Image: Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Chicago Federal Center
Towards an Architectural Theology: An Appropriation of Thought Between Tillich and Mies
Paul Tillich and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe were exact contemporaries. Born in Germany in 1886, both opposed the rise of National Socialism and went into American exile in the 1930s. From exile, both engaged with the spiritual crisis of the modern age, proposing lasting ways to create, express, and understand meaning in modernity. And even though they initially developed their respective responses in Europe, it was only in America that these responses took on physical form in Mies’ architecture and intellectual form in Tillich’s theology. This study uses Tillich’s thought to provide a new reading of Mies’ architecture.
FROM the 1920s onwards, a new type of urban architecture became the dominant expression of modernity. Primarily found in public and commercial buildings but also applied to private homes, it was typified by the new use of mass-produced materials, an emphasis on glass and steel, a focus on grids and straight lines, the expansive use of white walls and a lack of colour, the dismissal of spires and pitched roofs in favour of flat ones, and a rejection of what was deemed unnecessary decoration and ornamentation. Following a ground-breaking exhibition at the New York Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in 1932, curated by Henry-Russell Hitchcock and Philip Johnson, it became widely known as the International Style.
This architectural style was, in many ways, an exilic style, made manifest in America by European exiles before being exported back to Europe—and across the world—as part of mid-century American modernity. As such, it entailed a substantial degree of American appropriation of European ideas. But the International Style is not only a constructed appropriation (an appropriation that changed the American skyline and, indeed, the skyline of modernity as a whole); it is also, perhaps first and foremost, an American appropriation of European thought, of thought made manifest.
This study forges a connection between the thought of two appropriated exiles, the architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886-1969) and the philosophical theologian Paul Tillich (1886-1965). Both were born in Germany and left in the 1930s due to conflicts with the Nazis. Mies was the last director of the famous Bauhaus school and, following its enforced closure, left for America in 1937, where he became the head of architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago. Embarking on a second architectural and academic career, he spread European ideas and forms of architecture throughout America and, by direct or indirect influence, the modern world. Tillich was a Lutheran theologian and Christian existentialist philosopher who taught at a number of German universities before, in 1933, being dismissed by the Nazis from his Professorship in Theology at the University of Frankfurt. In American exile, he taught at Union Theological Seminary in New York (1933-1954) and became an American citizen in 1940, going on to teach at Harvard University and the University of Chicago. A leading public intellectual, his theological and philosophical thought had a major impact in America and wider Western modernity.
Below, I will deliberately create a new appropriation of thought between Mies and Tillich, using the latter to rethink that central symbol of American modernity, the Seagram Building.1 I will argue that the Seagram building, completed in 1958, was the appropriation of the Zeitgeist made manifest—as understood via Reyner Banham, who wrote in 1955 that
ideas do not just bumble around in the abstract, looking for somewhere to settle. They are formulated in the minds of men and communicated from man to man. The Zeitgeist is primarily a record of our ignorance of the communications that took place in any particular epoch.2
Can a Zeitgeist be appropriated, then? Was American modernity in fact the appropriation of the European Zeitgeist—albeit delayed and then expanded upon by American capitalist society? And if so, could we understand the Seagram Building as the American capitalist Zeitgeist appropriation of Mies’ unrealized 1921 design for a fully glass-sheathed skyscraper, his famous Friedrichstrasse Skyscraper Project?3 Did it take American capitalism to realise this design, no longer sheathed in glass alone but, should we say, in glass, steel, and logic? And how might another appropriated German thinker, Paul Tillich, help us understand the Seagram Building as a secular cathedral, a cathedral built by, if not necessarily for, capitalism?
The Expatriate State of Mind
In 1933, Tillich went into exile in America to teach at Union Theological Seminary in New York City. The very same year, Mies and his colleagues closed the Bauhaus art school. Mies was able to stay in Germany for a few more years, moving only when the Nazis’ anti-modernist aesthetic, their rejection of modernism in art as decadent and un-Aryan, took on expressly political forms. We could say that both made the choice to move, but choosing to stay would have rendered them unable to do what they did in the ways that they wanted. I am reminded of what Donald Pizer terms the expatriate state of mind:
Reduced to its most fundamental level, the expatriate or self-exile state of mind is compounded out of the interrelated conditions of the rejection of a homeland and the desire for and acceptance of an alternative place. The world one has been bred in is perceived to suffer from intolerable inadequacies and limitations; another world seems to be free of these failings and to offer a more fruitful way of life.4
While Pizer was writing of American expatriates in Europe, we can also turn this around, remembering that for many mid-century Europeans, America seemed free of the limitations, political upheavals, and imminent destruction besetting Europe, offering a more expansive horizon of possibilities. For both Mies and Tillich, then, the move was a move for and into freedom, the freedom of the New World.
