Farnsworth House – Mies van der Rohe

Seemingly like the other architects I know in Chicago, a few years back I made my way to the Farnsworth House in Plano. I mean it was so heavily hyped in architectural history classes and as a modern masterpiece that I couldn’t not go.

I should have stayed home. It’s Mies, so it’s beautifully stripped down and well detailed – but he stripped the soul out of what a house should be. It becomes too cold in its search for perfection. The porch, floor, and roof planes – while a nice gesture and an attempt to deal with the occasional flooding of the site – end up serving to make the glazed connection to the surroundings a hollow gesture. It was nice to visit, but at the end of the day there is another Mid-century modern house with great detailing, excellent connection between interior and exterior, and includes the warm feeling of a home – Saarinen’s Miller House in Columbus. I swear, I’m not biased.

When your client hates living in the house you designed for her and sues you, you probably missed the mark. Still, as an architectural object there is beauty in the details, overall form, and the floor plan. Below are additional pictures of the Farnsworth House and there will be a longer post next week – perhaps even another painting or Columbus post.

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Josh Mings

Architect and painter. Columbus, IN born, New Orleans educated, Chicago living and trying to leave the world better than I found it.