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Mies Makes a Case for Preserving Glass-and-Steel Boxes

T

he maxim "less is more" has become synonymous with Mies van der Rohe's design approach, shorthand for the power of focusing on the pertinent details and the experience within a space. But for those tasked with repairing and restoring the architectural icon's masterpieces, the phrase could easily refer to the amount of work they need to perform to bring modernist buildings back to their former glory. A cynic may question the true challenge of restoring a steel-and-glass box; it's a relatively new structure, so it's not like restoration experts are being asked to repair 19th century masonry or recreate fixtures and flourishes from past centuries. But when "God is in the details," re-creating and repairing requires attention to minute measurements and solving extreme sourcing challenges. After talking with restoration experts who worked on restorations of two Mies buildings, S. R. Crown Hall on the IIT campus and the Kluczynski Federal Building in Chicago's Loop, it's clear that protecting his work offers its own unique issues, some that may result in economic challenges to maintain perfectly faithful facades.

How the experts approach the restoration of a Mies building. >>