Vectorworks has teamed up with the Fundacío Mies van der Rohe to give architecture, urban planning, and landscape design students across Europe an opportunity to gain recognition for creating remarkable experiences. As an extension of the European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture, the Young Talent Architecture Award (YTAA) is open to European higher education institutions, which must register and nominate their student’s best capstone projects from the 2015-2016 academic year by July 29, 2016 to qualify.
As a company, we take inspiration from visionaries like Mies, who challenged traditional notions of design and left a visible mark on city skylines around the world. That’s why we’re excited to take part in this new program!
The Story Behind the Iconic Architect
To fully benefit from all the knowledge to be gleaned from Mies’ legacy, let’s first take you through the story of his successes and his fundamental views on design.
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe was born in 1886 in Aachen, the westernmost city in Germany. Though he began his professional life as an apprentice bricklayer, his extraordinary drawing talent earned him recommendations for a number of architecture offices. Early in his career, he worked under esteemed architects John Martens and Bruno Paul in Berlin. At 21-years-old, he designed his first house, the Riehl House, before joining the Berlin-based firm of architect Peter Behrens in 1908. Mies refined his style over the next several decades, eschewing austere, enclosed designs of the time for minimalist designs with large, open spaces.
Fundamental to Mies’ design philosophy, and one of the driving forces behind his iconic use of glass, was the concept of fluid space. He believed that architecture should embody a continuous flow of space, blurring the lines between interior and exterior. The use of glass was essential in making this philosophy a physical reality. In one his most popular buildings, the German Pavilion at the 1929 International Exposition at Barcelona (better known as the Barcelona Pavilion), movable glass and marble partitions created a flexible space that is independent of the structure itself. The building was disassembled in 1930 following the Exposition though architects banded together 50 years later to rebuild the pavilion on its original site.
After struggling to find work in a radically changing Germany, Mies immigrated to Chicago in 1937, where he was appointed director of the architecture program at the Illinois Institute of Technology. To this day, the Institute is marked by Mies’ signature style; buildings like the Minerals and Metals Building and the Alumni Hall bear large glass windows and stark steel framing, the trademarks of a Mies-designed structure.
While in America, Mies developed a modernist design style called the Second Chicago School of Architecture, which consisted primarily of high-rise buildings using steel, glass, and open spaces to create minimalistic, functional buildings. Many buildings today owe a debt to Mies’ vision; from ribbon windows to glass and metal skyscrapers, Mies’ influence is salient in many cities, including New York City’s towering Seagram Building on Park Avenue and the Farnsworth House, an almost entirely transparent, one-story house in Illinois reminiscent of the demolished Barcelona Pavilion.
Inspired? Get Involved
In Mies’ view, a building should be “a clear and true statement of its times.” While times have changed since Mies made that remark, the next iconic architect who will help shape the industry could be among today’s architecture, urban planning, and landscape design students. If you’re a student, make sure you ask your professor to register your school for the YTAA, which provides students opportunities to build their careers and earn a cash prize. Learn more about the award.
And know that at Vectorworks, we keep visionaries like Mies in mind while developing software to ensure we provide designers with an intuitive solution for comprehensive architectural expression. Learn more about how designers are realizing their visions with Vectorworks software on our Case Studies page.