Mies Van Der Rohe is the talk of the internet this Tuesday thanks to a Google doodle celebrating his 126th birthday, architectural accomplishments and legacy, but it is quite possible that the search giant's Mountain View campus is a more apt tribute, influenced as it is, by the modernist thought that Van Der Rohe, along with Le Corbusier and Gropius popularized in America.
By replacing the ornamental with plate glass and steel, the modernists created an international style based on a visual language of simple, clean gestures. More than most of his contemporaries, Van Der Rohe left a swathe of must-see buildings across Europe including the Villa Tugendhat in the Czech Republic and the Barcelona Pavilion.
Part of the reason Van Der Rohe work has long been so popular with culture-minded travelers is that there is so much of it in so many places. Because the great architect emigrated from Germany after the Nazi regime's rise to power, Chicago can boast to possessing many of his masterworks. The Illinois Institute of Technology and the Farnsworth House are particularly famous attractions in the Midwest because of Frank Lloyd Wright's apparent influence on their construction, but New Yorkers will recognize the Seagram building, which was constructed both to be functional and as a prototype of what a modern skyscraper could be.
Van Der Rohe famously claimed that, "Architecture is the will of an epoch translated into space" and to see his work is to travel back in time to the era just before the modern took on frightening, nuclear undertones, when the West looked toward the future without trepidation. To stand in or near a Van Der Rohe is to be cut free from the tangle of the post-modern -- everything Google represents -- and have the world simplified into practical, graceful parts.
Here are a few destinations for would-be appreciators of the modern: