The Lore of Lohan
Edie Cohen -- Interior Design, 3/1/2007 12:00:00 AM
"I'm almost 70 years old, and people still introduce me as Mies's grandson," Dirk Lohan says. Yes, that's despite an international body of work completed during more than four decades of practice.
Lohan was born in Berlin, a few months before Ludwig Mies van der Rohe left Germany for the U.S. "In my early teens, I received black-and-white photos of the Farnsworth House," Lohan recalls. "I made up my mind, thinking, I could do that." It was not until he had graduated from high school that he reunited with his grandfather in Chicago, studying architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology and working part-time at the firm, called simply Mies van der Rohe.
Lohan was working full-time for his grandfather by the mid-1960's, when the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin was being designed and constructed. After his death in 1969, Lohan took over the Chicago practice, which became Lohan Associates. In 2004, he and partner Floyd D. Anderson founded Lohan Anderson.
The firm's specialty lies in commercial architecture—Calamos Investments and the FBI Building in Chicago, Frito-Lay in Dallas, the Four Seasons Hotel Mumbai—as well as in planning and interiors. Lohan sees the work as modernist, to a point. "My aim is to humanize modernism, make it warmer, friendlier," he says.
Still, connections to his grandfather endure. Lohan has restored the Farnsworth House in Plano, Illinois, and the Barcelona Pavilion in Spain. Not to mention that his favorite New York restaurant, the Four Seasons, is at the Seagram Building.