Seagram Building by Mies Van Der Rohe Term Paper

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Seagram Building by Mies Van Der Rohe

Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe was born in the year 1886 in Aachen, Germany. His father was a stonemason, and the young Mies underwent training under him, after which, at the age of nineteen, he moved on to Berlin. Berlin being a land of numerous opportunities at the time, Mies was able to train under the 'art nouveau' architect and Interior Designer, Bruno Paul. At the age of twenty, Mies van der Rohe was good enough to receive his own first independent commission to build a house for the famous philosopher, Alois Riehl. By the year 1908, Mies started to work for the architect, Peter Behrens, and although he was technically working for this architect, Mies was also studying the architectural styles and ways of the two famous architects of the time, the Prussian Karl Friedrich Schinkel, and Frank Lloyd Wright, and by 1921, Mies was able to open his own studio in Berlin. (Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe, 1886-1969: www.designboom.com)

This was the time of the World War I, and soon after the War, Mies began to get interested in the study of skyscrapers, and he thereafter designed two novel and innovative steel framed towers that would be encased in glass, one of them being the Friedrichstrasse, in 1921, and even though this design was never converted into a real building, it did succeed in drawing a lot of attention to its creator, and it is often said that this design was the predecessor of the skyscraper designs that would follow in later years. In the year 1927, Mies designed the famous 'German Pavilion' that was displayed at the International Exposition held in Barcelona, and this pavilion had a flat roof that would be supported by columns, and the walls, that had been made of glass and marble, could be moved around whenever the need arose, because of the fact that the walls did not support the structure. Mies van der Rohe later explored this type of seamless flow of spaces without boundaries of any kind in his future creations. (Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe, 1886-1969: www.designboom.com)

Mies became iconic of the cool and minimalist, 'less is more' internationally acclaimed style during the first half of the twentieth century, when his contemporaries were the famous Le Corbusier and Walter Gropius. It was in 1927 that the design and the patent for his cantilevered chair 'MR 20' was created, and this single event managed to shoot Mies into the limelight. (Mies Van der Rohe: www.r20thcentury.com) It is often said that the modern cityscape is partly owed to the minimalist designs of Mies van der Rohe, with the numerous towers made up of glass and steel. In a similar manner, Mies van Der Rohe's chair designs are exceptional in their sense of proportion, and in their minimalist forms, and also in their exquisite attention to detail. (Designer: Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe)

The Seagram Building is essentially a logical and an elegant skyscraper designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and is an imposing structure made of steel and glass. It has alternating bands of bronze plating, and them bronze tinted glass, and these are interspersed with extremely decorative I Beams, which serve to lay emphasis on the building's verticality. Being placed as it is in the rear of its site, and to the back of Park Avenue, it has, incorporated within its basic design, a large Plaza, which has served the practically useful purpose of avoiding setbacks in the future. The lobby of the Seagram Building is about two floors, and is encased in sheets of glass, and the entire structure is supported by two granite pillars at its base. (New York City, New York: www.bluffton.edu/) The important fact is that the architect Mies van der Rohe utilized decorative bronze beams in order to emphasize the height and the verticality of this imposing 38-story skyscraper. (The Seagram Building: architecture.about.com)

Most people feel that the Seagram Building not only is an inescapable fact of the New York City skyline, but is also dramatic in its structure and design. In a city where every other building is in fact a skyscraper, the Seagram Building is, with its exquisite design made of unbroken planes of soot glass and bronze, one of the most beautiful sights to behold. It is juxtaposed to a level with a granite paved plaza locate below, and this in itself gives it a certain amount of predominance. In addition, the Seagram Building has been sited on Park Avenue, and this makes it an indulgence in open space, which was hitherto unprecedented as far as Manhattan real estate is concerned. This makes the Seagram Building something special, in an area where it can dominate with its special beauty and design, on other buildings located near it. The Seagram Building, being predominantly commercial, has made the commercial building complexes of the time endowed with a sort of monumentality that was never before experienced in any commercial building until then. (The Seagram Building: www.greatbuildings.com)

To further make things better, the bronze and the glass interspersed with bronze I columns and also the use of mullions and spandrels with the bronze tinted glass has combined to make the surface of the Seagram Building literally ripple with muted colors. Mies van der Rode has even taken careful not of the placement of the Seagram Building in relation with other buildings on the same site, and one notices at once that this particular building has been positioned in such a way that on the site, and form the rear, with its additive forms, the Seagram Building is literally tide in with the other buildings and other adjacent structures, in such a way that a frontal oriented composition is created, and the Seagram no longer stands isolated; rather, it addresses itself to the entire context of the city where it has been built. In fact, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe has himself stated that since a skyscraper must be able to reveal its bold and its structural plan during its construction, it is imperative that the gigantic steel web that it is made up of be impressive and remarkable.

Mies also stated that when the outer walls are being put into place, then a morass of meaningless and trivial forms would inadvertently hide the very basic structural system, on which the artistic design is generally based. When it is glass that is placed in place of the old and traditional wall, then this means that the creator has taken into consideration the fact that from old problems and old forms can arise new forms, and when glass, which cannot hide anything at all because of its basic nature of transparency, is used instead of a wall, the result is not only a new solution, but also a beautiful new means of construction. In addition, the structural principles on which the building is based would also be revealed very clearly when glass is used instead of a wall, and today, this is very much a possibility, because in today's structures, in a skeleton building like the Seagram building, for example, the outer walls would not have to carry weight. Therefore, glass would provide the architect to new solutions to old problems, and also lead to the development of new concepts hitherto unthought-of. (The Seagram Building: www.greatbuildings.com)

The Seagram building is in fact, the one and only building in New York that was designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and this is one building that exemplifies and demonstrates to everyone the numerous and varied ideals of the Modernist Movement, in such a way that it outshines all the other buildings in the vicinity. In fact, it can even be said that the modernist Movement is not exhibited very well by any other building to the extent that the Seagram building does. The story goes that the owner of the Seagram Building, Samuel Bronfman, wanted a building for his massive distillery operations, and his daughter, an architect herself, named Phyllis Lambert, managed to persuade her father to commission Mies van der Rohe for the building of this proposed skyscraper that would outrival and outshine all others. Although the Seagram is essentially a classical building, it has a cubic structure, which is further accentuated by the bronze extruded I beams that are imposed on the sheet or the curtain of tinted glass. The entire structure sits squarely on an entire series of two storied bronze columns, and all this is surrounded by a twenty-eight feet high arcade. (Daniel's Manhattan Architecture)

Mies van der Rohe managed to achieve one important fact at this time, after he built the Seagram successfully, with plenty of enclosed place surrounding the structure. This was the passing of a subsequent 1961 zoning regulation that stated that there must be an increase of space all around tall buildings and skyscrapers, and this would be able to end full-site setback towers forever. In addition, Mies van der Rohe managed to…[continue]

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