This freedom was one that dislocated and relocated both. As John Berger observes, “to emigrate is always to dismantle the centre of the world, and so to move into a lost, disoriented world of fragments.”5 In America, in what was a different modernity, Tillich and Mies found themselves embodying what Caren Kaplan terms the Euro-American modernist tropes of “exile, solitude, distance, emptiness, nostalgia and loss.”6 Just as important, however, is George Santayana’s reminder that “the exile, to be happy, must be born again: he must change his moral climate and the inner landscape of his mind.”7 Appropriation involves a process of giving up to the new possibility—and, in so doing, of unlocking its potential. As Lloyd S. Kramer puts it, “the experience of exile establishes a new interaction between social context and intellectual analysis.”8
According to Tillich’s own thoughts on the hope of “new being” in Western culture, “the expectation of the New Being is the expectation of a transformed reality. The transformation occurs in and through a historical process which is unique, unrepeatable, irreversible.”9 It was the crossing to America that facilitated, if not demanded, the “new being” of Tillich and of Mies; and if Mies used architecture to express the “new being” and to transform the new reality he found himself in, Tillich used his religious thinking to transform how the new reality of modernity was understood.
The Exilic Task
There are, of course, obvious and significant differences between Tillich and Mies. Perhaps most importantly, Tillich was Lutheran Protestant while Mies was from a Catholic background; Tillich was strongly influenced by both socialism and existentialism while Mies was politically disengaged. Nonetheless, both wished to address the issues of living in technological modernity; both wished to communicate the spiritual tension of the age, a tension given new focus and immediacy in America. In so doing, they both engaged in the creative hermeneutics—that is, the creative interpretation—of the exilic task:
Exile provokes new forms of interpretation by defamiliarizing the familiar and familiarizing the unfamiliar [….] [It provides] an experience of marginality that places self-conscious individuals both inside and outside two cultures at the same time.10
Their shared exilic task was to respond to an issue identified in Tillich’s Theology of Culture: “The European danger is a lack of horizontal actualization; the American danger is a lack of vertical depth.”11 And both, albeit independently, attempted a similar synthesis to overcome these dangers. Their shared understanding was that the rise of modern, secular, technological society could only be properly understood and engaged in relation to what is labelled the religious and the spiritual.
It can be argued that America provided opportunities for such an understanding and engagement that Europe did not and could not. The Death of God, as infamously proclaimed by Nietzsche in 19th-century Europe, had to be re-experienced and rethought in 20th-century America, and Tillich played a major part in setting the scene for such a discussion. Before World War II, as one Tillich commentator notes, America was “open to a boundless future and unlimited possibilities [whereas] after the war, America found herself, for the first time, in the boundary situation and she did not like it.”12 This meant that in “the midst of her wealth and riches she [that is, America] experienced, as never before, the threat of meaninglessness.”13
Mies and Tillich rose to this challenge in two differing but parallel ways. For Mies, you literally construct meaning into the heights, while for Tillich, you construct meaning in the depths of human thinking and being. But only in a society that holds both the religious and the secular in esteem and in tension can such approaches assume societal value. Otherwise, in the end, a building is just a building, and the depths are only personal. The appropriation, then, is never just of the exile by the new place; there is also the counter-appropriation whereby the new place, in this case America, is appropriated by the exile. Consider the case of Tillich:
The influence of the New World began to show very clearly in Tillich’s work which now overcame certain provincial limitations. Indeed, it is his emigration to the new country of his choice which enabled Tillich to be understood everywhere and to speak not only to the few but to the world.14
Did American appropriation allow, facilitate, encourage, or perhaps even demand such an overcoming of provincial limitations? More so, did it allow, in a deliberately forced analogy, Tillich’s thought to become “the international style”? That is, did Tillich in exile become a distinctly modern thinker, a thinker who transcended the limits of theological philosophy / philosophical theology to become the public intellectual who made the cover of TIME magazine in 1959, one who embodied what many, including the semi- and unchurched, considered to be modern religious thought? Similarly, was it America, in all its wealth, expanse, and possibility, that enabled Mies to become, in many ways, the modern architect?
