Archive for the ‘Farnsworth House’ Category

The stock market made manifest in Architecture

Irrational Exuberance

Flat is the new “up”

Top: Disney Hall, Frank Gehry
Bottom: Farnsworth House, Mies van der Rohe

A ’57 Chevy visits the Farnsworth House – video!


Click the arrow to put the video into gear.
The architecture begins after 4:00.

Bye-bye Mies American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee
and fortunately the Farnsworth was dry…

Lord Peter Palumbo, who used to own the Farnsworth House (that is not him in the video), also loved and collected vintage cars. Funny to me how the ’57 car looks so dated and the ’51 house so timeless.

Or, as the man says in the video,

“The house is a basic ’50’s house, and they kind of look good with each other.”

Yeah. A basic ’50’s house. Almost everybody had one, didn’t they?

And who are the unidentified strangers going about their business in the house? The Palumbos? Or the plumbers?


A more transparent Farnsworth House


Amazing. The Farnsworth House with all the furniture and the teak wardrobe at the east end removed. The wardrobe was taken away for restoration after the flood. We get a chance to see Miesian space flow in new ways.

I think Mies didn’t want that cabinetry there, his client Edith Farnsworth convinced him she needed it.

Photos courtesy of Whitney French and Landmarks Illinois. Every historic house should have site manager who is such a good photographer!

Three more photographs here. And you’ll find out how to visit the house, and/or help pay for restoration.

Fall at the Farnsworth


Plan your visit now. 20 – 100 bucks for “Special post-flood” Farnsworth House access. Money raised goes to support the restoration. A lot needs to happen before winter!

It’s lovely in fall, isn’t it? The season and the house remind us that our time on earth is a passage from one state to another. Red, yellow and golden autumn-colored leaves heighten the white of the steel, ceiling and travertine stone, and give it a sheen. As the leaves fall off the branches and alight on the ground, the skeletons of nature and the house become more apparent.

Fixing the Farnsworth after the Flood


Now that it’s dry, the real work begins.

And the Farnsworth House team is blogging it.

(Careful on those travertine steps! )



The Site Manager of the Farnsworth House will offer special tours Wednesdays at 1 pm, at least through October 2008. $100 donation.

On the weekends, for a donation of $50, there will be special docent-led tours. Visitors will experience an expanded standard tour with views of the flood-damaged property and learn about our current restoration efforts.

Help Save the Farnsworth House by Donating Today


And that’s when it’s dry


“I cannot help but note that to enter Mies’ house, you must lift yourself lightly, without stepping on the floor, like the Tibetan Lamas when they levitate.”

Josep Llinas

See the ongoing preservation efforts here.

"Just when you thought it was safe to be a Modern Architect…"


Today in Arts News

Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House is still flooded

and they’re desperately seeking funds to restore and reopen this masterpiece. The house is said to smell like dead fish. The National Trust and Landmarks Illinois would love it if you could please send even $25.

In other Arts News today, a version of a Damien Hirst shark

sold for $17 million dollars.

What’s wrong with this picture? Which one do you think is worth more?

This will break your heart


Click on it to see it even bigger. To see how wet it is inside. I believe this photo was taken on Monday.

The scene is so wicked it reminds me that the Nazis – who didn’t like Mies’ modern architecture of steel and glass – used the word “aquarium” against him.

Help restore the Farnsworth House, here.

Here‘s a blog about the restoration efforts.

The Spiral Jetty of Architecture?


Hang it all. Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House in Plano, Illinois has flooded – again. Tropical Storm Lowell and Hurricane Ike are behind rains pummeling the Midwest.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation has the story. Support the Trust’s house rescue efforts here.

Landmarks Illinois says the house is closed for tours for the rest of the year. You can help them here.

The Chicago ex-urbs around the Farnsworth, fields when it was built, are now very built-up, without enough land left for rainwater to seep into the earth. Combine that with climate change and- in the 60 years since the Farnsworth House was built, it has suffered 7 one hundred year floods.

Is it becoming the Spiral Jetty of architecture?

Update 2 pm Monday: Whitney French, the Historic Site Director writes,

The water has receded to a height of about 4 and a half feet with the expectation that the majority of the site will be drained by late Wednesday or early Thursday. We are working to get restorationists into the house (via boat) to assess the damage and advise on next steps. The furniture was spared with the exception of the wardrobe. The core took a bit of a hit, but we are optimistic that the appropriate drying technique can spare us some heartache.


Poetry and Architecture


Me, I’m a minimalist.

And I’ve always liked the spare poetry of Kay Ryan.
Today she was named the 16th Poet Laureate of
the United States.
Congratulations Kay Ryan.
A poem of hers, reminds me of a place I like.

Shark’s Teeth

Everything contains some
Silence. Noise gets
Its zest from the
Small shark’s tooth-
Shaped fragments
Of rest angled in it. An hour
Of city holds maybe a minute of these
Remnants of a time
When silence reigned, compact and dangerous
As a shark. Sometimes a bit of a tail
Or fin can still
Be sensed in parks.

Reminds me of this “rhyme”

Mies’ great Farnsworth House, a retreat from the city,
“compact and dangerous”
and Damien Hirst‘s shark.