Mies at IIT: "Greenhouses"

Crown Hall at Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT).  South face.  Photo ©Anthony Denzer

Crown Hall at Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT).  South face.  Photo ©Anthony Denzer

I have argued "The history of glass architecture is the history of overheating."1  Here's more evidence.  Serge Chermayeff is discussing Mies van der Rohe in a 1985 interview with Betty Blum2:

The buildings that he did for IIT were impossible in the summer.  He made them all glass, as usual, or a steel frame and practically all the glass was covered with aluminum paper by the users because it was impossible to work in them, too hot, greenhouses.

What would you have changed to make it more habitable?

It had to be a different kind of building and not the standard Miesian framed glass, it was impossible, absolutely impossible.  You can really say that all this kind of development, which we now look upon as history, at the time it was measured by use.  They are not photographs, they're not lovely drawings, they're places people use.  As places some of them are awful.  His later museum the National Gallery in Berlin was quite different, the mistakes were eliminated.  It was a great pavilion.

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Also on the blog:
Heating of Mies van der Rohe's IIT Chapel  (and note, the Chapel has no south-facing glass)
The Conservatory Effect

1. "In Service," Technology|Architecture+Design (2017).  Also, in The Solar House I show that many early solar houses overheated because proper shading was poorly understood.
2. Oral history of Serge Chermayeff; interviewed by Betty J. Blum, Art Institute of Chicago, 1985.