Lonely Planet review
Famed architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe designed many of the campus' modern buildings. Download a free map for DIY wanderings. Better yet, docents lead 90-minute tours (10am Monday to Friday, 10:30am Saturday and Sunday); departure is from the welcome center in the McCormick Tribune Campus Center. The center also rents audio tours (same price) from 10am to 3pm.
A world-class leader in technology, industrial design and architecture, the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) owes much of its look to Mies van der Rohe, who fled the Nazis in Germany for Chicago in 1938. From 1940 until his retirement in 1958, Mies designed 22 IIT buildings that reflected his tenets of architecture, combining simple, black-metal frames with glass and brick infills. The look became known as the International Style. The star of the campus and Mies’ undisputed masterpiece is SR Crown Hall , appropriately home to the College of Architecture. The building, close to the center of campus, appears to be a transparent glass box floating between its translucent base and suspended roof. At night it glows from within like an illuminated jewel.
Mies isn’t the only architectural hero whose works are on display at IIT. In 2003 the campus opened two other buzz-worthy buildings. Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas designed the McCormick Tribune Campus Center with its simple lines and striking en-tubing of the El tracks that run overhead. This is Koolhaas’ only building in the USA. Just south of the Campus Center is the Helmut Jahn–designed State Street Village . Jahn studied at IIT in his younger days, and his strip of rounded glass-and-steel residence halls is a natural progression from the works of the modernist bigwigs he learned from while here.