German architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (commonly called Mies) is connected to the phrase “less is more.” One of the truly influential figures in modern architecture, Mies called his simplistic but elegant designs “skin and bones” architecture. Today’s Google Doodle, a Googlized version of one of Mies’ most enduring works, celebrates his 126th birthday.
Mies was born in 1886, and began his architectural career in 1908 when he became an apprentice at the studio of Peter Behrens. There, he worked side by side with other modern architecture pioneers Walter Gropius and Le Corbusier. In the 1930s, he worked as the last director of the Bauhaus, the “German School of Building” that was actually opened by Gropius.
In 1937, he came to the United States and wast tapped to head the architecture department at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT). He worked from Chicago for his whole 31-year career in America. Here’s what the IIT has to say about his vision, on his birthday:
Mies van der Rohe believed that architecture should expressed the essence of its civilization – that the same things guiding our lives should build our homes, museums and offices. His buildings speak to our hope for simplicity, shaping our lived environment, and in doing so, illuminating life itself. Today we celebrate this legacy.
Today’s Google Doodle is modeled after one of his most famous buildings – Crown Hall. It is currently the home to the College of Architecture at his beloved IIT. The building encapsulates Mies’ style – a 220′ by 120′ rectangle with a sparse steel frame and glass panes. The top floor is one giant space, what he called a “universal space.”
It was completed in 1956 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2005.