Archive for October, 2007


Wanna sleep in a Mies hotel?

Crain’s reports that Mies’ IBM building in Chicago may become a high-end hotel.

We had the news back in July. Along with some criticism of the changes already made to Mies’ great lobby.

Why change IBM’s uses? Trump Tower (left) has blocked many of the views up the river, making it less attractive to commercial tenants.


(Photo taken two nights ago out the window where I stayed in Chicago!)

Thanks Coudal!


We had a blast yesterday linking Mies and Rem at Jim Coudal’s Seed Conference. Great people, great confab. Straightforward smarts. Don’t miss the next one.

We talked about how Mies designed most of the campus where the conference was held – the Illinois Institute of Technology. And how he refined his vocabulary there until he was able to create a masterpiece, the school of architecture, Crown Hall. We talked about the building we were in – Rem Koolhaas’ Student Center. And about how Rem (“I don’t respect Mies. I love Mies”) responds to Mies in his work.

So after our talk, we walked across the street, passed the lovely new landscaping around Crown Hall, and stepped onto Mies’ travertine steps,

I paused a moment. The shadows were just like Josef Albers’ (a colleague of Mies at the Bauhaus) “Transformation of a Scheme”

which I’d just looked at for three days in the entrance to the Yale University Art Gallery (by Louis Kahn.) With the light I saw, I knew I was in for something special in Crown. I entered Mies’ “temple” – his glorious, floating, center-less space. I’ve been hundreds of times and had never seen it as it was on this glorious late October day.

Light reflected up from the floor onto the ceiling, which “floated” more than usual.

Long, gorgeous shadows were cast from the south, into the central space, also reflected upwards.

The facade – a Mondrian-like composition of distant, middle and close view; present and future; real tree, symbol of tree; permeable, less permeable. Beautifully and rhythmically composed.

So thanks to for bringing me back to Chicago, for a day, and to “the temple.” Here’s how Jim Coudal feels about Crown Hall.

And if you’re in Chicago, don’t miss Kenneth Frampton lecture on “Reading Architecture: A Comparative Critique” in Crown Hall on Nov. 2 at 6 pm. I hope the light is stunning for you. Even if not, Frampton will be!

Which reminds me, since I just heard Kenneth Frampton lecture at Yale on the work of Japanese architect Tadao Ando (my favorite living architect?) I’d like to see IIT commission Ando, who also worships Mies, to design a building for the campus. If you’re going to build, as IIT is, get the great ones. Kind of like if you’re going to build on the Acropolis, as they just have. Well isn’t Crown Hall the modern Parthenon? I’m sure Ando would love to do it. The question is, would he reduce his fee low enough to be affordable to IIT.

As IIT builds, let’s develop a series of buildings of the highest quality, responding to Mies. He can stand up to them all. Who would you have design for IIT?


This architect’s website tests you before it lets you in!

Click ‘enter’ once and then don’t immediately click it again. Wait for the stones, then make the best design you can.

If you’re not good the site will tell you to “put some heart into it.”
Try to get “Wowsers! You rock” – when it’s impressed.

This firm is one to judge, as once you get in to their site, you’ll see they do great work. It’s also my current favorite architect’s website.


If you’re in the Boston area, Ensamble Studio’s principal architect Anton Garcia-Abril will speak this Friday at 7pm in Room 111 – Graduate School of Design – Harvard.


Just you, me, Mies, and Rem.

On Monday, October 29, 2007 in Chicago, Jim Coudal, Jason Fried, and Carlos Segura will lead a presentation and discussion on
Design, Entrepreneurship, and Inspiration
. Click here to find out all about it. Great stuff lined up by top-thinkers and talkers in those areas.

What’s more, it’ll be held in Rem Koolhaas’ thought-provoking student center

on the campus of
Mies van der Rohe’s Illinois Institute of Technology.

So I’ll fly in from Boston for this, to talk with you about Mies’ work at IIT, and Rem’s addition. (I write this from Seattle where I’ve been to Koolhaas’ brilliantly original, profound and moving Seattle Public Library.)

The October date for the SEED Conference is sold out. BUT! the organizers might schedule a second session in November. If you’re not signed up for October, send them an email to to say you want to attend in November.

I recommend you do, because anything Jim Coudal puts together, you and I both want to see.

See you there — do say hello,

10-12 Update! Last I heard, a cancellation opened up a couple seats for the October 29th Seed Conference in Chicago. Grab ’em now.