Facade Expert Francisco Gonzalez-Pulido on the Perils of Homogenous Design

Leatop Plaza in Guangzhou, China. (Courtesy JAHN)

Leatop Plaza in Guangzhou, China. (Courtesy JAHN)

According to Francisco Gonzalez-Pulido, president of Chicago-based JAHN, contemporary facade design neglects one of the building envelope’s foremost responsibilities: storytelling. “There is a focus now on using the building massing to convey the key message,” he said. “However, I think it’s through the facade that we can bring a more compelling narrative about how the building functions.” As an example, Gonzalez-Pulido pointed to Mies van der Rohe’s One IBM Plaza, which he can see from his office. “When you look at the mechanical floors, they’re treated differently,” he said. “In the lobby, the glass is different. This is actually the responsibility of the facade—it’s more than a piece of glass and metal to cover the building.” Read More

Floating Farnsworth: Mies van der Rohe’s Iconic Illinois House Could Get Flood Protection

Flooding at the Farnsworth House in mid-April 2014. (Courtesy Farnsworth House)

Flooding at the Farnsworth House in mid-April 2014. (Courtesy Farnsworth House)

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s archetypal modernist home, the Farnsworth House, is drowning. The banks of the Fox River served as an idyllic setting for the building’s white steel and glass when it landed in Plano, Illinois. But lately the Fox has gone rabid, spilling over its banks three times in the past 18 years. So what to do? Preservationists are looking at installing hydraulic jacks to lift the house during floods, to the tune of about $3 million. Call it the Three Million Dollar Modernist. Ironically Mies put the house on stilts to prevent such flooding; I guess you can’t outwit a wily Fox.

Preservationists Fight To Save Modernist North Carolina Office Building

Small's modernist marvel. (Courtesy John Morris, goodnightraleigh.com)

Small’s modernist marvel. (Courtesy John Morris, goodnightraleigh.com)

A group of North Carolina preservationists is trying to protect a local piece of modernist history from the impending wrecking ball. The News & Observer reported that a group called North Carolina Modernist Houses (NCMH) has started a campaign to save the former Raleigh Orthopaedic Clinic building, which was designed by Raleigh architect G. Milton Small over 50 years ago.

“The building is really Raleigh’s finest example of international architecture,” said George Smart, the head of NCMH, who noted that Small studied under Mies van der Rohe at IIT.

Continue reading after the jump.

Updating Washington, D.C.’s Mies van der Rohe Library

The Great Hall. (Courtesy Martinez and Johnson + Mecanoo)

The Great Hall. (Courtesy Martinez and Johnson + Mecanoo)

Earlier this year, the Washington, D.C. Public Library announced that Martinez+Johnson and Mecanoo had won their competition to design  the next phase of the city’s Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library.  Check out AN‘s coverage of the winning design here. The firm beat out two other finalists to revamp van der Rohe‘s iconic work. Here’s AN’s guide to the competition and the runners-up.

More after the jump.

Construction Underway at Norman Foster’s 610 Lexington Avenue Tower

(Courtesy Foster + Partners)

(Courtesy Foster + Partners)

Norman Foster has broken ground on a skinny residential tower in Midtown Manhattan. Situated adjacent to the 1958 Seagram Building on the site of a former YWCA, Foster + Partners‘ 61-story white luxury tower at 610 Lexington Avenue will dwarf Mies van der Rohe’s 38-story bronze-clad landmark.

“It’s not simply about our new building, but about the composition it creates together with one of the 20th century’s greatest,” said Foster + Partners’ Chris Connell in a statement. “In contrast to Seagram’s dark bronze, our tower will have a pure white, undulating skin. Its proportions are almost impossibly slim and the views will be just incredible.”

Ten Finalists Selected for Renovation of Mies-Designed MLK Memorial Library in DC

East
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
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Mies van der Rohe's Martin Luther King Memorial Library in Washington DC (Cliff1066™/ Flickr)

Mies van der Rohe’s Martin Luther King Memorial Library in Washington DC (Cliff1066 / Flickr)

Out of a crop of 26, ten teams have been invited to present their technical proposals for the renovation of the Mies van der Rohe–designed Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library in Washington, D.C. District officials are hoping to transform the landmark 1972 building, Mies’ last built work and his only in D.C., into a state-of-the-art central library fit for the nation’s capital.

See the finalists after the jump.

Act Fast! Early Bird Rates For Facades+ PERFORMANCE Chicago Ends Today

National
Friday, September 27, 2013
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blogbanner
Calling architects, engineers, fabricators, consultants, and other design professionals: don’t miss your opportunity to join the industry’s leading innovators in our series of hands-on technology workshops and in-depth dialog workshops, only at the premiere conference for high-performance building envelopes – Facades+ PERFORMANCE Chicago, October 24th-25th!

Register today to take advantage of our Early Bird Special and be ready to get your hands dirty with the latest tools and techniques that are changing the face of contemporary architecture. Join Jonathan Schumacher and Mostapha Roudsari of Thornton Tomasetti, Nathan Miller of CASE Design, Ronnie Parsons of Mode Lab, and other industry professionals for our full-day tech workshops, and gain the valuable skills necessary to deliver cutting-edge facades in today’s dynamic architectural landscape. Registered architects can earn 8 AIA LU credits as they catch up on the ever-evolving tools of the trade in the Mies van der Rohe-designed Illinois Institute of Technology’s Main Campus in Chicago, so don’t miss out!

Read More

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

Eavesdroplet, Midwest
Monday, April 29, 2013
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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

Midwest
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
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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

Midwest
Tuesday, March 12, 2013
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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?

East
Thursday, October 11, 2012
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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

Midwest
Friday, July 27, 2012
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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.

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