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Mies van der Rohe: Celebrated at MoMA, Destroyed in Chicago

Mies van der Rohe’s Test Cell building at Illinois Institute of Technology
Photo by Edward Lifson

A minor work of Mies van der Rohe, who is being celebrated in the Museum of Modern Art’s current Bauhaus show, is being demolished in Chicago, a city very closely tied to his architecture.

For months, my blogging buddy, Ed Lifson, has been waging a relentless but futile campaign to save the’ so-called Test Cell building—a modest cube that is part of the Mies-designed Illinois Institute of Technology. It is being knocked down to make way for a new train station. Blair Kamin, the architecture critic for the Chicago Tribune, calls Test Cell a “clunky brick box.” Lifson counter that it offers “a quiet message of doing much with little.”

This week, Ed reports, it is being destroyed:

And so it will happen. This week powers that be in Chicago will
demolish a little work by Mies van der Rohe. A small part of his
extraordinarily important campus for the Illinois Institute of
Technology will bite the dust….Tearing this down is like destroying forever a minor work by Mozart.

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