The Farnsworth House is a modern icon and a personal favorite of mine. Designed by the legendary Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886-1969), this timeless structure was completed for Dr. Edith Farnsworth in 1951. The home is a small, one room retreat that hovers just above the ground in a rural Illinois setting. Floor to ceiling windows cover every inch of the exterior walls, punctuated by structural I-beams. The only opaque walls exist in a central core containing the bathroom, kitchen, and utilities closet. The furnishings are minimal and are mostly designed by Mies van der Rohe himself.
The Farnsworth House’s clean lines, structural purity, and simple form are all classic features of mid-century modernism. At this time, removing the traditional clutter of walls, doors, and decoration was entirely unprecedented. As a result, Farnsworth House was famous even before its completion. A model of the home was first exhibited in New York City’s Museum of Modern Art in 1947, four years before the building’s completion. The Farnsworth House has been in countless publications and exhibits since then.
Unfortunately, the home has had several structural problems over the years, most notably its susceptibility to flooding. However, restoration effects are constantly in place, ensuring that the Farnsworth House remains a hallmark of modern architecture for years to come.