After 1963, a Second Chicago School emerged from the work of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago. The ideas of structural engineer Fazlur Khan were also influential in this movement, in particular his introduction of a new structural system of framed tubes in skyscraper design and construction.
Mies pursued a mission to create a new architectural language that could be used to represent the new era of technology and production. He applied a disciplined design process using rational thought to achieve his spiritual goals. He believed that the configuration and arrangement of every architectural element, particularly including the character of enclosed space, must contribute to a unified expression. Every aspect of his architecture, from overall concept to the smallest detail, supports his effort to express the modern age. Mies significant projects in the Chicago area include:
860–880 and 900-910 Lake Shore Drive
Four high-rise apartment buildings on Chicago's Lakefront. With façades of steel and glass, they were radical departures from the typical residential brick apartment buildings of the time. The lobby is set back from the perimeter columns, which were exposed around the perimeter of the building above, creating a modern arcade not unlike those of the Greek temples. This configuration created a feeling of light, openness, and freedom of movement at the ground level that became the prototype for countless new towers designed both by Mies's office and his followers.
Chicago Federal Center
Mies' office designed a number of modern high-rise office towers, notably the Chicago Federal Center, which includes the Dirksen and Kluczynski Federal Buildings and Post Office (1959). Each project applies the prototype rectangular form on stilts and ever-more refined enclosure wall systems, but each creates a unique set of exterior spaces that are an essential aspect of his creative efforts. Alexander Calder’s large sculpture Flamingo dominates the plaza. The exterior curtain walls are defined by projecting steel I-beam mullions covered with flat-black graphite paint. The balance of the curtain walls are of bronze-tinted glass panes, framed in shiny aluminum, and separated by steel spandrels, also covered with flat-black graphite paint.
Widely regarded as Mies van der Rohe's masterpiece, Crown Hall, completed in 1956, is one of the most architecturally significant buildings of the 20th century Modernist movement, and the start to the International Style of building, in which Mies refined the basic steel and glass construction style, beautifully capturing simplicity and openness.
The 52 storey building exemplifies characteristics of Mies’ best work: harmonious proportions, elegant materials and the expression of the buildings underlyinmg form through steel and glass. With black anodized aluminum to gray-tinted glass, Mies and his colleagues crafted a uniform skin that lends the building an air of a single imposing and impressive volume. It exerts its presence in Chicago's distinguished skyline through strength and clarity of form—the culmination of a meticulous lifelong study in structural expression, material simplicity, proportion, constructive detail, and organizational scale.