The Farnsworth House
October 1, 2010
“I don’t want to be interesting. I want to be good.” -Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
A friend alerted me with joy that he had just purchased a new car. This inspired me to talk him into taking the car out for a quick road trip. Almost immediately, he picked me up in an adorable German-powered sports coupe, top down. Within minutes, we were out of the Chicago city limit, heading toward Plano, Illinois.
The Land of Lincoln may be Illinois’s state slogan, but our drive wanted to scream out and rename it “The Land of Expressways and Its Friends the Toll Booths.” Buzzing through the changes of different routes, we finally arrived at The Farnsworth House visitor center.
A vast field of soybeans sweetly greeted me, and I later learned it was partially responsible for supporting the upkeep of the house. Entering through a humble A-frame track shelter, I was thrown into a small eager tour group. After a simple warm hello nod, I quickly discerned they were mostly designers and architects: dressed not too pretty, but in shades of white and dark.
With a swift pace, mostly running from the zapping bugs, we crossed a nearby stream that flows into the river, which cuts across the front of the house. Although it was built on the 200-year flood line, the house was once severely damaged by a flood. As the river itself became visible, the house entered my sight. It waited for me humbly and simply. Painted in white, the steel-framed structure seemed to float over the lawn while peaking out from the tall trees.
The entrance platform is ever so graceful and dramatic: a small version of IIT’s entrance. As I live in one of Mies’s designs, I understand the beautiful and graceful entrance. Its scale is ever so calming and grand, which makes one desire to be quiet.
The open floor plan truly works here, as the house was designed for a single person. Within the structure here are places for privacy, as well some meditative features. Although the house was built specifically for a specific person and her lifestyle, the design details and concept still live on and have inspired many great designers, and I hope more in the future.
The road trip was a worthwhile activity—I wish everyone had the option in order to escape predictable routines.
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