Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Mies on Technology

From a 1950 speech by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886-1969) at the Illinois Insitute of Technology:

Technology is rooted in the past. It dominates the present and tends into the future. It is a real historical movement -- one of the great movements which shape and represent their epoch. It can be compared only with the Classic discovery of man as a person, the Roman will to power, and the religious movement of the Middle Ages. Technology is far more than a method, it is a world in itself, as in gigantic structures of engineering, there technology reveals its true nature. There it is evident that it is not only a useful means, but that it is something, something in itself, something that has a meaning and a powerful form -- so powerful in fact, that it is not easy to name it. It that still technology or is it architecture? And that may be the reason why some people are convinced that that architecture will be outmoded and replaced by technology. Such a conviction is not based on clear thinking. The opposite happens. Wherever technology reaches its real fulfillment, it transcends into architecture. It is true that architecture depends on facts, but its real field of activity is in the realm of significance. I hope you will understand that architecture has nothing to do with the invention of forms. It is not a playground for children, young or old. Architecture is the real battleground of the spirit. Architecture wrote the history of the epochs and gave them their names. Architecture depends on its time. It is the crystallization of its inner structure, the slow unfolding of its form. That is the reason why technology and architecture are so closely related. Our real hope is that they will grow together, that some day the one will be the expression of the other. Only then will we have an architecture worthy of its name: architecture as a true symbol of our time.

Taken from Ulrich Conrads, Programs and Manifestoes on 20th Century Architecture (Cambridge: MIT, 2002): 154.

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