Mies Library Proposals


Has anyone taken a look at these?

MLK Library Proposals

Wow.  Could there be anything more inappropriate?  Would it be better to just burn the thing rather than ruin it?  Isn't it a shame that Mies van der Rohe apparently didn't know anything about architecture?  It looks like they plan to take a genuine thing, gut it, and then turn it into an ersatz pastiche imitation ... of itself? 

Sorry for the cynicism.  As if there isn't enough of that already.  But really - these look like student projects. 

Feb 10, 14 2:24 pm

Rumor is that Mecanoo won it.

Krueck & Sexton's is, of course, respectful.

Feb 18, 14 9:52 am

Mecanoo proposes to use "glass with a marble (Miesian) pattern".

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHahahahahahaha  oh wait, did they say that sincerely?  Um, I don't think the word "Miesian" means what they think it means....

Feb 18, 14 10:04 am
won and done williams

First, I don't think the designs are that bad. What did you want? A Mies imitation?

Second, what is up with the client  offering a sham program to "test the ability" of the architects? If you don't know the ability of the architects, why did you select them to compete? In my view, the competition was disrespectful to the architects. Conversely architecture is the only profession I can think of where the architect performs such a substantial amount of work at the whim of a client for no material gain. Why do we prostitute ourselves to win these types of projects?

Feb 18, 14 10:16 am

i don't think that cloud thing from krueck & sexton would have been successful.  it looks far too much like something a person might render, and not enough like something a person might build.

wow, those mecanoo drawings are awful.  is that what architectural representation looked like before talented people got into the field?  there isn't any information in them.  just a bunch of really stupid looking people, often missing heads.  a black ceiling in image 3?  is that because they're proposing a black ceiling, or does it just look that way because they suck really bad?  the cut-away section is kind of alright, except all it says is that a significant amount of space is going to be used for non-rated vertical circulation in the middle of the building.  it's just not a good space.  and with all the shitty entourage and wine glasses in the library, you might think they would stick a book in there?

maybe this will be your next architect outrage.

Feb 18, 14 10:24 am

won, did the architects not get paid for this work? I imagine they did but I don't know.

Feb 18, 14 10:34 am

<Outrage engaged.>

Mecanoo wins it, officially. This is the main thing that bothers me:

"Their (Mecanoo's)  concept calls for replacing many interior brick walls with glass."

Mies was a master of managing transparency and opacity.  Turning the mass into transparency is an enormous change in a Mies design.  Then patterning the glass to look like marble is an affront to Modernism.

<Outrage disengaged.>

Otherwise, it doesn't look terrible.  I do love that section drawing. I hope they don't paint the ceiling black. I wish Krueck & Sexton had won, though.

Feb 18, 14 10:42 am
won and done williams

I don't know, Donna. Perhaps they did; I assumed the worst.

Feb 18, 14 10:47 am

Mecanoo's drawings are the only interesting representations. Curtkam, I can't believe you think they are awful - next to the absolutely lifeless 'realistic' render schlock, their drawings are almost amazing, and certainly wonderful.
The actual projects all seem to be fairly similar and conservative - my guess is this has to do with the brief.
The Patkau&Krueck&Sexton scheme is so timid and safe, it makes me wonder why they even bothered. Half of their unimaginative renders look like someone just took a photo in the Mies building, then photoshopped some Mies furniture in. I had to go through the documentation on the architect mag website to see if anyone on that team did any design work. Donna, I can't believe you'd rather them get the job - I heard somewhere that all those good intentions have a tendency to pave some mean roads.

Mecanoo+Mies=potential for some exciting things, a la Rem's student center at IIT, though I do have to admit that it's a dumb idea to take a bunch of solid elements out of a perfectly balanced figure/ground plan (mass/void space),  and replace them with simulacral crutches.

Feb 18, 14 12:13 pm

Patkau is an amazing architect, and K&S did the Crown Hall revamp as well as lots of really, truly elegant Modernism in Chicago.  They are, in my mind, the most luxuriously restrained Modernists working today.  Patkau hasn't enjoyed half the recognition he/they should have, IMO - their work is so subdued and so intelligent.

Part of the issue with the library is it has been cluttered up with other "renovation" work over the years, so making it look like it did originally isn't just tossing in furniture, it's doing actual remediation of previous projects. K&S are uniquely qualified for that after their work on Crown Hall.

