (2011); G: An Avant-Garde Journal of Art, Architecture, Design, and Film, 1923-1926 (2010), co-edited with Michael Jennings; The Presence of Mies (1994) and Metropolitan Mutations: The Architecture of Emerging Public Spaces (1989). Mertins also published numerous essays in scholarly journals and anthologies, as well as critical writings on contemporary architecture.
"Puts Mies's work back at the center of the architectural debate."-Barry Bergdoll, Acting Chief Curator of Architecture and Design at MoMA "A formidable commitment to understanding both the man and the work."-John Pawson "By providing a rich texture of details, Professor Mertins succeeds in making his book an enlightening and enjoyable journey for both serious students of architecture and design as well as those interested in learning more about the creative genius [Mies van der Rohe]."-Maurice D. Parrish, Executive Director of the Farnsworth House "Do we need another book on the master of universal space, heir to the Platonic ideal, and pursuer of the perfectly understated environment? For those interested in the intellectual context of the work - in Mies as philosopher-architect - the answer is yes."- Library Journal, Starred Review "A hulking new monograph."-The Wall Street Journal "Designers and design buffs seeking to understand this giant better make room on their shelves for Mies."-Interior Design "If you've been coveting the definitive guide to one of the world's most celebrated architects, this epic volume is worth the splurge."-The New York Post "... A fascinating survey of the architect's intellectual concerns: questions of the body and soul, technology and nature, and the individual and the community. Complemented by over 700 photographs, sketches, and architectural plans, this text ranks highly in the Mies van der Rohe corpus."-Publishers Weekly, Starred Review "There is no lack of writing on Mies van der Rohe... However, Detlef Mertin's new book ought to make the list of the handful of exceptional, definitive volumes... Stunning photography, impeccable historical research and an obvious ear for philosophy comprise each of the six sections of its 528 pages, creating a book that is an extraordinary, beautiful intellectual journey and a rethinking of the function of the political in architecture."-Identity "A monumental monograph on the legendary architect sheds new light on the godfather of modernism."-Metropolis "What marks out Mertins's study is its unremitting focus on the ideas that shaped Mies's designs, and on how this son of an Aachen stonemason came to create a form of architecture that spoke a universal language and gave a defining three-dimensional form to a self-consciously modern era."-The Telegraph "A new generation is discovering that Mies's avocation of craft and quality are key to the architecture of simplicity. Stuffed full of photographs, plans, and archival material, [Mies] is the new benchmark."-Wallpaper "Mertins' hefty and lavishly illustrated volume is ambitiously comprehensive... It challenges us to question all previous assumptions we may have entertained about the architect... One of the greatest virtues of Mertins' Mies, one which distinguishes this work from the many monographic studies of the architect, is a deeply ingrained historiographic consciousness... The author's thorough knowledge [is not used] towards recycling the same arguments, but as the foundational material to contribute something new... Mertins' book asks us to reconsider the very genre of the architectural monograph."-Architectural Review