What Do We Want? Docent Rights! Farnsworth House Opts For Paid Labor

Eavesdroplet, Midwest
Monday, April 29, 2013
The Farnsworth House. (Courtesy Farnsworth House)

The Farnsworth House. (Courtesy Farnsworth House)

For seven years, Eavesdrop has lived in Chicago without a car and that means we’ve never made the trek out to Mies van der Rohe‘s Farnsworth House. But with all the flooding in the Midwest this year, we could have just used a boat. Now, a little bird has whispered in our ear that at least one docent is bent out of shape by recent changes. It would appear that the National Trust for Historic Preservation is replacing volunteer docents with paid part-time tour guides. Can you imaging, the desire to pay your help? Quelle horreur! We say: way to go Trust!

IIT Celebrates 75 Years of Mies

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

To celebrate its perennial master of modernism, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, the Illinois Institute of Technology produced a video showcasing his work and influence in Chicago. Take a few minutes on the 75th anniversary of Mies’ arrival in the Windy City to watch it.

Floodwaters Surround Mies Van Der Rohe’s Farnsworth House

Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Floodwaters surround Mies van der Rohe's Farnsworth House. (Courtesy Farnsworth House)

Floodwaters surround Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House. (Courtesy Farnsworth House)

Just over four years ago, the Fox River spilled its banks, sending floodwaters into Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House and causing significant damage. Built in 1951 and located outside Chicago, the river is again rising, now fully surrounding the stilted abode turned museum, and the house, operated by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, has shared watery photos on its Farnsworth blog, stating: “The house is fully surrounded by river water, but neither the lower deck nor the upper deck has yet to be breached.” Water is not expected to enter the house, but all precautions are being taken, including elevating interior furnishings on milk crates.When the site is not flooded, tours of the house are available to the public.

What would Mies do?

Thursday, October 11, 2012
Rendering of proposal to add to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library. (Courtesy Mies van der Rohe Society)

Rendering of proposal to add to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library. (Courtesy Mies van der Rohe Society)

The Freelon Group showed off renderings for their renovation of Mies van der Rohe’s Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library in downtown Washington, D.C. Presented to the library’s Board of Directors as part of a long-running discussion over what to do with the central library, the scheme includes a four-story atrium, two additional floors for new tenants, a landscaped public roof garden, and a new ground-level café. According to developer Jair Lynch, the project would cost $175 to $200 million.

Detroit’s Lafayette Towers Skirt Auction Block, For Now

Friday, July 27, 2012
Detroit stalled HUD's planned auction of the Mies towers. (COURTESY GEHAD HADIDI VIA FLICKR.)

Detroit stalled HUD’s planned auction of the Mies towers. (Courtesy GEHAD HADIDI/FLICKR.)

It looks like Mies van der Rohe’s Lafayette Towers in Detroit may avoid the auction block a little longer. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) foreclosed on the high-rise apartment buildings in February, and HUD had planned to put them up for auction this month (albeit with a litany of multi-million-dollar renovations required of the lucky winner).

Detroit exercised its first right of refusal on that course of action, wary of the iconic towers falling into the wrong hands. New York-based Northern Group bought the buildings in 2008 for $16 million in cash, but stopped making payments on its loans by 2010. The towers were transferred to HUD soon after. Now the city’s group for planning and facilities is seeking a private owner to bring the buildings back from disrepair.

Mies Blocks on the Block in Detroit.  Detroit stalled HUD's planned auction of the Mies towers. (COURTESY GEHAD HADIDI VIA FLICKR.)  Mies van der Rohe’s Lafayette Towers are up for sale. It’s a striking reminder of the symbiosis between cities and iconic architecture—one which speaks to the mercurial nature of Detroit’s real estate market since World War II. The twin high-rises were foreclosed in February, and will go up for auction later this month. All 584 apartment units will go to the highest bidder July 18, but this is no ordinary sale. The Department of Housing and Urban Development will require the lucky winner to spend more than $10 million on an 80-page list of renovations to the historic buildings, and invest $2.5 million in an escrow account for HUD to hedge their risk.


Videos> 32 Years After Whyte, Seagram Plaza Still a Flurry of Activity

Thursday, June 28, 2012

For the past eleven years, photographer Jesse David Harris has had unfettered access to two of the most architecturally significant buildings in New York: the Seagram Building and Lever House, both owned by RFR Holdings. As staff photographer for the Lever House Art Collection he began to shoot the Seagram Building with deference to Ezra Stoller. The photographer’s familiarity with the building evolved alongside technology. Last year, Harris began a time-lapse project that reflects his time with Mies van der Rohe’s masterpiece.

