Mies van der Rohe: Speech to architecture students.Armour Institute, Chicago 1938.
In 1938 the Armour Institute of Technology, a technical training school in Chicago that would become a founding part of the IIT, engaged Ludwig Mies van der Rohe as thedirector of the Department of Architecture. The school strove to transform its traditional architecture program into one of international stature and innovation; Mies was a logical choice for achieving this goal. He had achieved international recognition and established a reputation in the field of architectural education while serving as director of the Bauhaus school of design in Germany from 1930 through 1933. After relocating to Chicago in 1938, Mies reshaped the architectural education of the Armour Institute and developed a disciplined curriculum to be carried out in acooperative environment. Interaction was encouraged between students and a faculty comprised of professionals from a wide range of design disciplines.In November 1938, assuming the leadership of the Armour Institute’s architecturesection, Mies delivered an inaugural address. He called upon the students to assimilatethe idea that, beyond ends and before formalization, was the “disciplined path frommaterials through the practical aims of creative work” This is the complete text of that speech.
All education must begin with the practical side of life.
Real education, however, musttranscend this to mould the personality.
The first aim should be to develop hispersonality and to enable him to make the right use of his knowledge and skill.
Thustrue education is concerned not only with practical goals but also with values.
By our practical aims we are bound to the specific structure of our epoch. Our values,on the other hand, are rooted in the spiritual nature of men.
Our practical aimsmeasure only our material progress. The values we profess reveal the level of ourculture.
Different as practical aims and values are, they are nevertheless closelyconnected.
For to what else should our values be related if not to our aims in life?
Human existence is predicated on the two spheres together. Our aims assure us of our material life, our values make possible our spiritual life.
If this is true of all human activity where even the slightest question of value isinvolved, how especially true of the sphere of architecture.
In organizing anarchitectural education system we must recognize this situation if we are to succeedin our efforts. We must fit the system to this reality. Any teaching of architecturemust explain these relations and interrelations.
We must make clear, step by step,what things are possible, necessary and significant.
If teaching has any purpose, it isto implant true insight and responsibility.
Education must lead us from irresponsibleopinion to true responsible judgment.
It must lead us from chance and arbitrarinessto rational clarity and intellectual order.
Therefore let us guide our students over the road of discipline from materials,through function, to creative work. Let us lead them into the healthy world of primitive building methods, where there was meaning in every stroke of an axe,expression in every bite of a chisel.
Where can we find greater structural clarity thanin the wooden building of old? Where else can we find such unity of material,construction and form?
Here the wisdom of whole generations is stored.
What feelingfor material and what power of expression there is in these buildings!
What warmthand beauty they have! They seem to be echoes of old songs.
And buildings of stoneas well; what natural feeling they express!
What a clear understanding of the material!How surely it is joined!
What sense they had of where stone could and could not beused!
Where do we find such a wealth of structure? Where more natural and healthy