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  7. AD Classics: The Farnsworth House / Mies van der Rohe

AD Classics: The Farnsworth House / Mies van der Rohe

AD Classics: The Farnsworth House / Mies van der Rohe
AD Classics: The Farnsworth House / Mies van der Rohe

AD Classics: The Farnsworth House / Mies van der Rohe AD Classics: The Farnsworth House / Mies van der Rohe AD Classics: The Farnsworth House / Mies van der Rohe AD Classics: The Farnsworth House / Mies van der Rohe +10

  • Architects

  • Location

    14520 River Rd, Plano, IL 60545, United States
  • Architect

    Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
  • Client

    Dr. Edith Farnsworth
  • References

    Zimmerman, Claire. Mies Van Der Rohe. Taschen America Llc, 2006. Print. and www.farnsworthhouse.org
  • Project Year

    0

From the architect. The Farnsworth House, built between 1945 and 1951 for Dr. Edith Farnsworth as a weekend retreat, is a platonic perfection of order gently placed in spontaneous nature in Plano, Illinois. Just right outside of Chicago in a 10-acre secluded wooded site with the Fox River to the south, the glass pavilion takes full advantage of relating to its natural surroundings, achieving Mies' concept of a strong relationship between the house and nature.

The single-story house consists of eight I-shaped steel columns that support the roof and floor frameworks, and therefore are both structural and expressive. In between these columns are floor-to-ceiling windows around the entire house, opening up the rooms to the woods around it.

The windows are what provide the beauty of Mies' idea of tying the residence with its tranquil surroundings. His idea for shading and privacy was through the many trees that were located on the private site. Mies explained this concept in an interview about the glass pavilion stating, "Nature, too, shall live its own life. We must beware not to disrupt it with the color of our houses and interior fittings. Yet we should attempt to bring nature, houses, and human beings together into a higher unity." 

Original plan
Original plan

Mies intended for the house to be as light as possible on the land, and so he raised the house 5 feet 3 inches off the ground, allowing only the steel columns to meet the ground and the landscape to extend past the residence. In order to accomplish this, the mullions of the windows also provide structural support for the floor slab. 

The ground floor of the Farnsworth House is thereby elevated, and wide steps slowly transcend almost effortlessly off the ground, as if they were floating up to the entrance. Aside from walls in the center of the house enclosing bathrooms, the floor plan is completely open exploiting true minimalism. 

Sketch
Sketch

With the Farnsworth house constructed about 100 feet from the Fox River, Mies recognized the dangers of flooding. He designed the house at an elevation that he bellieved would protect it from the highest predicted floods, which are anticipated every hundred years.

In 1954 the river rose six feet above the one-hundred-year-mark and flooded the house. However, Mies was not able to anticipate the increase in water runoff caused by the development in the Chicago area which led to more floods. Current research states that the interior of the house has received flood waters on 6 occasions, beginning in 1954 and becoming more frequent having also flooded in 1996,1997, and just recently in 2008. 

Although there were some problems with the maintenance of the house due to flooding and livability of the design that involved complaints about the poor ventilation of the interior as well as cost overruns, there is no doubt that the Farnsworth House is the essence of simplicity in its purest form. The brilliance in its artistic design became the inspiration for other works, such as Philip Johnson's Glass House. 

The man-made geometric form creates a relationship the extraneous landscape surrounding it to exemplify "dwelling" in its simplest state. As Mies stated on his achievement, "If you view nature through the glass walls of the Farnsworth House, it gains a more profound significance than if viewed from the outside. That way more is said about nature---it becomes part of a larger whole." 

Cite: Adelyn Perez. "AD Classics: The Farnsworth House / Mies van der Rohe" 13 May 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed . <http://www.archdaily.com/59719/ad-classics-the-farnsworth-house-mies-van-der-rohe/>
Read comments

40 Comments

Eszter · January 11, 2016

It is indeed beautiful, but I heard the one it was built for felt so damn uncomfortable in it, she became deeply depressed. No wonder... It is wonderful yes, but I guess we always need a little privacy. So it is rather art then a real building where someone can actually live. I guess with this his thoughts about bringing nature closer to people through this house just remains a dream.
Seriously, I would be super scared in this house at night haha.

ertcoARCH · June 07, 2012

AD Classics: The Farnsworth House / Mies van der Rohe http://t.co/q9etpmhH via @archdaily

Nozomi Kobayashi · March 28, 2012

AD Classics: The Farnsworth House / Mies van der Rohe | ArchDaily http://t.co/7Ua7G8gu @archdaily

Mario Cebollada · March 28, 2012

AD Classics: The Farnsworth House / Mies van der Rohe | ArchDaily http://t.co/5JjIXqAa vía @archdaily

Jairo Arango · March 28, 2012

One of my favorites. Where/when everything started (for me). AD Classics: The Farnsworth House / Mies van der Rohe | http://t.co/wZg418b0