Towards an Architectural Theology
At the heart of Mies’ vision was what he termed Baukunst; this has been translated variously as the “art of building, the art of construction or building art.”15 Mies himself, in 1923, described his underlying theory as follows:
Baukunst is the will of an epoch translated into space; living, changing, new. Not yesterday, not tomorrow, only today can be given form. Only this kind of building is creative. Create form out of the nature of the tasks with the methods of our times. This is our task.16
Influenced in his task by Aquinas, Mies stated in 1964:
I was interested in the philosophy of values and problems of the spirit [….] I allowed myself the question “what is the truth? What is the truth?” until I stopped at Thomas Aquinas, you know. I found the answer for that.17
For Mies, the answer lay in Aquinas’ definition of truth: Adequatio intellectus et rei. The literal translation is “the correspondence of intellect and thing”; for Mies it became “truth is the significance of fact.”18 19 And as early as 1938, after stating that his goal was “creating order out of the godforsaken confusion of our time,” Mies had maintained that “Nothing can express the aim and meaning of our work better than the profound words of St Augustine—‘Beauty is the splendour of Truth.’”20
Note the use of “godforsaken”; a word I would argue is not used lightly. In a godforsaken time, the task of secular, human creation is the construction of beauty as expression of truth. It is before this background that architectural theoretician Fritz Neumeyer can describe Mies’ usage of Aquinas as the “summa theologica of Mies’s building art,”21 an art that Detlef Mertins summarizes as follows:
It was a way for humanity to take charge of the machine, its abstract rationality, domination of nature, fragmentation and inhumanity, and draw it into culture, which was invested with sacred qualities, albeit in secularised guise.22
While still in Europe, Mies was working on his theory of the communicative value of architecture. In a 1928 lecture on “The prerequisites for Creating Artistic Construction,” he pointed to the possibility “of unfolding consciously artistic and spiritual values in the hard and clear light of technology.”23 He had already explored similar ideas in 1927, stating that
the leaders of the modern movement attempt to recognize the spiritual and material forces of our own period, investigate them and draw, without prejudice, the consequences. For only where the building art leans on the material forces of a period can it bring about the spatial execution of its spiritual decisions.24
The spiritual dimension of architecture was an ever-present concern for Mies. In a lecture manuscript, he asks, “Is the world as it presents itself bearable for man? … Can it be shaped so as to be worthwhile to live in?”25 But equally evident to Mies was the fact that “this world and no other is offered to us. Here we must take our stand.”26 This stand amounted to drawing on modern technology as well as the lessons and rules of the past, on Baukunst, the builder’s art, to construct temples of rational order in a language of steel and glass within the system of the grid, thereby creating new symbols of meaning for a modern technological world.
Such an architectural theology does not only attempt to give meaning to a new world of secular, technological modernity, but also to express this meaning in the built environment. Such an architectural theology is meant to serve as the built expression of human knowledge, technology, and creativity; of how to be modern; and of how to articulate the sacred in secular society. In the old world of Europe, such attempts were constrained by tradition and politics. In America, in the new world technical city, something new happened. An intentional, technical, sacred-secular city and society were constructed by appropriation. The secular was made explicit and the sacred implicit, resulting in a secular-sacred space that raised new questions of identity and meaning for those who lived within it.
Mies is well-known for his oft-quoted statements that “less is more” and “God is in the details.” Together, these two architectural aphorisms drove a modernist aesthetic that took Nietzsche’s Death of God, secularized it, and then respiritualized it within the architect’s brief. The architect became the prophet of a new modernist aesthetic, the high priest of modernist technology. In About Religion, Mark C. Taylor maintains that “with the death of God, the high priest of salvation becomes the architect of New Jerusalem which will finally be built.”27 Here, then, we find the driving force of modernist architecture: to build temples of humanism that signified the absence of God, of God neither transcendent nor immanent. All we have are the constructions, the human creations—in culture and technology—where only those who can read the details can read the trace of God.
