Forgotten Modernism

A little-known Mies van der Rohe design will be built at Indiana University

A forgotten Mies van der Rohe design is going to be built at Indiana University. (Courtesy IU Eskenazi School)

Indiana University’s (IU) Eskenazi School of Art, Architecture + Design is about to gain a brand new building designed by Mies van der Rohe. Originally planned for IU’s Bloomington campus in 1952, the 10,000-square-foot glass-walled structure was never realized, until now. 

Thanks to a $20 million donation from alumni philanthropists Sidney and Lois Eskenazi, architecture students, faculty, and staff will soon move into a 21st-century construction with a little-known design by one of the greatest modernist architects of all time. The IU Board of Trustees approved the plans last week to use van der Rohe’s recently-rediscovered plans, and it confirmed that the building would be renamed for the Eskenazi’s generous contribution. 

Old sketch of low-hanging academic building

Sketch by Mies van der Rohe (Courtesy IU Eskenazi School)

Thomas Phifer and Partners were tapped to lead the build-out while they continue to work on another campus project, a 14,200-square-foot student center, coming soon. School officials say the low-lying minimalist design of the facility will complement the former Republic Newspaper building in Columbus, Indiana, where the school’s new J. Irwin Miller Architecture Program is held. 

“The construction of this extraordinary work of architecture will support IU’s growth in one of IU’s newest schools,” said IU president Michael A. McRobbie in a statement, “and will serve as an enduring symbol of the legacy of generosity of Sidney and Lois Eskenazi, and an enduring symbol of the very founding of architectural modernism.”

Established in 2016, the Eskenazi School of Art, Architecture + Design combines 14 areas of study in IU’s art, architecture, design, and merchandising programs. The new building is slated for completion in June 2021. 

Related Stories