Farnsworth House – A Modern Masterpiece

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe was about simplicity, balance, and elegance when it came to the Farnsworth House.

The Farnsworth House is a National Trust Historic Site adjoining the Fox River, south of the city of Plano, Illinois. It is one room, made up of steel and glass, and is a brilliant expression of architecture. Three distinct spatial interfaces were created within a 2,400 square feet plan.

Note: A photo from this collection appears in the book Geometry of Design.

Chair outside the Visitor Center of Farnsworth House.

Arrive 30-minutes [or more] before the start of your guided tour so that you can watch the movie in the Visitor Center.

Walking Path, Farnsworth House

A walk to the Farnsworth House through the woods. You cannot enter the premises without a visitor ticket, which can be purchased at the Visitor Center.

Fox River

Enroute to the Farnsworth House. Flood water has affected the Farnsworth House on several occasions.

First glimpse of the Farnsworth House

The Farnsworth House is elevated five feet on a raised floor platform. Although the house was built on the lot, it has a sense of interconnectedness with the space it resides on.

Farnsworth House

The porch of the Farnsworth House used to have insect screens. Windows used to have roller shades but were damaged by flood waters.

Farnsworth House

The porch and enclosed space of the Farnsworth House are elevated five feet on a raised platform. The five feet height is above the 100-year flood level, which is a 1% probability of a flood event occurring.

Farnsworth House

The openness of the Farnsworth House blends easily with the surroundings. Two slabs form the roof and floor of the house. A third slab is the terrace, an area of transition between the grounds and house. Exposed steel slabs are painted in white.

Farnsworth House

The Farnsworth House is one large room that consists of areas for sitting, cooking, eating, etc. Bathroom and mechanical spaces are enclosed within the core of the house.

Farnsworth House

A guided tour of the Farnsworth House allows one to visit the inside but photography is not permitted unless you signed up for the Guided Interior Photography tour*. You can see the fluid but somewhat defined areas of the house. [Pardon my socks that are reflected on the glass; shoes are not allowed.]

*You will need to purchase an interior photography permit and sign a copy of the photography policy.

Farnsworth House Interior

The house defines an ideal of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe's American career, which is a space that is free of interior support and can be be "zoned" in a flexible manner.

Farnsworth House

The ceiling to floor glass walls in the Farnsworth House creates a seamless indoor-outdoor connection.

Farnsworth House

Large maple trees sit in front of the Farnsworth House. The entrance of the house faces the river instead of the street, which allows the house to reveal itself from different angles as one approaches the entrance.

Farnsworth House

In this photo the Farnsworth House seems to sit by itself on a piece of land. A slightly different angle will prove that the house is extremely connected to its surroundings.

Farnsworth House

"Nature, too, shall live its own life. We must beware not to disrupt it with the color of our houses and interior fittings. Yet we should attempt to bring nature, houses, and human beings together into a higher unity." Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

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