The Short Circuit
While Tillich was certainly aware and appreciative of Mies—he even had Mies van der Rohe chairs in his Frankfurt apartment28—there is very little correlation between the work and thought of the two exiles. Therefore, to read Mies via Tillich and to think Tillich via Mies is to draw upon (and indeed to reappropriate!) Slavoj Žižek’s notion of the short circuit:29 We are looking for the sparks that may fly off a productive encounter between minor and major texts, or in this case, two major thinkers who are rarely if ever short-circuited. What I propose via this short circuit is a kind of signposting, a starting place, a conjecture, and a provocation to rethink elements of modernity, of America, and of European thought in translocation and reappropriation.
I argue that Tillich offers a unique, contemporary, co-exilic perspective on Mies’ modernist architecture. While Mies was developing his particular theology of technology in architecture, Tillich was doing so on paper, starting with his essay, “The Technical City as Symbol” (1928). In the technical city, Tillich argues, technology creates new forms of urban life, experience, thought, art, culture, and landscapes, as “a symbol for the condition of our souls, for our feeling for life, for our will to be creative.”30
According to Tillich, “he who can read the style of a culture can discover its ultimate concern, its religious substance.”31 In Tillich’s theology of culture, “ultimate concern,” that is, the essence of our religious attitudes or that which gives value and meaning to our lives, “is manifest in all creative functions of the human spirit.32 Tillich includes architecture amongst the creative expressions that “show in their style both the encounter with non-being, and the strength which can stand this encounter and shape it creatively.” In this sense, architecture “can be understood as the revelation of man’s predicament”33—or, in Miesian terms, Baukunst can be seen as “the will of an epoch translated into space.”34
The Individual and the Universal
One of the few contemporary texts to reference both Tillich and Mies is Adolf Behne’s The Modern Functional Building (1926). Tillich is quoted in two places, both drawing on his 1923 text, The System of the Sciences according to Objects and Methods. In the first instance, Behne uses Tillich’s terminology of “heterogeneous” and “autogenous” to distinguish the functionalists and Le Corbusier:35 functionalist methods are heterogeneous because “they are adequate to only one element of the object, not to the object as a whole,”36 whereas Le Corbusier’s method is autogenous, that is “adequate to [its] objects.”37
In the second case, Behne uses Tillich’s terminology of “consequence,” “law,” and “form” to explain how a “thinking person” can “create something general, comprehensive” which is therefore not merely of significance for the individual being. In so doing, the individual becomes “part of a (temporal) context whereby form is the actual, concrete real being.”38 This interpenetration of function and temporality—or function and form—“makes the building a living, concrete form (Gestalt).”39
In the source text, Tillich distinguishes two categories within the “technology of transformation,” the first consisting of technical tools while the second encompasses practices by which “the surface of the earth is permanently transformed.”40 Within this second group, Tillich states, architecture is “[t]he most important area of the technology of transformation” because it “combines science and art.”41
“The history of culture,” Tillich states, “is immediately related to the history of technology.”42 While technology is “the shaping of reality according to a goal,”43 culture is concerned with “spiritual contexts.”44 Architecture, then, can be understood as the conjunction of technology and culture, resulting in an intensification of the two elements Tillich identifies within both: “a spiritual, normative element and a technical, existential one, or creation and invention.”45
Creation is a process in which individuality and universality meet: Tillich maintains that “[c]reation is the individual realization of the universal” and that “the more individual and at the same time more universal a reality, the clearer its creative character.” For Tillich, “the highest form of creativity is […] the spirit-bearing gestalt,” whereby “on the one-hand, the spirit-bearing gestalt is completely separated from the universal; it is something absolutely unique and individual. On the other hand, it contains the universal; it can absorb everything real.”46 Mies’ architecture, then, can be considered as the spirit-bearing gestalt, the individual expression of a universal, international style within modernism.
If we think of Mies’ modernist architecture as the attempt to express a universal form, we can also correlate it to Tillich’s discussion of “the conflict between thought and being” which “sustains the entire system” of “the sciences of being.”47 According to Tillich, this conflict occurs because:
thought desires unity; it creates the universal, the comprehensive, the systematic framework. But being confronts thought as the particular, the incomprehensible, the individual, that which cannot be dissolved in the infinity of thought.48
What Hitchcock and Johnson’s 1932 MOMA exhibition famously labelled the International Style is really Mies’ architecture as it strives to provide a systematic framework to the thought of the universal and the comprehensive. The structure, the order, the system created by Mies did become a type of universal modernist language, his thought constructed globally. Yet Tillich’s insight helps us appreciate that the universal of Mies’ thought was expressed through the particular being of Mies: this is why a Miesian building looks, feels, and is different than all other buildings constructed as modernist thought. The universal modernist thought that does not express Mies’ particular conflict of being does not result in a Miesian building for, to put it in Behne’s words, a building by Mies is in fact a living, concrete form (gestalt) of Mies.
