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Article last edited by Lacuna on
September 17th, 2012
Crown Hall Change this
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S. R. Crown Hall, designed by the German-born Modernist architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, is the home of the College of Architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, Illinois.
Widely regarded as Mies van Der Rohe's masterpiece, Crown Hall is one of the most architecturally significant buildings of the 20th Century Modernist movement.Crown Hall is so architecturally significant because Mies Van Der Rohe took the basic steel and glass construction style and refined it. Crown hall is the most beautiful example of steel and glass construction. During the 1950’s when most architects were using steel and glass construction, Mies van Der Rohe was able to make his work stand out by being capturing the buildings simplicity and openness. Crown Hall was completed in 1956 during Mies van der Rohe's tenure as director of IIT's Department of Architecture.
Centrally located on the campus of the Illinois Institute of Technology, two miles south of downtown Chicago, Illinois, the building houses the architecture school. The two level building is configured as a pure rectangular form, 220' by 120' by 24 feet high, enclosing a column free interior space on the upper level sitting above a sunken lower level. Four steel plate girders welded to eight H-columns form the primary structure from which the roof has been suspended, This design was derived from a drive in restaurant Van Der Rohe had recently built, the Cantor Drive-In Restaurant that was constructed in 1945.
Crown Hall is characterized by an aesthetic of industrial simplicity, with clearly articulated exposed steel frame construction. The steel frame is infilled with large sheets of glass of varying qualities of transparency, resulting in a light and delicate steel and glass facade wrapping the open plan, free flowing interior of the upper level. While the lower level consists of compartmentalized rooms, the high upper floor level, occupying almost 50% of the total area of the building, is dedicated to a single glass-enclosed architecture studio space. Mies called it a "universal space", intended to be entirely flexible in use.
Upon its opening, Mies van der Rohe declared it "the clearest structure we have done, the best to express our philosophy". One critic calls it the Parthenon of the 20th Century.