Oedipus Rem - by Lynn Becker

Rem Koolhaas engages Mies van der Rohe at the crossroads of the IIT campus. (originally published in somewhat different form under the title "Of Mies and Rem" in the Chicago Reader, September 26, 2003)


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I.    Introduction
II.   Mies van der Rohe and the Creation of a New Architecture on the IIT campus
III. About Rem Koolhaas
IV. Rem Koolhaas's IIT  McCormick Tribune Campus Center
V.  An Interview with Rem Koolhaas
VI.  Photo Gallery

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe may have been interred in Chicago's Graceland Cemetery in 1969, but he remains the great undead of modern architecture. He lives on in his serene temples, such as Crown Hall and the IBM Building, but also in a thousand cheap knockoffs- the sterile glass skyscrapers of the past three decades and their own bastard offspring, cut-rate concrete towers like Grand Plaza and Superior Place.

"The killer of the king is a king," says the prophet Tiresias in Oedipus Rex. The list of architects who would be king is long. Bertrand Goldberg with Marina City, Robert Venturi with his "decorated shed," and Helmut Jahn with his Thompson Center - to name just a few - all wanted to liberate us from the Miesian box but failed to quash its dominance.

Now comes Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, whose new McCormick Tribune Campus Center on the Illinois Institute of Technology campus, the first building he's completed in the U.S., will be dedicated on September 30. "I do not respect Mies," he writes. "I love Mies . . . Because I do not revere Mies, I'm at odds with his admirers." Koolhaas's Student Center is both homage and attack, a fond embrace with murderous intent. Will he succeed where all the others have failed? Will he be the one to finally put Mies to rest and create, as Mies did, an architecture that's the true expression of its time?

        Intro | Mies | Koolhaas | | Campus Center | Koolhaas Interview


© Copyright 2003-2004 Lynn Becker All rights reserved.