“For being to resist thought,” Tillich maintains, “in order for an individual to distinguish itself from others, being must be filled with thought determinations”49 whereby “the individual gives all thought determination its own individual coloration.”50 In order to achieve this individual coloration, Mies must be, in Tillichian terms, “the most highly formed being, the spiritual individual, that offers the greatest resistance to thought.”51 In so doing, Mies becomes the expression of a Tillichian gestalt—whereby a universal law is opposed from within by the individual who represents it, meaning that “every gestalt is distinguished from every other gestalt by its individual character and is at the same time the standard for all similar gestalts by virtue of its gestalt laws.”52
It is the concrete nature of the Miesian gestalt, its concrete nature in architecture, that gives significance to Mies and his buildings. As the expression of the universal law of international modernism made immanent via the spiritual individual of Mies, Miesian building expresses what Tillich describes as “the absolutely concrete gestalt” which is “a unique individual within an infinitesimal moment of time.”53
Furthermore, Miesian building is an expression of what Tillich terms organic technology, transcending both the organic, in which “the formative idea is inherent in the material,” and technology, in which “the idea is imposed upon the material.”54 With organic technology, as realized in the gestalt moment, the gestalt expression of Miesian building, “the purpose is both immanent and transcendent and […] the posited goal is only to realise the inner tendencies and possibilities of the organism itself.”55 Of course, a building is not an organism, but I am arguing that a Miesian building is never just a building in itself but rather the gestalt of Mies, that is, a Miesian building, where the “inner tendencies and possibilities” are those of “form follows function,” those of “God [seemingly absent but present in the depths] is in the details,” those of Baukunst.
Thinking with the Seagram Building
Buildings are texts to think with—if we are open to the possibility. The Seagram Building, which art critic Herbert Muschamp has called “the millennium’s most important building,”56 is a central, foundational text with which to think what it means to be modern. Deliberately set back from the street and approached across a wide forecourt, the Seagram Building is a temple of secular modernity, the building wherein the “ultimate concern” of modernity is expressed. It renders visible the contradictions and tensions of modernity: order and transparency, structure and space, classicism and the shock of the new, Europe and America, the singular work of art that is constantly copied and replicated as commercial idea and form. It is the peak of classical modernism, the physical expression of what Gevork Hartoonian terms “the ontology of construction,”57 and the culmination of what I term Mies’ secular spirituality as expressed in his 1924 statement:
[T]he entire striving of our epoch is directed toward the secular. The efforts of the mystics will remain episodes. Although our understanding of life has become more profound, we will not build cathedrals [….] [W]e do not value the great gesture but rationality and reality.58
The Seagram Building’s emphasis on order, space, purpose, function, and choice of materials expresses both Mies’ “ontology of construction” and his Baukunst. A perfect example of construction as communication of the spirit of the age, as “ultimate concern,” the Seagram Building is the site where capitalism, modernity, technology, ontology, secularity, and spirit all meet.
Mies literally creates a space of being within the ultimate modern capitalist city, a building set back upon an open plaza of ninety feet, entered by walking up 3 steps from Park Avenue. In 1977, Phyllis Lambert, architect and daughter of the Seagram Company’s owner, “likened the Seagram plaza to the parvis before a cathedral.”59 There is space to look, to think, to meditate. Every step across the plaza is designed to make you think and question the why of this unfamiliar urban space, every step of approach makes you increasingly aware of this building as a statement of the universal yet singular, the secular cathedral of modern technology and capitalism. Lambert goes on to proclaim that the Seagram Building “is unsurpassed in its immanence,”60 an immanence that Thomas Beeby labels the “spiritual ascension created by material negation.”61 Lambert concludes as follows:
In bringing order, nature and revolutionary spatiality, Mies’s urban clearings give rise to a new sense of urban condition [whereby] podium and building are united as elements of a sacred precinct for everyday life.62
“Probably,” Tillich notes, “the way modern religious art will be reborn is through architecture.”63 The Miesian buildings, particularly the skyscrapers of post-war America culminating in the Seagram Building, are temples of secular modernity, temples of the modern, secular imagination that draw on the spiritual teachings and resources of the past in an attempt to express what it means to be modern. Conceptualized in 1920s Europe, the ideas that would lead to this architecture were transferred to America in the 1930s and fully appropriated there, in thought and building, in the post-war period. Only in America could these ideas find such resolution in buildings whose transparent architecture made it possible, in Fritz Schulze’s words, “to enclose space while transfiguring it, to make space a mystical entity, the immaterial manifestation of the higher truth”.64
Perhaps we might conclude by proposing that the secular search for rationality, order, beauty, and truth, as found in Mies’ modernist architecture, is, at the same time, a judgment in Tillichian terms, for “the secular is the rational and the rational must judge the irrationality of the Holy.”65 Does the Miesian temple of the Seagram Building offer such a judgment? And if so, does this building embody, as in the title of Tillich’s brief note, The Ideal of Holy Emptiness for the twentieth century?
