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A Mies van der Rohe Masterpiece Inspired This Office Complex

Now revered as a highly influential early modernist and developer of the International Style, one-time Bauhaus director Ludwig Mies van der Rohe got his big break with his design for the German Pavilion at the 1929 World's Fair, held in Barcelona, which also saw the debut of his famous Barcelona couch. Known today as the Barcelona Pavilion, it was demolished a year later, as it was only intended to be a temporary exhibition of Mies' design ethos, but its legacy was such that in the '80s, an exact replica was built on the same site. Now, the Barcelona Pavilion redux has been joined by a somewhat unlikely tribute, in the faux-marble facade of a sprawling office complex in Zürich.

In creating a new Swiss HQ for financial services company Allianz, Dutch design firm Wiel Arets Architects had to conform to planning guidelines stipulating that all new buildings in the area must have natural stone cladding. Bending the rules somewhat, Wiel Arets took an abstracted pattern from the onyx marble surfaces of Mies' masterpiece, and recreated it by fritting the glass facade of the Allianz HQ with composite layers of black and white dots. According to a project description, this allowed "the building to blend into its context while simultaneously maintaining its distinguished stance."

Pretty cool, huh? Well, the fact that they were able to recreate it isn't even the best part. As project architect Felix Thies explained to Dezeen, the black-and-white rasterized patterns that make up each section will "appear ever-changing, in accordance with the angle of the sun, [just like Rorschach's mask in Watchmen, which is totally awesome]." In all the ways for Mies to live on, this one is pretty novel. Not that he needed a champion, really; his body of work remains as memorable as ever, and though some worry that Norman Foster's new NYC tower will somehow diminish Mies' Seagram building, even his co-ops in Detroit's once-languishing Lafayette Park community are starting to sell for more. Anyway, it's not often you see a 20-story tower with such a fresh facade, especially one with a starchitecture connection.

· Allianz Headquarters by Wiel Arets features glass fritted to reference Mies' Barcelona Pavilion [Dezeen]
· All Mies van der Rohe coverage [Curbed National]