Tamara Alassaf · March 28, 2012

AD Classics: The Farnsworth House / Mies van der Rohe | ArchDaily http://t.co/F9IQHqZk via @archdaily Beautiful classic, timeless <3

Fredrik Toller · March 27, 2012

Congrats Mies. I visited your house last year, awesome. http://t.co/LIVFPTyF

Rafael B. · March 27, 2012

Um clássico do tio: http://t.co/oa8W3oI5

Lise Vabø · February 14, 2012

revisit to one of my favorites - Farnworth House by Mies http://t.co/rEiicOiu #genius #architecture

ppriolo · February 06, 2012

@ArchDaily Classics: The Farnsworth House / Mies van der Rohe (1945-51). http://t.co/KnjhKhdZ

Marco · January 09, 2012

Parallels and perpendicular steel columns, glass, nature all around...that&#39s what Mies van Der Rohe needed for a... http://t.co/kIDcCawi

Marco · January 09, 2012

Parallels and perpendicular steel columns, glass, nature all around...that&#39s what Mies van Der Rohe needed for a... http://t.co/1bqKamhz

Marco · January 06, 2012

A #mcm #architecture classic: The Farnsworth House / Mies van der Rohe! http://t.co/GQT9gjAI Please RT

Marco · January 06, 2012
Marco · January 06, 2012
Ahsan · December 26, 2011

Great architectural work but poor site planning.

Scott Sowers · December 21, 2011

Mies Sometimes Underwater : http://t.co/uDryAvKW

JG_Architect · December 20, 2011

Omdat dit huis nooit verveeld. http://t.co/voIvvoi4

Scott, Cox & Assoc. · December 13, 2011

Check out the flooding pix. The Farnsworth House / Mies van der Rohe http://t.co/5jkairBx via @archdaily

Dash · December 13, 2011

Check out the flooding pix. The Farnsworth House / Mies van der Rohe http://t.co/JFWVoGiR via @archdaily

Ariff Ashman · November 07, 2011

AD Classics: The Farnsworth House / Mies van der Rohe | ArchDaily http://t.co/UxDtgd0x via @archdaily

l.r.smer · October 18, 2011

No matter how well you know (or think you know) Mies van der Rohe&#39s Farnsworth House, it&#39s always worth revisiting: http://t.co/9QhYHUCV

Jason House · October 18, 2011

No matter how well you know (or think you know) Mies van der Rohe&#39s Farnsworth House, it&#39s always worth revisiting: http://t.co/9QhYHUCV

rccarvalho · October 16, 2011

AD Classics: The Farnsworth House / Mies van der Rohe | ArchDaily http://t.co/DFrNfGn4 via @archdaily

WARE ASSOCIATES · October 01, 2011

AD Classics: The Farnsworth House / Mies van der Rohe | ArchDaily http://t.co/7iawjsot via @archdaily

gani zakaria · September 22, 2011

AD Classics: The Farnsworth House / Mies van der Rohe | ArchDaily http://t.co/CsvZ6DZL via @archdaily FIRST

Sharon Moore · September 11, 2011

Revisiting a gorgeous mid-century modern house by Mies van der Rohe: http://t.co/Fbau0AC. Thanks @ArchDaily!

Rafael B. · September 08, 2011

Baita casa. :) http://t.co/GDpF8is

rue4e · August 29, 2011

AD Classics: The Farnsworth House / Mies van der Rohe | ArchDaily http://t.co/07ppEAQ via @archdaily

Santi Maggio Savasta · August 22, 2011

AD Classics: The Farnsworth House / Mies van der Rohe | http://t.co/leX6kVv #Architecture #Architettura

Johny Fabio · August 22, 2011

Hoje lembrei de Mies...http://t.co/licZ8YN

StudioPro_Arquitetos · August 20, 2011

Um dos clássicos de Mies van der Rohe. http://t.co/gxsEPXr

Tailini Caminha · June 24, 2011

AD Classics: The Farnsworth House / Mies van der Rohe | ArchDaily http://t.co/lFbWdXi via @archdaily

Tomas Vazquez · November 12, 2010

http://lnkd.in/xaUQaV Touch of classics... cos less is more

Tomas Vazquez · November 12, 2010

http://lnkd.in/xaUQaV #architecture #design Touch of classics... cos less it´s more

tomás · May 15, 2010

been here about two months ago (march 20th). Great experience! We went all the way from Madrid to Chicago for a study trip and this was the first piece of architecture we saw. Nothing compared to how you see it in pictures! Being there is something so different. We were lucky that it snowed a lot that day, and the landscape and views from inside the house were precious...

Jesse Lockhart-Krause · May 15, 2010

Its a shame about the size of the images! (only 500pix), I was hoping to store them away as reference material, I can barely read the plans.

Bummer.

up_today_arch · May 14, 2010

It is my dream visit there...

Ian Siegel · May 14, 2010

yep, a studio buddy and i coined the term "archigasm" for moments like those

Chiaro Scuro · May 14, 2010

Visited during 2nd year of Arch school...

my first Architectural orgasm.

···

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