Learning From Mies
Peter Carter (Peter Carter Architect)


Walter Peterhans, Peter Carter & Mies van der Rohe, Crown Hall, June 1958

©Conrad Roland

In the autumn of 1957, Mies van der Rohe agreed to teach one final Masters Degree course at I.I.T. He was then 71 and anticipating the completion of his Seagram Building the following year. Mies had initially accepted the invitation to establish his American school of architecture at Armour Institute in Chicago in 1938. And when Armour joined forces with Louis Institute two years later to form Illinois Institute of Technology, Henry Heald, its president, appointed Mies as Director of the College of Architecture and commissioned him to prepare a master plan for the new campus, and design its buildings.


Crown Hall. Exterior

©Peter Carter

One of these buildings, the classically impressive Crown Hall of 1955, had been conceived by Mies specifically for his College of Architecture. Its controversial concept of accommodating up to 300 students in one great column-free space 120 feet wide by 220 feet long reflected the unique nature of his curriculum, for the effective realisation of which he clearly wanted to get well away from individual studios for each study-year. Indeed, once his students had settled into the building's spacious, flexible, and informally friendly environment, they quickly became aware of their methodical progress through a logically structured curriculum.

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