“The Bauhaus has a certain idea, but this idea has nothing to do with politics. Look at your writing table, this shabby writing table. Do you like it? I would throw it out the window.”
Mies Van Der Rohe’ diplomatic plea to Alfred Rosenberg, minister of culture in the newly elected Nazi government, to reopen the Bauhaus (1933)
“Mies’s work had an essence of formlessness, amorphousness, nothingness, perversion and anxiety behind a stealth shield of serenity.”
This year we will scavenge history to reformulate our essentially instrumental ideas in relation to the high modernist project of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886-1969).
From the completion of OMA’s McCormick Tribune Campus Center at IIT to the major show curated by Phyllis Lambert at CCA and Detlef Mertins’ recent tome on the subject, the rediscovery of Mies has been gathering pace. In this studio, pointed studies in mathematical and sensual aesthetics will provide the basis for individual or group projects leading to the deployment of instrumentally updated prototypes in response to the material/programmatic requirements of the terrifying ‘blank’ horizontal typologies at which Mies excelled. Built or planned, these so-called ‘Performance Sheds’ include, among others, the 1950-52 IIT Crown Hall, the 1953 Convention Hall, the 1962 Berlin New National Gallery, plus countless generic proposals emanating from MvdR in the 1950s and 1960s. In their day these beautiful proto-mat buildings reformulated the type of the clear-span horizontal organisation with varying degrees of efficiency. Today they impress us mostly with their formal rigor and simplicity, structural excess, and frequent lack of fitness to purpose (notably in Berlin, where the art collections had to be shoved underground). The studio will work towards redeveloping the type and updating its functionality, structure, and envelope performance in response to contemporary, multi-faceted user programmes and opportunities defined by the studio participants themselves.
A trip to Chicago is planned.