Celebrating Mies van der Rohe

Mies van der Rohe was born March 27, 1886 in Aachen, Germany. Although his given name at birth was Maria Ludwig Michael Mies, he would later change it.

A Storied Career Begins in Berlin

By the age of 15, Mies had begun apprenticing with several architects, and at 19, he moved to Berlin. By age 20, he had completed his first architectural commission there, and his designs were garnering some attention.

When Mies was just 21, the progressive architect Peter Behrens offered him a job, and his career took off.

Bahaus and Barcelona 

After World War II, Mies designed the German Pavilion (renamed the Barcelona Pavilion) for the 1929 International Exposition in Spain. Demolished in 1930, then rebuilt in 1986, it remains one of his most famous buildings, and a prime example of his use of open space.

Mies’ early life – and the first half of his career – overlapped with a tense time in history. He would serve as the last director of the Bauhaus, the famous school of design in Germany, before closing the school and moving to the US.

For the Love of Design?

Mies was highly focused on architecture most of his time as Director of the Bauhaus, some say to the detriment of the work of other interior designers.  He did, however, collaborate with architect Lilly Reich – then his main squeeze – to design the Barcelona Chair. He left Lilly behind when he emigrated to the US in 1939, but the chair remains an icon of Bauhaus design. (See this dezeen article to learn more about the architect’s Bauhaus days.)


Chicago Style: Bauhaus Comes to America

Not long after completing his first commission in the US - a residential work in Wyoming - Mies settled in Chicago, where he headed the Illinois Institute of Technology, and maintained a studio downtown, for more than 30 years.

Arguably, the three buildings Mies is best known for are Crown Hall (1956) on the IIT Campus, the Seagram Building (1958) in New York City, and The Farnsworth House, built on the Fox River in Plano, Illinois.

 14 Fascinating Facts about the Farnsworth House

Global Architectural Influence & Legacy

In 1960, Mies van der Rohe was honored with the AIA Gold Medal, the highest award given by the American Association of Architects. 

Since his death in 1969, it’s clear that Mies had a lasting impact on the field of architecture, and that his designs have influenced much of modern design. His work is characterized by rectilinear forms and open spaces, and has been referred to as a “neoclassical” or “International” style.

 What’s it like to build the Mid-Century Modern Farnsworth House?  Find out here.

"Museum-Worthy Miniature" Farnsworth

When Kris Christensen built and reviewed our scale model Farnsworth House kit, he called it a "museum-worthy" miniature. We we delighted to hear that and of course, completely agreed. (When you see the tremendous detail and care that goes into creating these scale model kits, you'll understand the pride we feel in offering them.)

Maybe you’d like to display the “museum-worthy miniature” scale model of Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House but you’re not ready to build it yourself. Problem solved: We offer professionally-built models, fully assembled and ready for display. Order yours now.