What is it about?

This essay interrogates Mies van der Rohe's Federal Center Courthouse vis-à-vis the events of the Trial of the Chicago Seven, which was held there beginning in 1969. In doing so, the essay reveals how Mies subverted the conventions of courtroom design and consequently disrupted the precise rituals and power relationships that comprise the performance of jurisprudence. Specifically, Mies removed “the bar” from the courtroom space, which typically divides spectators from trial participants, producing a Brechtian estrangement of the courtroom and of trial procedure that played out in the various forms of misconduct that marked the theatrical trial.

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Why is it important?

While many authors have speculated about the political ramifications of Mies van der Rohe's architecture, this essay analyzes a concrete historical example of politics in action inside one of Mies's less recognized buildings.

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This page is a summary of: Who, Mies?, Journal of Architectural Education, January 2019, Taylor & Francis, DOI: 10.1080/10464883.2019.1560795.
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