The Aluminum rods of British Pavilion in Shanghai are void or soild?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Seagram and Lever

Christian Schittich made a comparison of two representative modernism style skyscrapers in New York, Seagram Building, by Mies van der Rohe, 1958 and Lever House, by SOM Architects, 1952 in his paper " Shell Skin Materials". Schittich also give an argument for Mies's philosophy from an exclusive perspective.

Seagram Building, Mies van der Rohe, 1958
Mies re-interpreted the curtain wall and imposed his own aesthetics. He began to even suspend profiles that had no structural function in front of the facades. He placed "double-T" sections in front of the facade to emphasize the notion of "reaching for the sky"-the verticality of the building. For the Seagram Building in New York he no longer used mass-produced components, but expensive customized components in bronze. This enables him to influence the cross section: Mies reinforces the visible flanges without giving them greater optical weight. He stretches the window
s in a continuous, uninterrupted expanse form floor to ceiling without horizontal divisions and achieves the decisive verticality of the facades. All glass panes are tinted golder brown through the addition of iron oxide and selenium(硒). The result is that the volume no longer appears transparent and light, but almost opaque: he seems to have abandoned the transparency he strove for in the 1920s.

Lever House, SOM, 1952
A few years earlier, the architects SOM had created the prototype for a light curtain wall on a high-rise in the Lever Building diagonally across form the Seagram Building on New York's Park Avenue. A consistent delicate network of polished stainless steel frame sections clothes the facade, which appears completely detached from the load-bearing structure and is only linked by discrete point fixings to transfer the wind loads. The radically minimized profiles are infilled with semi-reflective glazing with an iridescent blue-green sheen. Since the closed parapets are also clad in the same blue-green glass, they are barely noticeable on the outside. Naturally, this level of lightness could only be achieved with fixed single glazing. The result is a building that is hermetically closed on all sides without any operable windows, fully reliant upon artificial ventilation and air-conditioning.

As different as these two solutions are, they contributed to equal measure to the rapid proliferation of the curtain wall. Mies, especially, is firmly convinced that the external appearance of a building must be plain and simple, and that the principle visual focus should be provided by the selection of appropriate materials and the careful execution of details. He is obsessed with perfecting certain formal aspects. His formal vocabulary responds neither to the site nor to the building task. He designs apartment buildings in much the same manner as office buildings; high-rises in the style of his New York building are repeated in Chicago or Toronto. His philosophy contributes largely to the world-wide plagiarism of his structures. This mass-production, however, culminates not only in a loss of originality but also in the loss of the love of detail.

Reference: Shell, Skin, Materials, by Christiam Schittich

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