Crown Hall, IIT – Mies’ 1956 masterpiece is even better in the metal.


  1. I remember the building in the metal well. It was over 8 years ago and went there daily as my dad used to teach there. He was a friend and student of Mies. My visit from the uk was only a month. But while I was at the IIT the building was always full of life with students displaying their work. It was a pleasure to be there.

    • It is a great building, no doubt, and so elegant. And a pretty good campus, too, in a city that has so much fascinating architecture to see. How fantastic that your father knew Mies – I’d love to hear some stories! Did your father work on the buildings at IIT as well? Was he teaching an architecture component?

      • i cant remember any exact stories but found this writing. He always referred to Mies when talking to his students. He had a huge impact on my dads life. My dad said that he was an extremely kind person.

        IIT professor Peter Roesch, another Mies student, tells essentially the same story, but with a very different punchline. “Mies looked at my work for, I think, twenty minutes. The good news was that he didn’t walk away. The bad news was that I didn’t know what he didn’t like. He did not say one word for twenty minutes. It forced me to look at my own work, and I found all the mistakes. Everything. After twenty minutes of silence, I said, ‘Mies could you come back tomorrow? I’ll fix it all up.’ And he laughed, and he puffed his cigar, and he left.”

        I dont think he had any thing to do with the design of the building. He must have been in his early 20s when it was completed.
        My dad did do the Harris bank. Which was kind of similar. I think it was a kind of tribute to Mies . Unfortunately , atferwards, I think, they added an extension to it.

        My dad used to do projects with his students.

      • Thanks, Stefan, great story. And what a wonderful obituary. I love the comment about learning but not copying. I have spoken to many architects and always a theme comes through, that when they are working for a true master they learn so much just from the simple presence of that person. I’ve heard it said of Sert, Kenzo Tange, Jorn Utzon – that they would simply look at the work and the student would see instantly the mistakes in it. Charismatic, indeed, but wow, it would have wonderful to witness Mies at work… What a great thing to have had in your family.

      • get back to you soon. a lot on my plate at the minute😄

      • My daughter researched that expression. Found a definition. Probably post today

      • ok it looks like you get direct emails too–wordpress i used that once. good to know

      • memorial is on the7 nov. chicago if you can make it. or send a message to biba roesch if you want. my post coming😄. jusy trying to sort the links out on text edit

      • Hi Colin
        Interesting your experience with other Architects that could teach just by their presence.
        Coincidently shortly after your comment my daughter sent me a link on face book about how a wild animals presence can communicate with you.

        I mentioned the expression I remembered from school– Silence is golden
        she researched it and replied
        Yes it’s a phrase……’Silence is the element in which great things fashion themselves together; that at length they may emerge, full-formed and majestic, into the daylight of Life, which they are thenceforth to rule……Speech is of Time, Silence is of Eternity’- Said by a German philosopher I think.

        Mies said, “Let this building be the home of ideas and adventure . . . and in the end a real contribution to our civilization.”
        My dad regularly took his students to view other pieces of architecture-
        We went to
        Racine building , johnson wax
        my dad told me the story that they had to show the building inspectors that the columns were safe. They insisted that there is no way those columns would hold.
        I would not like to go up that ladder and arrange those boulders!

        We went to Milwalkee Art museum
        We also went to see
        again the inspectors interfered. It had to be turned into a laboritory

        site . The students went to view his house that was on the way back to Chicago- The town was called Twin lakes , Wisconsin
        I told him I thought it was his masterpiece.
        Biba took me up on it why I do not mention his work. I already told him my views. I said. It is his Masterpiece. My dad said I was just like Ludi (Michael) my sister . She only says things once. I guess we are minimalists as well
        As usual his wife Biba put a great spread out for the students. and we all had a good time.
        It was a pretty action packet month for me. but enjoyed every minute! Must make a web page when I find the photos and movies on the appropriate hard drive.
        He certainly played an active role for the students.
        Mies said, “Let this building be the home of ideas and adventure .
        For his time there as professor, 35 years I believe, he kept Mieses vision going strong. And kept Crown Hall as a home for the students

        see if the links turn out. othewise to plan b . maybe text edit has a hickup? always something. ok the screen shot did not appear

      • Thank you, what a fantastic set of links – you really should get all this down in a proper post. I have never visited the Johnson factory but it becomes more and more amazing the more one looks at it. I’ve never seen that extraordinary way of proving he strength of the columns, either. Very amused that your misian father brought up minimalist sons, at least verbally. I think that might be a northern European thing – my Scottish father was the same.

      • you mean the lab building with what they call the column- tap root. it is kind of a glorified tree house. i already started experimenting. i live 2 hours north of berlin. if you are ever in the area please call in. i have friends in Berlin where you can stay as well. My dad went all over europe with his students. cities mainly. He said Berlin architecturally is a mess. I sure he meant how the structures interact with each other . So be warned.
        I studied in Edinburgh for 4 years. I got a bit of a shock when I could not understand what the lecturer was trying to say. I soon got the hang of it. A good time there.
        Summer hill school was founded by a Scot son of a headmaster. Amazing idea. I will send link in next post incase someting crashes

      • You live in a tree house? Sounds intriguing!

      • surprised only half a million views.
        well worth watching

      • glad you liked the summerhill phylosophy. It connects with Crown Hall too. Post coming soon.

      • Howdy!

        We ran into a problem with your recent comment reply by email. Specifically, we weren’t able to find your comment in the email.

        We’ll do our best to get this fixed up. In the meantime, you may want to comment directly on the post:


      • Tuesday, November 6th
        5:00PM to 7:30PM
        Add to calendar
        Cliff Dwellers Club
        200 S. Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL, 60604, #2200 United States
        Get directions
        Biba Roesch
        (773) 793-8885

        paperless mail not always easy


      • Good luck with the celebration. If I wasn’t 14000 kms away I’d be there!

      • Unfortunely I am too far away aswell

  2. ok links have appeared. so i can go forward without worries

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