This picture is special. For a long time I learned about the Barcelona Pavilion by Mies van der Rohe, and built up a hard crust of hatred for it. Why? Because it was idolized, because everyone copied it, because it was so elite (chrome columns and travertine marble?), because it was so, ug, nothing! Instructors have made so much of it in my architectural past, that I was determined to hate it just because they loved it.
I wanted to hate it, in fact, we almost skipped seeing it while in Barcelona. Finally though, we paid our entry to the grossly overweight 'guard' and went inside. My first cursory examination seemed to confirm what I wanted to feel. It's just a stupid building, hardly what could be considered an impressive space.
As I started taking photos (grudgingly, as I was determined not to like it), I started noticing the reflections between the highly-glossed marble, the water, and the glass. The chrome columns disappeared, just as all my instructors told me they would, in a single line of reflection and refraction that rendered them nearly invisible. The distinction between outdoors and indoors blurred, and the tree-shadow light dappled in from outside.
The single statue seems so beautiful, so achingly lovely, in her pose of half-movement caught still. Suddenly I felt like I belonged in this space, like it was designed just for me. I wanted to shut the door and lounge on one of the barcelona chairs gracing the interior, and just enjoy the sunlight and distant voices coming from outside.
Ultimately the Barcelona Pavilion is the most overrated and the most underrated building I've ever been to and hence it delivers on every single one of it's promises. Outside of the experience it's all hype and abstract theory and stifling architectural rules about minimalism. Inside of the experience, it radiates peace, balance, and a deep sense of personal belonging.
Congrats, Mies... you won me over.