My favourite modernist building … the Farnsworth House

Farnsworth House

The Farnsworth House in Southern Illinois by architect Ludwig Mies van der  Rohe is for me a clear, quiet statement of Modernist architecture. Mies’ vision of a modern shelter is set in a large landscape along the Fox River. Its setting is precise and thoughtful.  The house does not dominate the park-like setting but seems to complement the serenity of the park.

I first tried to visit the house in 1957 when Dr Edith Farnsworth was in residence.  Our party of two carloads of arrogant students drove into the property to visit this serene steel and glass weekend retreat only to be turned away by an angry owner and told, in a no uncertain manner, that if we wished to view a Mies van der Rohe house we should arrange to build one ourselves and that in the meantime we should promptly leave her property!

Fortunately this serene glass and steel weekend house belies its controversial history and its dramatic rescue by preservation groups.

I unfortunately I have not been able to revisit the house since Palumbo bought restored and refurnished and sold the house.

Bill Alington

The “My favourite modernist building …” series is in support of Gordon Wilson Flats which is facing threat of demolition.


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