Revisit Holly Whyte’s vantage point after the jump.

Chipperfield to Revamp Mies’ Neue Nationalgalerie

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Ciro Miguel/flickr

Stirling Prize winner David Chipperfield will renovate of Mies van der Rohe’s Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin, beating out more than 20 competing proposals. The museum, which houses the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation’s modern art collection, has not undergone any major renovation since it was completed in 1968.

Read More

Happy 126th, Mies!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Happy 126th birthday, Mies van der Rohe! Google and San Francisco-based artist Willie Real are already celebrating with today’s Google Doodle of Mies’ iconic Crown Hall built in 1956 at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, where Mies was director of the College of Architecture. The Mies van der Rohe Society spoke with Real about his design and architectural ambitions. Here’s a sample:

What was the most important thing to convey about Mies in the doodle, and how was it achieved?

Celebrating Mies’ legacy was definitely a challenge. Mies did so many great buildings that are worthy of a doodle but it was pretty evident from the get go that highlighting what many consider his masterpiece was the way to go.

Read the full interview here. Or for another take on the famous architect, check out this creative tribute video.

Mies’ Gas Station Gets Refueled

International, Newsletter
Thursday, March 8, 2012

Courtesy Les Architectes FABG

Designed a year before his death in 1968, Mies van der Rohe’s Esso station on l’Île des Sœurs in Montreal has been vacant and shuttered since 2008. The station, intended to serve nearby apartment blocks also designed by Mies, was built during the early urbanization of the island and closed when another station opened closer to the island’s main thoroughfare. Having been declared a historic monument in 2009, the community eventually decided to restore the structure and convert it to an intergenerational community center.

Continue reading after the jump.

On View> 194X–9/11: American Architects and the City

Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Mies van der Rohe's Museum for a Small City Project, 1942 (Courtesy MoMA)

Mies van der Rohe's Museum for a Small City Project, 1942 (Courtesy MoMA)

194X–9/11: American Architects and the City
The Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53rd St.
Through January 2

Prompted by the United States’ entrance into World War II in 1942, Architectural Forum magazine commissioned pioneering architects to imagine and plan a postwar American city. At the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, 194X-9/11: American Architects and the City features the plans, renderings, and sculpture of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Louis Kahn, Paul Rudolph, and Rem Koolhaas and their ideas for cities of the future. Rarely displayed works, such as Mies van der Rohe’s collage Museum for a Small City Project (1942), above, reveal plans for cultural centers and urban life in uncertain times.

Quick Clicks> Sotheby’s Farmers Market, NYC Camping, Big Blue’s Architecture, Dirtiest Cities

Daily Clicks
Thursday, June 16, 2011

Sotheby’s Wants to Open… a Farmer’s Market: In an unlikely move, the auction house is proposing a youth-run farmer’s market in front of its Upper East Side headquarters, after a sale of heirloom produce raised $100,000 for non-profits last year. The plan went before the community board this week, and DNAinfo reports: “Some were supportive of the small-scale event that would bring fresh food to the area… Others were more skeptical and wanted to know where the kids manning the stand on between East 71st and 72nd streets — on Sept. 6, 13, 20 and 27 — and the produce would be coming from.”

Camping in New York… City: The National Parks Service announced plans to turn Brooklyn’s Floyd Bennet Field, a decommissioned airport once used by Amelia Earhart, into the country’s largest urban campground. Ninety camp sites have been planned for the next two years, with as many as 600 in the future. Floyd Bennet Field already has occasional summer camping nights, which the NYTimes Frugal Traveler tried out for $20 last year.

How IBM Re-Defined Corporate Architecture: Big Blue celebrates its 100th anniversary this week, and Network World takes a look at the company’s greatest architectural gems. The company hired some of the biggest names, including Eero Saarinen, Charles and Ray Eames, Paul Rand, and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, to design its modernist offices and later suburban corporate campuses. Martin Moeller at the National Building Museum calls IBM the “vanguard” in using buildings to express corporate identity.

America’s Dirtiest Cities: Travel and Leisure just released its list of worst offenders. New Orleans, Philadelphia and Los Angeles top the list. Readers chose the “winners” based on litter, air pollution, and the taste of local tap water, in the magazine’s annual America’s Favorite Cities survey.

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