Architect: Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
Address: 969 E. 60th St.
Since 1965, the School of Social Service Administration (SSA) has been housed in one of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s most important civic and architectural contributions to the city of Chicago. The building, most notable for its enormous lobby and glass-paneled exterior, brings individuals inside and outside of the building together, truly evoking the school’s intellectual mission.
Horizontality and Visibility
The building Mies designed for SSA is predictably low slung and transparent, making no attempt to adapt to its surroundings. In some ways, SSA benefits from the partial horizontality of the nearby Eero Saarinen Law School complex.
While Mies’s SSA building seems heedless of the vertical dominance of the rest of the campus, it represents a pristine and self-contained work of art that would command a presence no matter where it was sited. It can be perceived less as a horizontal building than one that defies gravity in the way its floors float within the spare steel frame. It has no courtyard, but the large glass lobby creates an unmistakably protected space. It also does what quadrangles do elsewhere on campus, which is open itself to distant views, in this case across the Midway.
Since 1919, the School of Social Service Administration has been accredited by the Council on Social Work Education, and has earned top spots on both domestic and international social work graduate school lists. SSA distinguishes its casework curriculum, 37 accomplished faculty members, highly lauded masters and doctoral degree programs, and network of programs, institutes, and centers.