MIKE GRIMSHAW works at the intersections of continental thought, social and cultural theory, intellectual history, and radical theology. He is Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand, Co-editor of Continental Thought and Theory, and founding editor of Radical Theologies and Philosophies (Palgrave Macmillan).
dePICTions volume 2 (2022): U.S. vs. … (Un-)American Crossings and Appropriations
1. 375 Park Avenue, New York City.↑
2. Reyner Banham, A Critic Writes, selected by Mary Banham, Paul Barker, Sutherland Lyall, and Cedric Price, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1996, 163.↑
3. Berlin-Mitte, Germany.↑
4. Donald Pizer, American Expatriate Writing and the Paris Moment: Modernism and Place, Baton Rouge, Louisiana State University Press, 1996, 1.↑
5. John Berger, And Our Faces, My Heart, Brief as Photos, New York: Pantheon Books, 1984, 57.↑
6. Caren Kaplan, Questions of Travel. Postmodern Discourses of Displacement, Durham: Duke University Press, 1996, 69.↑
7. George Santayana, “The Philosophy of Travel,” in Marc Robinson (ed.), Altogether Elsewhere: Writers on Exile, San Diego: Harvest / Harcourt & Grace, 1994, 11.↑
8. Lloyd S. Kramer, Threshold of a New World: Intellectuals and the Exile Experience in Paris 1830-1848, Ithaca: Cornell University press, 1988, 8.↑
9. Paul Tillich, Systematic Theology III, Welwyn: James Nisbet & Co, 1964, 101.↑
10. Kramer, Threshold of a New World, 2, 7.↑
11. Paul Tillich, Theology of Culture, New York: Oxford University Press, 1959, 168.↑
12. Jerald C. Bauer, “Paul Tillich’s Impact on America,” in Paul Tillich, The Future of Religions, ed. Jerald C. Bauer, New York: Harper & Row, 1966, 19.↑
13. Bauer, “Paul Tillich’s Impact,” 20.↑
14. Walter Liebrecht, “The Life and Mind of Paul Tillich,” in Walter Liebrecht (ed.), Religion and Culture: Essays in Honor of Paul Tillich, New York: Harper and Brothers, 1959, 18.↑
15. Fritz Neumeyer, “Mies as Self-Educator,” in R. Achilles, K. Harrington, and C. Myhrum (eds.), Mies van der Rohe: Architect as Educator, Chicago: Illinois Institute of Technology, 1986, 36, footnote 8.↑
16. Neumeyer, “Mies as Self-Educator,” 30 (original in Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, “Bauen,” G nv.2 Sept 1923, 1).↑
17. John Peter, The Oral History of Modern Architecture. Interviews with the Greatest Architects of the Twentieth Century, New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1994, 158.↑
18. Richard Pandovan, “Machine à Méditer,” in Achilles, Harrington, and Myhrum (eds.), Mies van der Rohe, 17. Pandovan sources Mies’ mistranslation to Peter Carter in Architectural Design (March 1961), 97.↑
19. Mies’ reduction of Aquinas is reflected in the reductionism of his building art. The discipline and order he read into Aquinas were in reaction to Spengler’s cultural pessimism, which Mies hoped to overcome via the discipline and order that modern architecture could exhibit and inspire. For Spengler’s discussion of civilizational change, see his two-volume The Decline of the West (1918/1922).↑
20. Fritz Neumeyer, The Artless World: Mies van der Rohe on the Building Art, translated by Mark Jarzombek, Cambridge: MIT Press, 1991, 222.↑
21. Neumeyer, The Artless World, 223.↑
22. Detlef Mertins, Mies, London: Phaidon Press, 2014, 147.↑
23. Quoted in Neumeyer, “Mies as self-educator,” 33.↑
24. Quoted in Neumeyer, The Artless World, 262.↑
25. Quoted in Neumeyer, The Artless World, xii.↑
26. Quoted in Neumeyer, The Artless World, 236. Here, as Neumeyer notes, Mies is influenced by the Catholic thinker Romano Guardini.↑