And come on: it's a Mies van der Rohe building.  How many are still in existence?  This is the work of an unrivaled master in our field - I think a safe and respectful approach is warranted.

Feb 18, 14 1:30 pm

Agreed. The proposals range from bad to worse. All expressions of ego, very little sensitivity to the existing building. 

Feb 18, 14 1:40 pm

"Mecanoo's drawings are the only interesting representations. Curtkam, I can't believe you think they are awful - next to the absolutely lifeless 'realistic' render schlock, their drawings are almost amazing, and certainly wonderful."

Boy, I really disagree. I appreciate the cute 1960s illustration style - obviously mean to pair with the age of the original building - but there's nothing architectural about those drawings. they are cartoons. one couldn't even call them sketches. In my opinion the style is WAY more occlusive than helpful in reading the spatial character in each image.

Mecanoo was sending a message with those drawings - 'we want to evoke and reference as much of Mies as possible in our renovation."

Is that a praiseworthy strategy? I think their addition will really overshadow Mies' building. I vote for Patkau's more reticent scheme.

Feb 18, 14 2:03 pm

all of these renderings are fantasies, whether treated as realistic or cartoonish. so mecanoo's being a little less informational.... eh.

i trust the information i can glean from the models a little better. 

i like the mecanoo scheme, but then liked some others, too. i'll celebrate the selection of mecanoo primarily because i've been to several of their past projects and - without exception - loved them. they've got a clean palette and sensitivity to detail that i really dig. 

Feb 19, 14 2:11 pm

Notice the black and white scale figures... is this intentional? I think it's ironic, considering the name of the Library :) LOL

Feb 19, 14 4:32 pm

Steven, does their sensitivity to detail encompass sensitivity to Mies' detail?  Do you think they will respect the original fabric sufficiently, for you, and/or for others?

Feb 20, 14 8:11 am

does anybody know an online source for plans, sections, etc. of the current building that the competition entries started from?

I like what it does for the section and roof top space, but curious how the patkau et al scheme planned to add another level to the existing façade that matches perfectly...?

Feb 20, 14 7:27 pm

actually, no, probably not, donna. 'respect' isn't typically a strength - or a priority - of dutch work. (not without exception...) mecanoo tend to be more cheeky. 

i don't know how to feel about that. i like the idea of respecting mies' work. but i also recognize that some of the late period mies that i've actually visited is SO cool and aloof that it could have something to do with why a lot of the public hasn't liked the MLK over the past few decades. mecanoo will bring an element of fun that's probably sorely lacking.

some will be upset... 

Feb 21, 14 9:08 am
won and done williams

If you look closely at the Mecanoo renderings and can get past the cheeky rendering style, there is really very little there that could be considered contrary to a Miesian design aesthetic; it's all orthogonal/geometric glass, steel, stone, and wood, structurally and materially honest. Clearly it's hard to get a great understanding of the proposal from a handful of renderings, but I don't think there is any reason to believe from these renderings that they are going to flip the bird to the original building.

The Dutch love Mies! Look at what Rem did at IIT. While it may not have been exactly what Mies would do, it was certainly thoughtful and respectful of its context.

Feb 21, 14 9:54 am
won and done williams

And while I like, but not love Mecanoo, they do generally handle detailing better than OMA.

Feb 21, 14 9:57 am

What about the notion of Historic Preservation?  How is this addressed by any of these proposals?  I can't imagine that any significant building by Mies shouldn't be considered a historic structure worthy of considered preservation / restoration.  How many are there in existence?

Imagine that any of these proposal were put forth in a similar situation for the US Capitol.  I saw that they're undertaking a preservation of the dome right now.  Imagine the outrage if they were to PROPOSE gutting the dome and putting any of these types of "enhancements" to the roof of the Capitol.  

One might argue that such an addition to the Capitol wouldn't be "Stylistically Appropriate" - but then accretions glommed on to the top of one of Mies's buildings isn't really appropriate stylistically either.  I would say they should  restore the building and reprogram the original spaces.  Certain things aren't meant for redevelopment and adaptive reuse.  While they're at it,maybe they should scoot over to the National Gallery and un-stretch the canvases and glue them up as wallpaper? 

It's a real shame.  Maybe Less isn't always More... but in most cases More Isn't More either. 

Feb 21, 14 11:11 am

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