The Farnsworth House

Number 18 on my 30 Before Thirty list: done. Visit The Farnsworth House by Mies van der Rohe.

The Farnsworth House

It was beautiful, but SO impractical. There was a lot of client/architect drama between Edith Farnsworth and Mies van der Rohe. Ms. Farnsworth claimed that the house was unlivable (it had almost no storage), and the price skyrocketed as work progressed. Mies took the stance that it was a getaway house and you should have little more with you than a change of clothes, therefore it doesn’t need to be practical.

The Farnsworth House

Still, The Farnsworth House was amazing. It’s constantly under threat of flooding, so go see it sooner than later if you’re able.

23 Responses to “The Farnsworth House”

  1. Kirstin August 18, 2010 at 11:51 am #

    That’s really interesting. I wonder how frequently that happens–the client/architect drama. I’ve read and heard about similar stories with Frank Lloyd Wright. There’s such an artistic component to what they do that I guess their dreams and visions can outweigh the importance of making the client happy.
    Congrats on crossing another one of the list! It looks like a cool place to visit. Incidentally, you’ve inspired me to make my own list. I have until April…

  2. Janice August 18, 2010 at 11:56 am #

    He definitely didn’t follow the ‘form follows function’ school of thought, just the opposite.

    Bravo to you for checking off so many items on your list!

  3. Lisa August 18, 2010 at 12:30 pm #

    I grew up in Plano, the town where this house is found. It was not available to tour until after I moved away, but I visited it last Spring. The tour is excellent and I would encourage anyone to go (you can reserve tickets online). If you have a chance, stop at Suzy’s in Plano on your way home for excellent pizza!

    Anyway, I think it’s important to note that when the Farnsworth was built, there was very little traffic near the site of the house, and the owner’s concerns were more in the nature of being too isolated, as opposed to too visible. (Now, of course, the traffic nearby is much heavier). She did also have practical concerns, like the fact that at night with lights on, the house became a huge attraction for insects. I love the interior of the house and think a more private version of it (i.e., glassy, but not all the way to the floor) would be lovely.

  4. Funnelcloud Rachel August 18, 2010 at 12:42 pm #

    So amazing – as an architect, this is a building that I’ve always wanted to visit in person. Wishing I lived in Illinois right now – so much amazing architecture!

  5. Marie August 18, 2010 at 1:21 pm #

    I’ve been there with my studio class when I was an architecture student and loved it! It’s actually a very cozy house and I could completely see myself living there! There are heated floors and being in the house feels like you are in the middle of the forest!

    Thanks for sharing your experience of the Farnsworth House.

    Marie

  6. Nicole B. August 18, 2010 at 1:24 pm #

    Fun! I am currently (actually, right now, but I am wasting time)writing a book report on Mies. He was a very interesting person. He only worked on commercial buildings after the Farnsworth House. There was even a lawsuit between Dr. Farnsworth and Mies, but it was founded in Mies favor.

    Thanks for sharing… I can’t wait to go on the tour!

  7. Nuit August 18, 2010 at 1:47 pm #

    wow Nicole! you really have done a lot from that list! I’d like to see how it looks now! do you have a lot more things pending???

    I have a pretty long list of things i wanna do before i hit 30 =( good thing I still have a little over a year {yayy}

    xo

    • Making it Lovely August 18, 2010 at 1:51 pm #

      Some of the items on the list are sort of pending… some need to be started! I’m getting a little nervous about finishing them all.

  8. Julie August 18, 2010 at 2:03 pm #

    I was reading Bethenny Frankel’s new cookbook , Skinny Girl Dish, and I noticed she had a fairly simple recipe in the book for a healthier Pad Thai and I thought of you.

  9. Cari August 18, 2010 at 2:33 pm #

    Thanks for sharing this Nicole. I lived near this house when I lived in Chicagoland, but never got to visit. It was so neat looking out in the “middle of nowhere”. Maybe if I ever get back I’ll try to go see it.

  10. Stefi August 18, 2010 at 2:53 pm #

    Did you ever see the WTTW special, Saved From the Wrecking Ball with Geoffrey Bear? It talks about this house.

  11. rachael gregg August 18, 2010 at 5:01 pm #

    Lists like 30 before 30 makes me want to start a list of things to do for the year. I do birthday resolutions instead of new years resolutions. This year, I learned to walk in high heels and enjoy it. go me!

  12. Caroline @ The Feminist Housewife August 18, 2010 at 5:15 pm #

    I’m sure you can do it! ( Get them all done)…and I won’t tell if you are a couple days behind. = )

    What a crazy house! I’d be REALLY pissed if my house didn’t have storage. Haha!

  13. Tatyana August 19, 2010 at 12:47 am #

    As a history of architecture student this is on my list of things to do, as well. There is so much wonderful modern architecture in your area – I will have to make a trip sometime soon just for the architecture.

  14. Holyoke Home August 19, 2010 at 7:39 am #

    Such a beautiful building. I love the stories about clients dealing with a famous architect, and that tender intersection between art and livability.

    Thanks for sharing.

  15. Flora August 24, 2010 at 5:03 pm #

    I’m a new visitor of this blog and couldn’t resist to leave a comment about this wonderful house. It was the first house I study at college and always wanted to go there, unfortunately i live on the other side of the globe (argentina to be more exact). Anyway, I understand the concern of the ex owner, I guess it was like living inside a greenhouse but this is for me more like a work of art rather than a house. Its beauty radicates on its simplicity, from its structure to its lack of inside divisions. Every space flows on the other and on the setting. It flows over the grass and when the near river grows, over the water. Despite the heat, the humidity problems it must have been a pleasure to wake up surrounded by all that nature.

  16. Maggie September 2, 2010 at 9:58 pm #

    I live five minutes from this house! Did you know that Kenny Chesney shot a music video there and Brad Pitt shot an ad campaign in the bedroom of the house? Its pretty incredible to think about. This is such an amazing house.

  17. SaRaH September 9, 2010 at 3:20 am #

    I had to work on this beautiful house on my first year in Architceture school.
    I still have keep the model I made. I always wanted to put this model in a glass box and use it as an side table.
    You’re a lucky one!

  18. Christi April 14, 2011 at 5:04 pm #

    A quick update: I thought you might be interested to know that the talented folks at Lego have added the Farnsworth House to their growing Lego Architecture line. Very nice!

    http://www.architectsjournal.co.uk/news/daily-news/more-amazing-lego-mies-farnsworth-house-released/8613440.article

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