Farnsworth House


We all call him Mies but his full name was Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Similarly Le Corbusier was really Charles-Edouard Jeanneret-Gris but apparently it was the thing to do in the arts at that time; to take on a singular name or pseudonym. Think of Warhol, Dali, Manet, Degas. I guess I should preface these building posts by saying these are generally for those that are not architects but are interested. I add these as they are seminal works and of great inspiration to our work to this day. No doubt all architects will know these buildings however I hope I can add a little bit of information or some quirk and share what I found in my research on the subject.

The Farnsworth House is another one of histories absolute master works. Built between 1945 and 51 it was designed and constructed by Mies for Dr Edith Farnsworth near Plano Illinois, USA. Designed in the International Style it was unwavering in its concept. The house was a weekend retreat on the Fox River with large expanses of glass and zero solid external walls, similar to the Johnson Glass House (refer previous post here) the landscape creates the walls.

The nearby river floods often and the building is under constant threat of pretty severe damage as it has been inundated a number of times, check out these images below. I’m not sure why they don’t move it too higher ground, I doubt anything will be lost in the move if done correctly. A great example is Mies’ Barcelona Pavilion, this was completely dismantled and all the components scattered across the globe and reused in other buildings until someone had the bright idea of finding them all, sending them back and recollecting them to have the building re-constructed… non the wiser.

This house is filled with Mies designed furniture including the ’Barcelona Chair’ that is still made to this day by Knoll and distributed in Australia by DeDeCe, again something all the greats did often in designing the furniture, lights, rugs, door handles and tapestries. Frank Lloyd Wright even designed the crockery and cutlery. They did everything and their clients were totally committed to these architects. Only more recently have architects and other proffesionals relinquished so much in an age of specialisation, a good example of a push against this thinking are SHoP Architects in NY, look them up.

The Farnsworth House is a registered landmark and now operated as an historic house museum and open to the public. Its very high on my bucket list.