The University Record, September 24, 2001

Mies van der Rohe blueprints exhibited at Taubman Gallery

From the University Library and
The A. Alfred Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning

A model from the collection. (Photo by Sandy Ackerman, University Library)
Blueprints from the office of architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe are featured in the new exhibition “Mies in Michigan,” which runs through Sept. 28.

“Mies in Michigan” highlights the modernist ideas of universal space, structural simplicity, and minimalism, and includes documents from a recent University Library acquisition of more than 200 blueprints from the offices of Mies van der Rohe and Frank Lloyd Wright.

The exhibition is sponsored by the A. Alfred Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning (Taubman CAUP) and has drawings of two of the most significant buildings constructed during the past century—the Farnsworth House in Plano, Ill. and Crown Hall at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT). It also includes a less well-known, unbuilt, yet perhaps equally important design proposal for a drive-in restaurant on the outskirts of Indianapolis. Mies van der Rohe’s proposal for the Cantor Drive-In is one of the earliest examples of the concept of “universal space,” a theme that connects all three projects. Characteristic of modern ideals of architecture, the three buildings comprise broad expanses of interior space undivided by structural elements and walls that float in glass, allowing interior and exterior to integrate visually.

“Mies van der Rohe was one of the two or three most significant architects of the 20th century, some would argue the most significant. We are proud to exhibit his precise and elegant construction drawings,” says Doug Kelbaugh, dean and professor of architecture and urban planning at Taubman CAUP.

The collection was the gift of Edward Olencki, professor emeritus of architecture, and his wife, Irene. Olencki studied architecture at IIT and then worked in Chicago for Mies van der Rohe, 1943–1948. Later Olencki joined the faculty at the University, where he taught for nearly 40 years.

“We are most grateful for this generous gift from Professor Olencki,” said Michael D. Miller, director, Arts and Engineering Libraries. “We are honored to add these rich early works of two of the most influential architects of the twentieth century to our collections.”

The exhibition runs through Sept. 28 at the Taubman College Gallery in Room 2106 of the Art and Architecture Building. The gallery is open 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Monday–Friday. Following the exhibit, the collection will be available for viewing by appointment at the Rare Books Room at the Media Union Library.

For more information about the collection or to arrange an appointment, contact Rebecca Price at (734) 647-5274.