6:00pm EDT September 8, 2022

Exhibition Opening: Harry der Boghosian Fellow 2021-22

LESS IS…names an ongoing ambition by Harry der Boghosian Fellow Leen Katrib to deconstruct the myth surrounding Mies van der Rohe’s proposal for IIT’s post-WWII modernist campus expansion. In collecting and reconstructing materials that are not included in “official” Miesian historiography, Katrib’s exhibition contributes to a counter-historiography that highlights Miesian modernism’s entanglement in social, racial, and bureaucratic realities. More specifically, Katrib seeks to highlight the ways in which IIT not only shaped subsequent discursive and pedagogical agendas in architecture, but also how it commenced a pattern of post-WWII university campus expansions into vulnerable neighborhoods that continue to this day.

LESS IS… deconstructs Mies’s 1941 flattened photomontage of the campus expansion proposal to reveal the complex and co-authored mechanics behind the campus expansion and the material record that was literally, figuratively, and necessarily suppressed—all in the name of progress. The vehicle of that suppression was the tabula rasa which was enacted by an “apolitical” architect intent on creating an “apolitical” architecture. Taking its cues from the very spatial and ordering systems that govern Mies’s master plan—the 24-square-unit grid and flattening—LESS IS… reveals the very materials, narratives, and people that were suppressed, hidden, and covered over by the creation and maintenance of the Miesian myth adopted as official history.

Ultimately, LESS IS… “looks backward” to offer a corrective to those architects “looking forward” to future university campus expansion projects.