Ludwig Mies was born in Aachen, Germany in 1886. He added on his mother's maiden name, calling himself Ludwig Mies van der Rohe from 1913. Between 1887 and 1900 he trained as a stonecutter under his father at the Aachen Dombauschule. From 1903 to 1904 Mies van der Rohe was employed as a draftsman. In 1905 he went to Berlin and studied under Bruno Paul until 1907. From 1908 to 1911 he was employed in Peter Behrens' architecture practice at the same time as Walter Gropius, Hannes Meyer, and Le Corbusier were working there. He collaborated on designing the German embassy in St. Petersburg (1911) and designed the country house for the couple Kröller-Müller in The Hague.
In 1913 Ludwig Mies van der Rohe founded an architecture practice in Berlin. His designs for high-rise buildings with glass façades attracted a great deal of attention in the 1920s. In 1922 Ludwig Mies van der Rohe joined the "November group". In 1926-1927 Mies van der Rohe organized the Werkbund exhibition, "Die Wohnung" in Stuttgart, which gave rise to the Weißenhof Settlement. For the 1929 World exhibition in Barcelona, he designed the German Pavilion and the "Barcelona" chair as well as a stool and table with an X-shaped frame for it. In 1930 Mies von der Rohe designed the Villa Tugendhat in Brünn and succeeded Hannes Meyer as head of the Bauhaus in Dessau. In 1933 the Bauhaus was forced to close permanently.
In 1937 Ludwig Mies van der Rohe emigrated to the United States where he opened an architecture practice in Chicago. At the same time he became head of the architecture department at the Illinois Institute of Technology. The years that followed saw many masterpieces of the International Modern style built after plans by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, including the Fox River House (1945-1950), Farnsworth House (1946-1951), Illinois, the Lake Shore Drive apartments in Chicago (1948-1951), and the Lafayette Towers in Detroit (1955-1963).
In 1958 he designed the Seagram Building in New York, in 1962 the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin.
As a furniture designer, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe created numerous pieces that are design icons. One of his early chair models resulted from collaboration with the designer Lilly Reich. Ludwig Mies van der Rohe was a leading exponent of the International Modern style and one of the most influental architects and designers of the 20th-century.