27. Mark C. Taylor, About Religion: Economies of Faith in Virtual Culture, Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1999, 117.↑
28. Wilhelm and Marion Pauck, Paul Tillich. His Life & Thought. Volume 1: Life, New York: Harper & Row, 1976, 121.↑
29. Žižek’s notion of the short circuit, its “secret meeting,” is where a major text and or author is “short-circuited” by reading via “a ‘minor’ author, text or conceptual apparatus [….] If the minor reference is well chosen, such a procedure can lead to insights which completely shatter and undermine our common perceptions” (Slavoj Žižek, “Short Circuits” series foreword, 2003).↑
30. Paul Tillich, “The Technical City as Symbol,” in Paul Tillich, The Spiritual Situation in Our Technical Society, edited by J. Mark Thomas, Macon: Mercer University Press, 1988, 179.↑
31. Tillich, Theology of Culture, 42-43.↑
32. Tillich, Theology of Culture, 8-9.↑
33. Tillich, Theology of Culture, 46-47.↑
34. Neumeyer, “Mies as Self-Educator, 30 (original in Mies, “Bauen,” G nv.2 Sept 1923, 1).↑
35. Adolf Behne, The Modern Functional Building, Santa Monica, Getty Research Institute for the History of Art and the Humanities, 1996, 131.↑
36. Paul Tillich, The System of the Sciences According to Objects and Methods, Lewisburg: Bucknell University Press, 1981, 64.↑
37. Tillich, The System of the Sciences, 131.↑
38. Behne, The Modern Functional Building, 141-142.↑
39. Behne, The Modern Functional Building, 141.↑
40. Tillich, The System of the Sciences, 109.↑
41. Tillich, The System of the Sciences, 107.↑
42. Tillich, The System of the Sciences, 131.↑
43. Tillich, The System of the Sciences, 101.↑
44. Tillich, The System of the Sciences, 130.↑
45. Tillich, The System of the Sciences, 106.↑
46. Tillich, The System of the Sciences, 138.↑
47. Tillich, The System of the Sciences, 57, emphasis in original.↑
48. Tillich, The System of the Sciences, 57.↑
49. Tillich, The System of the Sciences, 58.↑
50. Tillich, The System of the Sciences, 58.↑
51. Tillich, The System of the Sciences, 58.↑
52. Tillich, The System of the Sciences, 59.↑
53. Tillich, The System of the Sciences, 60.↑
54. Tillich, The System of the Sciences, 58.↑
55. Tillich, The System of the Sciences, 62.↑
56. Phyllis Lambert, Building Seagram, New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013, 115.↑
57. Gevork Hartoonian, The Ontology of Construction: On Nihilism of Technology in Theories of Modern Architecture, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994.↑
58. Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, “Baukunst und Zeitwille” (Building Art and the Will of the Epoch), Der Querschnitt, 4.1 (1924), 31-32, in Neumeyer, The Artless World, 8.↑
59. Lambert, Building Seagram, 102. The original source is the text for the 1977 MOMA exhibition, “The Seagram Plaza: Its Design and Use.”↑
60. Phyllis Lambert, “Mies in America,” in Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Phyllis Lambert, and Werner Oechslin, Mies in America, New York: H.N. Abrams, 2001, 406.↑
61. Thomas H. Beeby, “When the Sacred Journey Ends. Protestant Thought and the Meaning of Puritanical Modern Architecture,” in Renata Hejduk and Jim Williamson (eds.), The Religious Imagination in Modern and Contemporary Architecture: A Reader, London: Routledge, 2011, 13-29, here 26.↑
62. Lambert, Building Seagram, 166.↑
63. Paul Tillich, “The Ideal of Holy Emptiness,” in Hejduk and Williamson (eds.), The Religious Imagination, 337.↑
64. Fritz Schulze, Mies van der Rohe. A Critical Biography, Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1985, 324.↑
65. Tillich, The Future of Religions, 89.↑