"The appointment of Mies van der Rohe is in line with the current expansion program of the institute and is one of the first important steps in making the architectural department of Armour one of the foremost in the United States." When the Chicago Tribune covered Mies van der Rohe's appointment at the Armour Institute in the fall of 1938, which would later be merged with the Lewis Institute in 1940 to create the Illinois Institute of Technology, the Bauhaus figurehead's reputation preceded him. Van der Rohe was brought in to reshape architectural curriculum, but his appointment also came with the opportunity to reshape the campus. His masterplan would not only introduce bold lines and a stark grid to the school's layout and become the setting of the biggest collection of Mies' work in the world, but also become a touchpoint in city planning.
"IIT is the first modernist campus," says John Ronan, an architect and IIT professor. "That is, it represents the first important collection of modernist educational buildings in the U.S., and its significance extends beyond campus design to the design of the city, in that it became broadly influential in its application to city design, specifically the relationship between buildings and open space."