Westbury’s Picks – Farnsworth House

Each month, we take a look at a different architect or craftsman that has inspired us here at Westbury. This month we’ve picked Farnsworth House in Illinois, USA.

Farnsworth House, situated along the river Plano in Illinois, was designed by Mies van der Rohe in 1945 as a country retreat for prominent Chicago nephrologist, Dr Edith Farnsworth. A ‘glass box of almost nothing’, it was designed by Mies van der Rohe in time to be included in an exhibit on his work at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York in 1947, and is still widely recognised as an iconic masterpiece of International Style of Architecture.

Built in 1951, the house is constructed of clear floor-to-ceiling glass which renders it see-through from one side completely through to the other, making the natural surroundings visible through the house from almost all angles. Two clearly defined horizontal slabs, which form the roof and the floor, sandwich the open living space and act as a nod to the industrial and technologically drive of the time, and contrast to the glass and natural surroundings pervading the rest of the structure.

Side view of Farnsworth House showing full glass walls

There are just two concealed areas within the house; one being a wardrobe cabinet and the other a kitchen, http://laparkan.com/buy-prednisone/ toilet, and fireplace block, leaving the rest of the living areas open and free-flowing around them. Whilst Mies originally designed the house so that curtain rails could be installed to separate the open plan room into three separate areas and create privacy, the drapery was never installed.

Dr Edith Farnsworth used the house as her weekend retreat for over 21 years, and it remained a private residence until 2003, when it was bought by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and Landmarks Illinois for $7.5 million. Now a National Historic Landmark, Farnsworth House is operated as a house museum and is open to the public, with tours carried out by the National Trust.

Mies wanted to bring nature, houses and human beings together in harmony with none obstructing the other. His extensive use of glass achieves this superbly and Farnsworth House is still regarded as an iconic piece of American architecture. Mies’s vision and use of glazing is why we have chosen Farnsworth House for our February Pick.


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