Wednesday, February 18, 2015

330 North Wabash - IBM Building
  by: chicago designslinger

 [330 North Wabash - IBM Building (1971) Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Office of Mies van der Rohe, architects; C.F. Murphy & Associates, associate architects /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

In May 1968 the International Business Machines company announced that they would be constructing a new building in Chicago designed by the internationally renowned, 82-year-old architect Mies van der Rohe.

[330 North Wabash - IBM Building, 330 N. Wabash Avenue, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

The dark brown tower would be Mies last Chicago building, the end in a long line of projects constructed in the designer's home city of the past 30 years. The building contained all the signature elements of the Miesian method keeping things down to the essentials, resulting in a purely modern structure for a modern time. Often faulted for the starkness of his buildings, the architect made no excuse for the lack of decoration for decoration's sake, firmly believing that architecture should be a reflection of its era. To him, the buildings he designed embraced the technology of the times, no different than what medieval masons did when they figured out how to use the tools and materials at hand to build the great cathedrals.

    [330 North Wabash - IBM Building, National Register of Historic Places, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

He was often taken to task for decrying decoration while at the same time applying rolled steel I-beams to his exteriors, which some argued were pure decoration. Although the thin vertical beam structurally supported the floor to ceiling windows, critics felt that the "Less is more" architect was in violation of his own principles. Mies countered that good design is good design, and that nothing coming off his drafting table had anything more than it needed.
While Mies was involved in the design of the IBM tower, he didn't live to see it completed. He died two years earlier in 1969 at the age of 83. Gone but certainly not forgotten, he was recently saluted as one of architecture's greats in a series of celebrations around the world commemorating the modern master on the anniversary of his 125th birthday, March 27th.

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