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Mies’ Architecture in Downtown Chicago: Foto Friday

By Amanda on June 13, 2014


Architect Mies van der Rohe designed modernist architecture in downtown Chicago, and on our tours we love telling people about how he revolutionized the shape of our buildings. People often default to finding these black box buildings to be boring, but the beauty of modernism lies in its simplicity. While IIT Campus is known as the mecca for modernist art, downtown Chicago has modernist architecture as well. We explore the Miesian impact on downtown architecture on the Architecture Walking Tour for Design Lovers.

mies van der rohe chicago architecture
Photo Credit: Amanda Scotese

I was walking down Michigan Avenue yesterday, admiring as usual all the architecture in downtown Chicago. I¬†looked up to see a beautiful summer blue sky and the famous Miesian corner, which cuts into where a structural support column should be, making it seem like it isn’t there at all. If we want to get real geeky about it, this one isn’t really a Miesian corner because 1) the architect for this building actually ended up being Fujikawa, Conterato, and Lohan architecture firms while the master plan for the multiple buildings was by Mies and 2) it’s in visibly separate pieces.

This picture conveys the serene quality of looking at a well-balanced pattern. Sure, just like modernist art, people could say, “I could do that!” But actually a lot of complexity goes into making these lines appear to our eyes as clean, straight, and balanced.

— Amanda Scotese, Executive Director



Chicago Detours offers guided walking and bus tours of architecture, history and culture to public and private groups. We are a passionate team of educators, historians, artists and storytellers, and are proud to be one of very few tour companies in Chicago that is rated five stars on both Google and TripAdvisor.


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