The Arts Club of Chicago

The exterior of the Arts Club of Chicago at 109 East Ontario Street.

For 100 years, The Arts Club of Chicago has been a preeminent venue for promoting the appreciation of art by established and emerging artists. Since its founding in 1916, The Arts Club has found its home in eight different locations, each interior designed by a local architect. Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and John Vinci both completed interiors for The Arts Club; in 1951 Mies van der Rohe completed a second floor interior space for a building at Ontario and Rush, the only interior space he did for a building he did not design, John Vinci of Vinci | Hamp Architects, Inc. completed their current location in 1997, incorporating Mies van der Rohe’s iconic floating staircase into his design.

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe 1886–1969

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe is one of the most celebrated modernist architects of the twentieth century, known for developing the International Style in Germany and abroad, which emphasized function, balance, clean lines and the use of glass and steel.

Mies van der Rohe was born in 1886 in Aachen, Germany, a center of heavy industry. His father was a stonecutter and Mies, who was never formally trained in architecture, often worked with his father, developing his exceptional sensitivity to materials at a young age. At 15, he apprenticed with several architectural firms in Aachen, and in 1905 he moved to Berlin to work for architect and furniture designer Bruno Paul. He received his first independent commission in 1907, the Riehl House in Postdam, and it caught the attention of Peter Behrens, the most progressive architect of the era. Mies joined the firm, where he met Le Corbusier and Walter Gropius, who were also working under Behrens. From 1915 to 1918, he served in the war and, upon returning to Berlin, became involved in the very active artistic scene of the 1920s, when Bauhaus De Stijl and Expressionism were all emerging. In 1924, Mies met Lilly Reich, whom he collaborated and was involved with for many years; together, they designed the Barcelona chair, which debuted at the Mies-designed Germany pavilion for the World’s Fair in 1929 and is now regarded as one of the most iconic designs of the modern era.

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