Mies van der Rohe Plaza

Mies van der Rohe Plaza

We propose Almost Nothing be done.

Our proposal for an installation to honor Mies van der Rohe builds subtly on the plans for reconstructing the pedestrian plaza at the Lafayette Park shops. By extruding the proposed rectangular pattern of concrete, a bas relief is created. This slightly modulated and thickened surface is placed symmetrically within the plaza yet asymmetrically in its “z” axis. This simple modification allows one end to be elevated above plaza grade (for seating) and one end to be slightly depressed (for rain catchment). At its terminus, the surface continues vertically, forming a wall behind which the stairs are placed. Material and program – seating, drainage, paving and sculpture -are combined into a single figure.

The bas relief strategy is used not only for the overall figure in the plaza, but within the individual concrete tiles as well. For the overall effect, we have borrowed Mies’ trademark use of large slabs of material cut into rectangles and “bookmatched” symmetrically about their joints. The difference is that the visual striations inherent in the stone become score lines in the concrete, directing water into the planting beds and depressed end of the plaza. This effectively merges the figurative and the abstract, the aesthetic and the functional.

Project Details

Project Location | Detroit, Michigan
Status | Complete, 2004
PLY Project Team | Craig Borum, FAIA, Karl Daubmann (former PLY Principal), Jen Maigret, AIA, Carl Lorenz
Collaboration | Karen M’Closkey, PEG Office of Landscape + Architecture
Construction | Matt Battin, Peter Stavenger


Michigan AIA Honor Award 2005 (w/PEG)