Google Doodle honours architecture pioneer Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

27 Mar 2012

The Google Doodle marking what would have been the 126th birthday of architect Ludwig Mies

A member of the German avante-garde Bauhaus movement in the 1920s, Ludwig Mies, is the latest creative icon to be honoured via a Google Doodle on what is the 126th anniversary of his birth. Mies is seen as one of the pioneers of modern architecture and is associated with the aphorism ‘less is more’.

Miesian architecture is best summed up by the desire to create free and open space enclosed within a structural order with minimum presence.

And so in fitting style, the new Google Doodle – a stylised Google logo on the search engine’s homepage – resembles a steel-framed glass building with the Google letters enclosed within in pastel colours.

Forced to emigrate from Germany in 1937 because his designs were deemed by the Nazis as not ‘German’ in character, self-educated Mies (1886-1969) is known for inspiring modern architecture with a minimal framework of structural order using industrial steel and plate glass.

God is in the details

Mies often mined and studied the work of great philosophers and thinkers to enhance his own understanding of the character and essential qualities of the technological times he lived in.

Another aphorism he is known for sums up his designs – ‘God is in the details’.

On arrival in the US, Mies settled in Chicago, where he was head of the school of architecture at Chicago’s Institute of Technology (IIT) and where he designed the S.R. Crown Hall, which is widely regarded as his finest work and the definition of Miesian architecture.

Prominent buildings that define his work include IBM Plaza in Chicago, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Farnsworth House, the Seagram Building in New York, the Chicago Federal Center complex and 860-880 Lake Shore Drive in Chicago.

His last great work was the Neue Nationalgalerie art museum in the New National Gallery in Berlin, a building of glass and steel with transparent walls supported by an external frame.

Mies is also know for classic modern furniture design, such as the Barcelona chair, the Brno chair and the Tugenhat chair.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years