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Issue 6.2

Mies’s Teaching Laboratory: From Convention Hall to McCormick Place

The Convention Hall in Chicago was the largest structure ever proposed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and demonstrated what he meant by structure as an architectural factor. This paper traces a path between the unbuilt Convention Hall proposal developed by Mies and the McCormick Place Convention Center constructed in Chicago, designed by his graduate student, Gene Summers, at C.F. Murphy. Making connections to students’ work—two master’s theses and one built work—illustrates how fundamental structure and structural engineering were in the architectural pedagogy at Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) and how tightly research, pedagogy, and practice were integrated. It compares these projects graphically and quantitatively and fills in critical gaps on the influences leading up to the building of McCormick Place.

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