April 28, 2005
The historic renovation of mid-twentieth
century Modernist icons continues to provide new controversies.
The Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) raised eyebrows
when it sponsored an auction on eBay to shatter the first
pane of glass at the schools Mies van der Rohe-designed
Crown Hall, home of its architecture school. Dirk Lohan, a
Chicago architect who attended IIT, is a member of its Board
of Trustees, and not without irony is Mies van
der Rohes grandson, will break the glass after winning
the auction with his high bid of $2,705.
Dubbed the Smash Bash, the May 17, 2005 event
will start a three-month $3.6 million exterior renovation
of the structure and its enclosing glass membrane by Chicago-based
Kreuk and Sexton. Dr. Matthew Hardy, who directs the London-based
International Network for Traditional Building, Architecture
& Urbanism (INTBAU), characterized the event on his organizations
website as a disgusting spectacle of violence towards
a serious work of 20th-century architecture.
"Its not Miess glass! exclaims IIT
Architecture Dean Donna Robertson, referring to the fact that
most of the glass in the building was replaced in the 1970s.
We were going to break it anyway, she continues.
Using an eBay auction was the schools creative response
to the paucity of funds available to renovate historic modernist
structures. The building will be surrounded by a shrouded
scaffold for the duration of the renovation. Corporate branding
on the plastic covering is still under consideration.