Echoes of Mies Van Der Rohe

In light of the announcement that the BB&T building will be repurposed and remodeled, I thought it would be appropriate to pull this article out of the archives. In the attached video, local architect Mark Allison gives context to the buildings architecture in relationship to both other cities and Asheville itself. Enjoy!

A Commentary on the BB&T Building in downtown Asheville.  

north-west-bank-1965Local Architect Mark Allison was generous enough to send me his new video commentary on the BB&T Building. Enjoy this interesting history into the architectural influences of Mies Van Der Rohe.

The BB&T Building was completed in 1965 as the headquarters for North Western Bank.  It is 18 stories, was built by George Goodyear and designed by D. Gene Whittington.

The BB&T building reflects the International style of Mies Van Der Rohe.  Mies’s thirty years as an American architect reflect a more structural, pure approach towards achieving his goal of a new architecture for the 20th Century.  He focused his efforts on the idea of enclosing open and adaptable spaces with clearly arranged structural frameworks, featuring pre-manufactured steel shapes infilled with large sheets of glass.  His early projects at the IIT campus and for developer Herb Greenwald opened the eyes of Amercians to a style that seemed a natural progression of the almost forgotten 19th century Chicago School style.   His architecture with origins in the German Bauhaus and western European International Style became an accepted mode of building for American cultural and educational institutions, developers, public agencies, and large corporations.

The BB&T building does not live up to some key design principles of Mies as Mark will point out in his video.

Thank you Mark.

Photo courtesy of the Pack Memorial Library

One response to “Echoes of Mies Van Der Rohe

  1. I used to love visiting the Mies buildings in Chicago when I lived there. 880 Lakeshore, the Seagram’s building, every city should have a Mies. Like his work or not, any real study of it will prove him the master of the genre.
    Mark was kind to Asheville’s Mies knock-off.
    As bad as it really is I’m afraid that when it’s renovated it will fall farther into the category of architecture created by a committee of sycophants and yes men.
    Living in Atlanta where there are so few serious buildings, I’m struck by how easy it is to redesign someone else’s ideas and end up with something so weak that it becomes a jarring moment for all viewers either consciously or unconsciously.

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