Periodically, we take a look at iconic glass structures. Today, we look at the Farnsworth House in Plano, IL. The Farnsworth House was designed in 1945 by Mies van der Rohe, but the house was not actually constructed until 1951. Between its design and construction, a model of the house was used as an exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.
Glass and steel characteristic of modernism
The Farnsworth House was commissioned by Dr. Edith Farnsworth, for whom the house is named. The house, which appears to float on a was used as a private residence, until it was purchased in 2003 jointly by two historic preservation groups. The house currently operates as a museum.
Mies van der Rohe was a German-American architect and is considered one of the founders of the modern architecture movement. He strove to create buildings that minimized the structural framework in order to improve the transition between the structure and its surroundings. Mies van der Rohe’s designs often incorporated glass and steel. The Farnsworth House has no interior walls, but it does have structures in the space that imply distinct areas. It also has full length draperies that provide privacy when desired.
The modernist movement followed the conclusion of World War I. Following the war, traditional classical architecture in Europe was unpopular because many people saw it as a reflection of Europe’s faltering class-based societies. Designers were looking for a style that complemented the industrial character of 20th century life, and the modernist style took root.
By the late 1930’s, Mies van der Rohe, who was the last director of the Bauhaus, closed it on the recommendation of the school’s faculty. The Nazis, who had risen to power in Germany, found that the Bauhaus was not sufficiently “German” and made it very difficult for the school to continue. Mies van der Rohe migrated to the United States and took commissions in the western United States and Chicago, where he was the head of the School of Architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology.
Many of Mies van der Rohe’s works incorporate glass liberally, including Crown Hall on the IIT campus; IBM Plaza in Chicago; 860-880 Lakeshore Drive in Chicago; the Chicago Federal Center; the Seagram building in New York City, and the Houston Museum of Fine Arts.
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Photo Credit: jalbertgagnier, via Flickr.com