IIT Campus Historical Architecture

IIT Main Campus

IIT Main Campus - Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

The Main Campus of Illinois Institute of Technology is an outstanding example of the work of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886-1969), architect and educator and one of the 20th century's most influential architects. His design of the Main Campus and of other important buildings--such as the apartment towers at 860 and 880 North Lake Shore Drive in Chicago and the Seagram Building in New York--helped set a new aesthetic standard for modern architecture. In 1976, the American Institute of Architects designated the campus as one of the 200 most important works of architecture in the country. S.R. Crown Hall, which houses IIT's College of Architecture, was granted National Historic Landmark status in 2001. Other Mies buildings on the Main Campus include Perlstein Hall, Alumni Memorial Hall, Wishnick Hall, Siegel Hall, Robert F. Carr Memorial Chapel of St. Savior, The Commons and three IIT residence halls: Bailey Hall, Carman Hall and Cunningham Hall. In 2005, the entire academic campus of IIT was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

McCormick Tribune Campus Center - Rem Koolhaas

The McCormick Tribune Campus Center (MTCC) at 33rd and State Streets opened in September 2003. Designed by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, he was chosen for the project as a result of an international design competition in 1997-98. Among his completed buildings are the Lille Grand Palais and the Maison a Bordeaux in France, the Netherlands Dance Center in The Hague, and the Educatorium at the University of Utrecht, the Netherlands. Koolhaas' design for the campus center arranges various areas around diagonal pathways, resembling interior streets, that are extensions of the paths students use to cross the campus. The design includes a concrete and stainless steel tube that encloses a 530-foot stretch of the Green Line elevated commuter rail ("L") tracks, passing directly over the one-story campus center building. The tube dampens the sound of trains overhead as students enjoy food courts, student organization offices, retail shops, a recreational facility and campus events.

State Street Village - Helmut Jahn

A new student residence hall designed by Murphy/Jahn architects on the southeast corner of 33rd and State Streets just south of the campus center, was completed in August 2003. The first new residence hall built for IIT students in almost 40 years, the building is composed of three separate five-story buildings, joined by exterior glass walls that muffle noise from passing trains on the adjacent "L" tracks. The entire structure houses 367 students in apartment-style and suite-style units. Helmut Jahn is responsible for the innovative design of the building. Jahn studied architecture at IIT under Mies van der Rohe in the late 1960s. His designs include the State of Illinois' Thompson Center in downtown Chicago, the Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Mo., and the United Airlines Terminal at Chicago's O'Hare Airport. Jahn was voted one of the Ten Most Influential Living American Architects by the American Institute of Architects in 1991.

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886-1969) must be counted among the founders of modern architecture and design. One of the most emulated architects of the 20th century, he was a master teacher of architecture for nearly three decades.

Mies came to IIT to head the university's Department of Architecture soon after the closing of Bauhaus, the renowned design school that flourished in Germany from 1919 until the rise of Nazism in 1933. During his 20 years as chairman of the department (1938-58), he established a curriculum based on the Bauhaus philosophy of synthesizing aesthetics and technology. His emphasis on a strong grounding in the fundamentals of architecture and on a disciplined method of problem solving is reflected in IIT's curriculum today.

Throughout his distinguished career, Mies influenced countless architects and they in turn made his theories into a movement. His own designs--ranging from the Barcelona Pavilion in Spain to the Seagram Building in New York to IIT's S. R. Crown Hall--changed the skylines of cities throughout the world. Crown hall, depicted on the commemorative stamp, was erected in 1955 and was considered by Mies to be one of his greatest architectural achievements. To provide for a flexible, columnless interior, Mies suspended the roof from four steel girders supported by eight external columns spaced 60 feet apart. The home of IIT's College of Architecture, Planning, and Design, Crown Hall has been described as an "immortal contribution to the architecture of Chicago and the world."

S.R. Crown Hall during renovation

A $15 million renovation of Crown Hall, completed in August 2005, modernized the structure with energy-saving mechanicals and windows, along with needed technology upgrades for computers and the Internet--all while carefully preserving the architectural integrity of the building, inside and out.

The master plan of the IIT Main Campus, designed by Mies in 1941, was one of the largest projects he ever conceived and the only one to come so close to achieving complete realization. The campus encompasses 20 of his buildings, the greatest concentration of Mies-designed buildings in the world. Thanks to the first chairman of its architecture department, IIT's campus is considered an architectural landmark of Chicago, and in 2005, the entire academic campus was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.