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The Farnsworth House

Pictures of Modern Houses: The Glass Farnsworth House


1945 to 1951: Glass-walled International Style home in Plano, Illinois, USA. Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, architect. Find facts below
The glass-walled Farnsworth House by Mies van der Rohe

The Farnsworth House by Mies van der Rohe

Photo copyright © Steve Estes
Hovering in a green landscape, the transparent glass Farnsworth House by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe is often celebrated as his most perfect expression of the International Style. The house is rectangular with eight steel columns set in two parallel rows. Suspended between columns are two steel-framed slabs (the ceiling and the roof) and a simple, glass-enclosed living space and porch.

All the exterior walls are glass, and the interior is entirely open except for a wood paneled area containing two bathrooms, a kitchen and service facilities. The floors and exterior decks are Italian travertine limestone. The steel is sanded smooth and painted a gleaming white.

The Farnsworth House took six years to design and build. During this period, Philip Johnson built his famous Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut. However, Johnson's home is symmetrical, ground-hugging structure with a very different atmosphere.

Edith Farnsworth was not happy with the house Ludwig Mies van der Rohe designed for her. She sued Mies van der Rohe, claiming that the house was not livable. Critics, however, said that Edith Farnsworth was lovesick and spiteful.

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