11.07.2019 in Exploratory

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe Essay


Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe is a celebrated architecture of the 19th century. He designed several buildings that have left a marked in the world of structural design. The Seagram is an example of a classical work of art by Mie that applies the principles of modernism. The structure utilizes modern materials as part of it. Moreover, Mie introduces the concept of the Plaza in the feature. The artist motivation lies in his desire to move away from the traditional ornamental style. The following paper analyzes Mie in view of the Seagram building. It focuses on his influence, ideology and gives an analysis of the picture
Keywords: architecture, building, modernism

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Ludwig Mies van der Rohe on Seagram Building


Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe is a popular architecture of modern styles. He did bring a great revolution to the building industry. Born in Germany in the late 18th century, Mies brought a new meaning and great significance to the world of arts and design. One of the famous buildings that he constructed is the Seagram building. It lies in the heart of New York. In fact, it is a classical presentation of architecture quest for freedom. The following paper critically analyses Mies thoughts, the influence and knowledge towards the creation of the Seagram building.

Mies’s Influence and Source of Ideology

Seagram Building portrays a perfect transformation of a traditional neoclassic style to modernism. Mies, as the architecture spent a lot of his time in designing the traditional neoclassical homes. However, the proposal faced a lot of criticism from other theorists. Consequently, He joined his avant-garde in what later became the long search for a new style. It is important to note that the modem industrial age was a motivation for Mies. As the world continued to evolve, there was a gap in the world of structural design. The progressive theorists criticized traditionalism to be old and without a modern touch.

Moreover, they felt architectures used ornamental traditional styles to hide their inability of matching the ongoing revolution. Mie’s greatest influence on the skyscraper emanated lied in his philosophical thinking (Adelyn, 2009). For example space, while at the same time applying the modern materials such as steel and bronze. In other words, he had to shift from ornamental use. Moreover, The Gothic architecture was a spiritual discipline that inspired him to interpret the technological needs of his time.

He saw the need to integrate Public space. The functionalist aspect was also a useful ideology. It motivated Mies to the fact that functional utility of building was essential in view of the public domain. In other words, formal decorative articulation in the Seagram building needed to display the structural elements of arts that are necessary for Architecture. Moreover, his close association with Bauhaus a laboratory architecture was a source of great ideas. However, it is the mounting criticism of the traditional style that motivated him to set up a new approach. He was guided by a rational to solve the problem and an exterior expression for of modern materials and structures. The Seagram building consequently, he applied the principles of modernism.

Analysis of Mie’s, Ideology in Seagram Building

The Seagram building depicts Mie’s ideologies at work. First and foremost, the building constitutes of 38-stories that epitomize elegance and the principles of modernism. It is a combination of a steel monument frame and reinforced concrete core lateral stiffness (Adelyn, 2009). Moreover, these the solid shears extend to the 17th floor. It also has a diagonal interior bracing that goes to the 29th floor. In essence, Mies ideology emanates when he combine braced frame and moment frame. It is a foundational element of novelty that moves away from traditionalism. Moreover, it is one of the buildings that that uses vertical truss bracing system and concrete lateral frame highlight Mie’s view on freedom for the modern architecture. In fact, it shows the impact the progressive theorist had on Mies. He was delinking himself from the criticism that had characterized his life.

However, another spectacular feature of the Seagram building that echoes Mies thoughts is the Plaza. The Seagram and lever house highlight the magnificent skyscraper designs in New York. In fact, one may see it as a simple box made of bronze. Mies intention was to create an urban space in front of the building (Adelyn, 2009). The idea looked quite luxurious and was easily opposed by many. Nevertheless, it became popular with the emergence of National Zoning resolutions.

The plaza was also significant in that it created a procession that marked the entry into the Seagram. Consequently, it gave the threshold that acts as a linkage between the city and the elevated building. It is also important to bring out that the exterior surface design was an idea of Mies. For example, the non-structural metal bronze seen in the façade expresses the view of the structural frame that lies unseen. There are also other vertical; elements on the window panels that offer stiffening support. Moreover, they also enhance the vertical articulation of the building. It is also evidence that in this piece of work, Mie distinguished himself from the usual New York morphology and the conventional economics that defined erection of skyscrapers. The windows blind is another vital feature that affirmed the uniform appearance that was applauded by international style architects.

The Role of New York in Mie’s Ideology

New York plays a critical role in the life of Mie. According to Stichweh (2009), Mie was German, who developed his initial architectural skills in his native country. In fact, he was at one time the director of the laboratory of architecture and design in Dessau, Germany. Nevertheless, the political pressure from the Nazi forced them to vacate the campus. In spite of Mies efforts to stabilize the school, he did not succeed. In fact, the Germans regarded his style as not ‘Germanic’. Consequently, he moved to the United States where he flourished. The Seagram building displays the technological advances that were present in the United States in those days. It enhanced his knowledge in prototype solution. It is apparent that the liberal nature of New York cultivated Mie’s idea of functionalism (Adelyn, 2009). German was conservative and did not give him the architectural freedom he required to come up with the structure.

Freedom vs. Modernity in Seagram Building

The concepts of independence and modernism play out in the Seagram structure. It is unmistakable that the principles of modern technology occur. For example, there is integration of steel materials in the constructions. The famous traditional ornamentals style that characterized Mie in the 18th century no longer takes a place. Other principles revolve around the creation of urban space. In fact, the perception is present in the design of most buildings in the world today. However, it can also be argued that Mie sought freedom in the artistic work. It is because German citizens are conservative.

Mies was out to explore new styles that matched the evolving technology. In designing Seagram, Mies exercised freedom of choice especially in settling of material and structure. Combining the steel and concrete lateral for stiffness shows the liberty of thoughts that Mie had in coming up with the building. The Plaza, that was not a common feature in other works, depicts the architectures point in meeting the needs of the public (Adelyn, 2009). Consequently, I believe that Mie’s design of Seagram building is a perfect presentation of the quest for freedom and modernism. After all, for him to engage in current technologies, he must have the freedom to put his ideas to work


It is apparent that Seagram Building by Mies portrays some of the architectures classical ideologies. The concepts of functionalism coupled with modernism are critical in the work. Mie moves away from the conservative nature that defines his native land. His application of modern materials such as bronze and the urban space did bring a lot of technological changes. Indeed, it is the most striking artistic work of the 19th century.

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