Mies van der Rohe: Space – Material – Detail

Ever since the reconstruction of the Barcelona Pavilion (1983–86) and the major Mies retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in Berlin and New York (2001–02), the number of publications considering Mies reception has been steadily growing. Birkhäuser’s “Mies van der Rohe | Space – Material – Detail” now adds to the pile with the first book overwhelmingly dedicated to the technical and constructive aspects of Mies’ structures. It contains new drawings of 14 key works from the master’s oeuvre – focusing on the detailing and materials. Author Edgar Stach is an architect and currently a professor at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. He has also taught at the Bauhaus University Weimar and Delft University of Technology, and specialises in design and building technologies.

The central question addressed in the book is how Mies’ architectural convictions and ideals are reflected in his built – and unbuilt – works. An opening essay provides an introduction to Mies’ biography, the architectural context, and his understanding of architecture and construction, before engaging in discussion of his three preferred materials – brick, steel, and glass. The 14 buildings explored in the book cover several decades of Mies’ professional life and thus include both his German and American creative phases – beginning with Haus Ester and Haus Lange (1927–30) in Krefeld before continuing with structures such as Villa Tugendhat (1928–30) in Brno, the Barcelona Pavilion (1928–29), Farnsworth House (1946–51), Lake Shore Drive (1948–51), and the New National Gallery (1962–68). The author illuminates underlying aspects such as the buildings’ placement in their historical and topographical environments before going on to analyse layouts, construction methods, and materials.

The drawings, which form the main part of the book together with a large number of photographs, are not limited to two-dimensional representations of the buildings; instead, readers will discover a wealth of lifelike depictions – exploded views revealing spatial layouts and structural design, isometric projections of façade sections and key details, and three-dimensional details of wall and floor structures, of corner solutions, of masonry connections and brick patterns in the Krefeld buildings, construction detail sections of boundary beams and cross supports in the New National Gallery, or corner design in the Bacardi Building.

“Mies van der Rohe | Space – Material – Detail” from Birkhäuser is the first book to explore in detail the work of one of the 20th century’s most important architects from the perspective of building design.