Monday, September 22

Farnsworth House

The far-reaching devastation from a natural disaster is astonishing. Over 1 million people in the Houston area are still without power, Galveston Island remains desolate and local residents are in short supply of food, water and ice. Further afield, the rains from the remnants of Hurricane Ike flooded the historic Farnsworth House in Illinois. The house will be closed to the public for the remainder of 2008 for repairs.

Architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe designed the iconic and controversial house for Dr. Edith Farnsworth, a prominent Chicago-based kidney specialist. The two met at a dinner party in 1945 and soon began discussing the idea of Mies building a small and architecturally significant weekend retreat to be located on rural riverfront property that Farnsworth had purchased from the host of the dinner party, Robert McCormick.

The design was finished by 1946 and was enthusiastically approved by Dr. Farnsworth. Mies developed the plans in time for it to be included in an exhibit on his work at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1947. However, Dr. Farnsworth became increasingly dissatisfied with the construction of the house and Mies' refusal to incorporate her suggestions. Further, Dr. Farnsworth's outrage was compounded by the fact that the house went far over budget. She later brought a lawsuit against Mies.


In April 1953, House Beautiful magazine weighed in on the lawsuit and published a scathing editorial, attacking the work of Mies van der Rohe and other followers of the International Style. The modern designs were described as a "Threat to the New America." The magazine insinuated that Communist ideals lurked behind the design of these "grim" and "barren" buildings.

Today, the 1,500-square-foot house is widely recognized as an iconic masterpiece of modernist architecture. The home was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2006, after being placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004.

5 comments:

Mary-Laure said...

Oh my God. Mies van der Rohe is my favorite architect. There's something about his designs that is so pure yet so human... Thanks for these beautiful pics.

Pigtown-Design said...

I've heard and read a lot about this interesting house, but didn't realize that it was flooded during the northern portion of Ike. I did hear that Chicago got hammered, too!

Be the change..... said...

Poor Farnsworth house, it was just damaged a few years ago by flooding!! They need to move it to higher ground, although I know that would ruin the entire look of the house.

{ Becca } said...

That is beautiful!

Ivy Lane said...

Is there a way to donate to help with the repairs? I love this home and have read many articles etc. about it's history ...