If you’re into architecture, specifically epic modernism, then I would encourage you to pick up this new monograph on Mies van der Rohe–simply called Mies. It was written by the late Detlef Mertins, who was the Chair of the Department of Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania from 2002 to 2007, but is originally from Toronto.
Detlef was one of the most brilliant, but also nicest, people I’ve ever met and unquestionably the leading scholar on all things Mies. He passed away in the midst of working on this publication, but it was completed by his partner Keller Easterling–another powerful architecture mind–and a few other contributors.
For those of you unfamiliar with the work of Mies, here’s a brief description from the book publisher:
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe is one of the twentieth century’s most influential architects. His most well-known projects include the Barcelona Pavilion in Spain (1929); the Seagram Building in New York (1954-56); the Farnsworth House (1945-50), 860 and 880 Lakeshore Drive (1945-51) and the IIT Campus (1939-58), all in and around Chicago, and the New National Gallery in Berlin (1962-68). These are only a few of Mies’s pavilions, houses, skyscrapers and campuses, which all epitomized a radically new structural and spatial clarity.
For readers in Toronto, Mies’s biggest contribution is the Toronto Dominion Centre, which is a beautiful example of the International Style. The complex was designated under the Ontario Heritage Act in 2003. But in addition to it being great architecture, its construction in the late 60s really coincided with Toronto’s rise as a modern metropolis. Here’s a photo of the first tower from blogTO.
The TD Centre introduced not only a new architectural language into Toronto’s urban fabric, it also introduced a new and bolder way of how we thought of ourselves as a city. Remember this was a moment in time where Toronto was just about to overtake Montreal as the most populous city in Canada.
We were reimagining our city with Mies.