chapter  11
14 Pages

‘God is in the details’/‘The detail is moot’: a meeting between Mies and Koolhass

WithMies and Koolhaas Mhairi McVicar

When the 1998 competition entry for the McCormick Tribune Campus Center at IIT, designed by Koolhaas’ Offi ce for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), proposed to subsume Mies van der Rohe’s Commons Building, there was an outcry – perhaps predictably – among parts of the Chicago architectural community.3 Koolhaas responded with the essay ‘Miesstakes’, arguing that the

Commons could be read as either ‘surprisingly accommodating’ or as a ‘pathetically martyred icon’.4 As well as listing and illustrating numerous interior and exterior adaptations – or degradations – which the Commons had accommodated in the fi ve decades since its construction, Mies – Koolhaas claimed – was ‘uninterested’ in the construction of the Commons, his apparent lack of direct involvement in this specifi c work rendering it more accommodating to adaptation than other works in the Miesian oeuvre.