click images for larger viewThe Mies van der Rohe society has just launched a new website, designed by Scott Thomas, whose credits include serving as 2008 design director for Obama for America.
Riehl House, his first project, to the legendary 1921 proposal for an all-glass Friedrichstrasse Office Building, the path-breaking 860-880 Lake Shore Apartments (many photographs), all the way through to the posthumous IBM Building.
There's also a related blog, which features such interesting stuff as this poster for a benefit from earlier this year. In addition to the 1958 Seagram Building being listed among the projects, there's also a link in the blog to a fascinating 1968 documentary created and narrated by urbanist William H. Whyte, The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces, centered on an intensive study of why the Seagram's plaza is one of the most popular in New York.
whyte styles from chris woebken on Vimeo.
The website is both an impressive work of scholarship and a valuable research tool. Perhaps most striking, however, even beyond the buildings, is the full text of various speeches made by Mies, including what he had to say at a 1938 banquet welcoming him to Chicago, after Frank Lloyd Wright introduced him by saying "I give you my Mies van der Rohe. You treat him well and love him as I do," and then left the room and retreated to the bar.
The first aim should be to qualify the person to maintain himself in everyday life. It is to equip him with the necessary knowledge and ability for this purpose. The second aim is directed towards a formation of the personality. It should qualify him to make the right use of his knowledge and ability.
Genuine education is aimed not only towards specific ends but also towards an appreciation of values. Our aims are bound up with the special structure of our epoch. Values, on the contrary, are anchored in the spiritual destination of mankind. The ends, towards which we strive, determine the character of our civilization, while the values we set determine our cultural level.
. . . Here the problem of technology will come within the student’s compass. We will try to propound genuine questions: questions on the value and meaning of technology. We will demonstrate that it not only offers us power, and magnitude, but that it also embraces dangers, that it contains good and evil, and that here mankind must decide aright.
. . We will make the organic principle of order clear as a scale for establishing the significance and proportion of the parts and their relation to the whole.
We will adopt this last principle as the basis of our work.
We are determined to do that in such a perfect way, that the world of our creation begins to flower from within. We want no more – nor can we do more.
Nothing will express the aim and meaning of our work better than the profound words of Thomas Aquinas:
"Beauty is the Radiance of the Truth."
You can read the entire speech here, and visit the Mies van der Rohe Society website here.