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Minimal Master

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe 'S.R. Crown Hall' Chicago Illinois 1956.

Like Philip Johnson's Glass House, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe's S.R. Crown Hall, located on the Illinois Institute of Technology's main campus in Chicago, is a critically important monument in postwar construction. Taken on its own terms, the building epitomizes "Miesian" modern architecture as well as the International Style, which has long been considered - and historically accepted - as one of the 20th Century's most important and widely distributed architectural styles. Crown Hall also has both national and local significance because of its close personal and professional association with Mies van der Rohe (who was Director of the Department of Architecture from 1938-1958), and whose architecture and educational philosophy have had, and continue to have, a profound effect on the course of American architecture.

Crown Hall itself marks a historical distillation and crystallization of many Mies' most profound architectural ideas. The building is a bright illumination of the primary architectural principles and details of many of his previously unrealized European projects, and an exceptional precedent for many of his most notable buildings that would follow it in the remaining 10-15 years of his career. Mies personally stated that the building was "the clearest structure we have done, the best to express our philosophy," and he always considered it his best and most important building on the campus.

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe 'S.R. Crown Hall' Chicago Illinois 1956.

Located on the Illinois Institute of Technology's architecturally important campus, S.R. Crown Hall, initially called the Industrial Design and Architecture Building, is one of the finest icons of modern architecture Mies created for the campus. Mies himself considered S.R. Crown Hall to be the clearest statement of his philosophy of a universal building type, which was associated with what has come to be called the "International Style". However, within this architectural style, there is a complete and distinct genre and style more precisely known as "Miesian Modernism", due to its very specific synthesis of technology, materials, detailing and design. Crown Hall is the epitome of both.

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe 'S.R. Crown Hall' Chicago Illinois 1956.

Crown Hall is located immediately south of a rectangular lawn that runs along the east side of Siegel Hall; this space was recently re-designed and re-planted by landscape architect Peter Lindsay Schaudt. Peter Lindsay Schaudt Architects based the design and plantings on his interpretation of Alfred CaldwelFs original vision for the campus landscape, which was not fully realized due to a lack of resources. A smaller lawn with mature trees lies immediately west of this space, separated by a 6' wide sidewalk that runs north-south. Facing these fields is the north elevation of S.R. Crown Hall. Described by the internationally renowned and respected architect Peter Carter, a former graduate student (1957-58) of Mies van der Rohe, who also worked in Mies' firm from 1958-68, Crown Hall represents the first large-scale realization of Mies van der Rohe's concept for a clear-span/universal-space building. Housing IIT's School of Architecture and City Planning and the Department of Design, this building consists of a 120 foot wide by 220 feet long, 18-foot high column-free hall (known now as the Upper Core), in which the space is subdivided by low freestanding wall and two non-structural service shafts into student work areas, a central exhibition space and administration corral. The hall is raised 6 ft above the ground in order to provide natural light and ventilation for the workshops and lecture rooms located on the floor below. From the south the building is approached by a broad flight of steps, interrupted at mid point by a floating platform; this structure is separately articulated from both the building and the ground, and upon mounting it one is imperceptibly lifted from the one to the other.

Overall dimension of plan 120 X 220 ft
Gross area per floor 26,000 sq ft
Structural bay 60 X 120 ft
Roof Cantilever 20ft
Depth of roof girder 6 ft 3 in
Clear height of main floor 18 ft
Clear height of lower floor 12 ft
Height of main floor above grade 6 ft
Height of building 27 ft 5 in