New York, NY

It is said that Architecture moves too slowly. Perhaps the lagging profession has something to learn from the overnight identity transforming procedures of plastic surgery. Mies van der Rohe’s Seagrams Building, epitomizing late Modernism’s embrace of Fordist repetition, is taken as a case study. Could a strategy of modification rejuvenate this aging trophy to let it stand alongside Manhattans newest starlet towers?


A Post-Fordist Nip ‘n Tuck

‘Lifting Mies is a catalog of such surgical procedures that operate directly on Mies’ canonical decorative I-beam. The techniques eschew the addition of unnecessary material, the conventional approach to ornamentation, and instead rely on the alteration of what exists– as a facelift would. No longer identifiable as something dispensable and separate from the restructured body, surgery allows ornamentation to evade easy recognition, just as the ideal facelift transforms one’s identity without revealing the work of the surgeon. By cutting, reshaping, and stitching, surgical techniques make ornament essential to the body, and the pace of New York image-making.


Modification #7; Web center split, rotation against weak axis


Modification #12; Web twist, Rotation against strong axis


Modification #15; Web center-split, Perpendicular expansion


Modification #21; Web and flange displacement

in collaboration with Jonathan Lott