Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s “The New Era” (1930)

Modernist Architecture

Translated from the German by Philip

Johnson.  From Mies van der Rohe.

(Museum of Modern Art.  New York, NY: 1947).

• • •

[Speech delivered at a Werkbund meeting in Vienna]

The new era is a fact: it exists, irrespective of our “yes” or “no.” Yet it is neither better nor worse than any other era.  It is pure datum, in itself without value content.  Therefore I will not try to define it or clarify its basic structure.

Let us not give undue importance to mechanization and standardization.

Let us accept changed economic and social conditions as a fact.

All these take their blind and fateful course.

One thing will be decisive: the way we assert ourselves in the face of circumstance.

Here the problems of the spirit begin.  The important question to ask is not “what” but “how.” What goods we produce or what tools we use are

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