The Battle to Demolish the Test Cell by Mies van der Rohe

    Lynn Becker nails it (of course, saving this thing is like trying to nail bricks) with his typically powerful and clear writing:
    The view down Federal Street is the only one that puts the industrial aesthetic of Mies's IIT buildings, not in a park-like landscape to help the medicine go down, but directly within the industrial context of a gritty city street running parallel to a set of railroad tracks. If you don't care much for Mies, you probably don't see much beyond ugly. But if you appreciate what he accomplished, you can't miss the incredible, rough beauty.

    The abject Test Cell, a far more accomplished conception than the critics would lead you to believe, is indispensable to that view, a variant of the Miesian corner in the way it mediates the turn from 35th street into the classic assembly of steel, glass and brick industrial buildings on Federal. In the Metra design, it's replaced with a generically prettified plaza, an empty, characterless void that has absolutely no relationship to the IIT complex, and that thoughtlessly trashes any idea of context.

    That view down Federal isn't just another generic city street. It's modernism alley, the place where Chicago architecture was reborn. And that homely sentry station on the corner is its perfect pivot point. idly declare that it won't inflict irreparable violence on one of the most seminal streetviews in Chicago architecture is a willful act of blindness.

    It is beautiful as an ensemble, isn't it?

    Fix it up and let it shine! That's the historically, environmentally and culturally responsible thing to do.

    More on Mies's Test Cell here. A fine work by one of the most important designers of the twentieth century.
    (Thank you, friend.)

    More on saving the Mies van der Rohe Test Cell here.
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