Mies Memorial Library

much more than an architecture competition for students
Submit until Jan 28th

The Mies Memorial Library. A building not only meant to preserve, but also to celebrate the life, works and legacy of Mies van der Rohe. A building which this challenge invites you to envision and design.

Mies’s vision

Becoming the director of the Bauhaus would have been the pick of a career for many architects, however, for Mies it was only the beginning. By the time the Nazis forced the Bauhaus to close, he had already designed such iconic buildings as the Barcelona Pavilion or the Tugendhat House, yet some of his best works were still to come.

Mies left Germany and emigrated to the US in 1937, looking for a more favorable environment to develop his ideas and push architecture forward to meet the standards of modern society and the modern world.

Mies believed his ideas could be translated into an architectural language that could objectively be taught and learned, and that this language could be applied, and give an appropriate solution, to any type of building.

Spoken languages have dictionaries, and in the case of Mies’s architectural language, we have thousands of drawings, sketches, models, letters, articles and more, each a small but crucial piece when it comes to fully understanding his life, his work, his vision, and his legacy.

The challenge

Mies’s drawings, letters and articles are all well preserved. He made sure himself by donating over eighteen thousand pieces of his work to the Museun of Modern Art (MoMA). Other collections of his works also live at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Library of Congress in Washington D.C, at the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal or inside de Crown Hall itself at the IIT.

All these pieces are safe and sound. However, there’s a difference between preservation and celebration, and we believe Mies’s work deserve to be celebrated.

For the sake of this challenge, we are going to consider that the IIT is planning to make a move to bring many of those pieces back to its campus to establish the new “Mies Memorial Library”. A building not only meant to preserve, but also to celebrate the life, works and contributions of one of the founding fathers of modern architecture. A building that will look into the future without forgetting the past. A building capable of encouraging young architects to be ambitious and remind the established ones to never settle. A building which this challenge, if you choose to do so, invites you to envision and design.

A fair, true learning experience

Direct feedback

The jury will provide individual feedback for each project, in order for participants to understand what they did well and what they could have done better.

Open debate

All participants will be invited to participate in an ongoing, open and transparent debate both during the competition and once the winners are announced.

Fair & Inclusive

To guarantee that all students have the same opportunity to participate, entry fees will be adjusted per country, with additional discount options available.


NOMO Studio

After working for OMA, BIG, ShigeruBan, MVRDV and more, Alicia and Karl now run NOMO STUDIO from Barcelona and Stockholm.

Baukunst Academy

Having taught at the IIT, Tulane, ETSAB, UBA an more, Eugenia and Iñaki now run Baukunst Academy where they share their passion for modern architecture and Mies in particular.

Cristina Gastón

Her thesis titled “Mies and the awareness of the surrounding” was awarded the IV Thesis Award by the Fundación Caja de Arquitectos and the Extraordinary Doctorate Award by the UPC in 2003.
Why participate
To design without the pressure of grades

Sometimes, when working on a studio project at school, students find themselves not being able to fully express their ideas. The pressure of grades, sometimes pushes students to play it “safe”, and design what they think their teachers want to see, instead of the ideas they would really like to explore.

Academic competitions are a great opportunity to try those design ideas you’ve always loved without the pressure of failing a class.

To build your portfolio

Many students don’t feel truly represented by their school portfolios. In part because when you are student you are constantly evolving, and a project you worked on just last year might not represent your skills today, and in part as well due to the fact that you might have been working on those projects with grades in mind, without being able to fully show your true colors.

Participating in an academic competition can be an opportunity to finally work on that flagship project that you can really feel proud off and that will make your portfolio stand out amongst the rest.

To receive unbiased feedback

When the jury looks at a project, they don’t know who’s it’s from, they don’t know who you are, where you are from, how you look or what you’ve designed in the past. They will give you their honest opinion regarding your architectural design alone.

To see how students from other schools and countries approach the same project

In architecture, unlike math, where 2+2 always equals 4, there is no one single correct solution to a given problem. That is why learning from what has worked in the past in other projects is so important. That is why in architecture schools we see studio classes where everyone gets to see everyone else’s projects, instead of one on one sessions with a tutor, so that students can learn from one another.

Now, if seeing how a handful of classmates approached the same brief you were given can be a powerful learning experience, imagine how enriching it could be to see how hundreds of students, from different schools, countries, cultures and backgrounds, solved a common brief.

To work with your dream team

You are free to choose the team you want to work with, or to work by yourself. Many times, in studio classes you can be pared with students you don’t necessarily share much in common with, and that can make it complicated to work together. When joining an academic competition you can choose who you want to work with. As long as they are students it doesn’t matter if they are not on your same class or even study at your same school.

To gain exposure as a future architect

Results of academic competitions are picked up by the media. These days, digital media in particular, can help you get noticed by studios around the world, many of which are always looking to hire great talent.

You never know where the next great opportunity might come from, but one thing is for sure, if you don’t get yourself out there, how are these opportunities supposed to find you?

To familiarize yourself with how professional competitions work

Competitions are how most important projects are awarded in the professional world. Big studios participate in competitions all the time, and if you want to work at well-known firm or want to establish your own, chances are you will be involved in the process.

Being successful in a competition requires a whole set of skills, which many times are not taught at architecture schools. Academic competitions can be a great way to familiarize yourself with what it will take to be successful in professional competitions.

We are excited to have you here and can’t wait to dive into the amazing world of Mies with you and see what you come up with for this brief!

with the support from