12 / CHRONICLESnfarm and there bound him. Thrasymachus scribbled a note:n”Mr, Banker had to do it or die.” This absolution he civillyndeposited in one of Mr. Pierce’s pockets and told the banknmanager that he would be killed, should he leave the barnnin less than half an hour. The pair disappeared. Contrivingnto release himself in a few minutes, Mr. Pierce ran out ofnthe barn in vain pursuit.nYears later, after Frank Pierce’s death, Chief Springernparticipated in a lawmen’s tour of the prison where wasnconfined Machinegun Kelly, reputed author of the St.nValentine’s Day Massacre in Chicago—the extirpation ofnthe O’Banion gang. Kelly told George Springer that “ThenPlymouth job was one of mine. I liked that banker for hisnnerve.” Whether or not this was braggadocio, it was noncasual, masterless man who defeated Frank Pierce.nNever forgiving himself for having opened the safe—nthough no one reproached him—he died of heart failure innan elevator three years later, well before all banks fell tontheir ruin at Franklin Roosevelt’s bank moratorium, flisndeath was my first great sorrow.nHis high virtues were more Stoic than Christian, althoughnhe lacked not charity, either material or spiritual;nsuch habits and customs had run in the family, ever sincenAbraham Pierce had settied at Massachusetts’ Plymouth inn1623. Puritanism among the Pierces had faded to thenshadow of a shade by the 1920’s, my grandfather and hisnA CIVIC PROPOSAL by Frederick ButzennThe year 1986 marked the 100th anniversary of the birthnof Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Mr. Mies (the plumagen”van der Rohe” was invented by him well into his career) isnconsidered by many to be the most influential architect ofnthis century. Schooled in Germany before the First WorldnWar, he worked his way up in the 1920’s through architecturalncircles to become head of the Bauhaus. With thenaccession of Hitler, he abandoned Germany (and hisnfamily, it seems, but that’s another story) and moved tonChicago, where he was named head of the architecturendepartment at Armour histitute, now the Illinois Institute ofnTechnology. From his base at IIT, Mr. Mies and hisnfollowers set out to extend the influence of the WeimarnWeltanschauung throughout the United States. No carpingncritic can deny that he was spectacularly successful; thanksnto Mr. Mies and his followers, the ill-proportioned, overlyndecorated buildings of Louis Sullivan, Daniel H. Burnham,nand John W. Root, to name a few, were replaced withnclean, aesthetic structures of steel and glass.nConsider, for example, the classic Lake Point Tower. Itnwas built in Chicago in the I960’s, from a design by GeorgenSchipporeit, a devoted follower of Mies who inherited hisnpost as head of the department of architecture at IIT. It isnbuilt on a small peninsula that projects into Lake Michigannat the mouth of the Chicago River. Dozens of stories high,nit consists of three residential wings that flow out of anFrederick Butzen works as a technical writer in Chicago.nnnhousehold never attending any church—although thendomestic circle’s ways might have been approved by FreenMethodists, no strong drink ever being drunk nor anyncigarette ever smoked in that commodious bungalow by thenrailroad tracks. There occurred no family prayers and nondomestic sermonizing; all teaching was by example, not bynprecept, and it prevailed. Two or three generations earlier,nthe family’s sojourn in the Burnt-Over Country of northernnNew York, seedbed of strange dissents, seems to have leftnthe Pierces with no dogmata but belief in a divine power, inna life eternal, and in personal rectitude. Tradition, adherencento this tradition, was the sheet-anchor, and it held.nMy grandfather and I, on our long walks westward up anglacial moraine or eastward through the railroad yards to anforgotten ravine (now effaced by the construction of hugenfactories), had conversed unforgettably, a conscience speakingnto a conscience. The old gentleman and the shy boy hadntalked of the notion of Progress, and the iniquities ofnRichard III, and the books in the handsome paneled librarynof the new grade school that Mr. Pierce had built in thenLower Town, and the yearning after immortality, and thensignificance of dreams, and why the sea is boiling hot, andnwhether pigs have wings. Yet it was by example, rather thannthrough discourse, that Frank Pierce had taught his grandsonnwhat it is to be a man.ncentral core, in a “cloverleaf” Its seamless bronze-colorednexterior of steel and glass give it a flawless appearance; that,nand its location, make it one of the most desirable addressesnin Chicago.nMies’s declared purpose in his career was to buildnbuildings that expressed the Zeitgeist, the “spirit of thentime,” using the materials of the age with firm rationality. Itnmust be said, however, that in a way the times are unworthynof Mies and his followers: that despite their best efforts, thenGeist of the Zeit seems inclined more toward chaos thanntoward the triumph of reason for which they have labored.nFor this reason, the creed of Modernism, of which Mies wasnthe firmest advocate, has been challenged by many youngnarchitects.nIt is still possible, however, for the advocates of Modernismnto recover the lead they have let slip, by a bold gesturenthat shows how their architecture is truly the architecture ofnour time. In a bold move to support modern architecture,nthe state of Illinois could purchase Lake Point Tower andnconvert it into a prison.nThe building meets every requirement for the idealnpenitentiary. A prison, first of all, must be large enough tonhouse several hundred inmates in relative comfort, yet bendesigned so that guards can watch them at all times. Thenexits must be isolated and secured in such a way that nonprisoner can gain access to them. Sections of the prisonnmust be isolated from each other, so that it is impossible fornprisoners to seize more than one part of the facility at an