Archive for ‘Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’

March 8, 2011

IBM Building | Mies van der Rohe

ibm9 © Jeffery Howe

ibm1 © Bluffton University

ibm3 © Bluffton University

ibm4 © Bluffton University

ibm7 © Bluffton University

ibm8 © J. Crocker

ibm6 © Bluffton University

ibm5 © Bluffton University

ibm2 © Bluffton University

Completed four years after architect Mies van der Rohe‘s passing, the  became one of the cities most prestigious addresses. A pure symbol of the architecture of the time, the almost 700 foot tall rectangle sits on a raised plinth that helps it to maintain a uniform height given the unevenness of the site; State Street to the structure’s west inclines steeply.

As architecture, the , along with many others designed by Mies van der Rohe, becomes synonymous with corporate power. Black anodized aluminum and gray-tinted glass are used together to create a uniform skin that gives the appearance of a single imposing and impressive volume. It’s strength and clarity of form are distinguishable and appreciated along the skyline, a tribute to the lifelong study of structural expression, organizational scale, material simplicity, proportion, and constructive detail.

Positioned on a riverside site, the  is open to views of the lake, and is very striking to passerby crossing over the river. It marks one of the last American buildings done by Mies van der Rohe, and also the tallest of all his buildings at 670 feet. His participation in it’s construction was comprable to that of an  observer, as he was growing older and even passed away a year before the completion of the structure.

In it’s initial context, the  dominated it’s surroundings, including the lower Sun-Times building to the east. This building was torn down and instead sits an under-construction behemoth of Donald Trump, standing 1,100 feet tall which may arguably block many of the views from the .

Recent news about the building has been centered around the conversion of the office building into residential rentals as IBM left for other quarters. This left the building with a new name, 330 North Wabash, and new intentions as a downtown building in . Currently 36% of the building’s space is not in use, and within a few years another 16 floors will empty as a result of the anticipated move of law firm Jenner and Block.

The current plan is to convert floors 3 through 14 into about 275 condos, and continue on with the conversion as more floors become vacant. Although sales prices are around half of those for the high-end Trump units that are right next door, the fact that the IBM is now blocked in by taller structures along the east and west facades may make it more difficult to sell.

Although as it once was, the  has not yet been declared an official landmark, meaning that there still is not legal protection against dramatic or destructive alterations.

Location: , Illinois
Project Year: 1971-1973
References: Werner BlaserJean-Louis Cohen
Photographs: Bluffton UniversityJ. CrockerJeffery Howe