All eyes will be on Plano, Illinois, the small town nearly 60 miles west of the city that’s home to the Miesian masterpiece Farnsworth House, for the upcoming Chicago Architecture Biennial. Artists Iker Gil and Luftwerk duo, Petra Bachmaier and Sean Gallero, are teaming up to shed new light on the pioneering international style house, lining its underlying geometries with beams of neon laser light. The laser installation, Geometry of Light, will be open to the public from October 11th to 13th for an evening walk-through like no other. Fitted out for a tech- and social media-savvy audience, the neon-saturated installation is sure to bring attention to the Fox River site, as the home will become the next in a series of architectural icons to get the Luftwerk treatment. In 2011, the collective brought a prototype of Geometry of Light to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater for its 75th anniversary. That installation was named INsite, and the artists collaborated with video designer Liviu Pasare and composer Owen Clayton Condon to create an audiovisual study of the house. INsite focused on outlining the building's geometric components and the experience of moving through the lines of the space. An INsite-style study was also conducted independently for the Farnsworth house in 2014. However, the latest iteration of Luftwerk’s fluorescent vision debuted this past February as Geometry of Light was applied to another famous Mies project, the Barcelona Pavilion. Both the Pavilion and the Farnsworth House, with their open, overtly modernist massings, appear to be viewed through an x-ray after Luftwerk's illumination, exposing the bones of the building from a fresh new perspective. The 2019 Farnsworth exhibit will also be enhanced by sound, as a “minimalist” soundtrack will be pumped through the home in sync with the visuals. The installation is a notable part of a wave of recent publicity for the Farnsworth House, as effort mounts to attract attention towards its preservation. Situated on the Fox River floodplain, the property of the modernist monument has been inundated by water several times since 2013, and a debate has erupted amongst preservationists and the home’s current owner over whether to protect the house or to take more drastic measures: relocation. Even though the house sits on stilts, the swampy site presents structural dangers and the stilts may not prove high enough as the flooding is predicted to worsen. “Such are the choices in an era when disastrous '100-year floods' seem to occur every few years,” a spokesperson for The National Trust for Historic Preservation, who have owned and operated the structure since 2003, told the Chicago Tribune. The group even suggested the installation of hydraulic jacks programmed to physically elevate the base of the house when floodwaters rise. Though the Mies-designed home is about an hour-and-a-half drive from the Chicago Biennial's core, Luftwerk’s eye-catching installation is sure to saturate the social media airwaves come this fall.
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After nearly a year of restoration work, Mies van der Rohe’s McCormick House is set to reopen to the public in June 2018. The building is owned by the Elmhurst Art Museum, located in Wilder Park in suburban Chicago. As reported by the Daily Herald, Berglund Construction is completing the $400,000 restoration with the guidance of Elmhurst-based Heritage Architecture Studio and the Elmhurst Art Museum’s Executive Director, John McKinnon. The initial objective of the multiphase restoration plan is the removal of a 1990s corridor addition. Originally located on Elmhurst's Prospect Avenue, the structure was purchased by the Elmhurst Arts Museum in 1992 and was moved to its current location in Wilder Park in 1994. Following the migration, the McCormick House was physically connected to the museum through the construction of an addition. The extension, a series of pavilions connected to the McCormick House via a corridor, was designed by Chicago-based firm DeStefano + Partners, who won the 1998 Design Excellence Award from AIA Chicago for the project. While this addition facilitated movement between the two buildings and was in keeping with Mies’ original design, it obstructed views of his spartan and elegant façade. The one-story McCormick House, composed of glass and steel set upon a concrete slab, was built in 1952 for prominent Chicago inventor and magnate Robert McCormick Jr. and his wife, Isabella Gardner. According to the museum, the McCormick House was meant to serve as a prestigious suburban dwelling for the McCormick family as well as a prototype for prefabricated middle-class homes assembled with the same mass-produced materials, a real-estate project envisioned by McCormick Jr. The large-scale modular development scheme never came to fruition due to a lack of popular suburban amenities, such as air conditioning and a basement. In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, former Executive Director of the Elmhurst Art Museum, Jenny Gibbs, stated that the restoration is intended to establish the McCormick House as a freestanding destination and gallery space, elevating it to a status similar to the Mies-designed Farnsworth House 40 miles to the southwest.
Can you imagine Jeff Bridges playing Ludwig Mies van der Rohe? Of course you can. Luckily, for those who bemusingly can't, a film about the trials and tribulations behind Mies's magnum opus dwelling, The Farnsworth House, is reportedly in the works. Edith Farnsworth, the German architect's client, will be played by Maggie Gyllenhaal and van der Rohe will be played by, you guessed it, Jeff Bridges. Completed in 1951 in Plano, Illinois on the outskirts of Chicago, the house was put onto the National Register of Historic Places in 2004 for its architectural significance. Two years later, it was designated a National Historic Landmark. Open to its natural setting, the elevated glass box and its all-white steel structure was viewed as the epitome of the International Style's ethos. The house, however, has a history of controversy.
Famously bearded Mies became embroiled in a fiasco pertaining to the Farnsworth House's finances during and after its construction and was also rumored to be in a romantic relationship with Edith Farnsworth. (Warning, spoilers below.)
The public dispute came after costs overran by $15,600 (roughly $156,000 in today's money), totaling $74,000. This was down to the rising price of materials; anticipated market demand increased with the Korean War looking more and more likely. In the aftermath, Mies filed a lawsuit for the unpaid sum of around $30,000 in construction costs and service fees. Edith Farnsworth, a reputable Chicago nephrologist, then hit back with a lawsuit of her own accusing Mies of malpractice. It was later deemed by the court that Farnsworth had approved of the ever-inflating budget and she was ordered to pay up the outstanding construction costs.
The debacle, however, left a bitter stain on Mies's career. He and Farnsworth were also heavily rumored to be romantically involved with each other. Mies also referred to the dwelling as the "child" of their relationship. More detail on this can be found here.
According to a source speaking to Showbiz411, “Jeff and Maggie have been looking for another movie to do, and this script really appealed to them.” No dates for the film have yet been disclosed.
Last year artists Petra Bachmaier and Sean Gallero led a collaborative effort to take over Mies van der Rohe's Farnsworth House with kaleidoscopic light and video loops. That project, INsite, followed similar work at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater and Robie House, and imbued Mies' modernist touchstone with a vivacity often lacking in the contemporary experience of midcentury interiors. (Read AN's review of Luftwerk's INsite installation here.) Now that work will live on as a show, INsite ONview, which runs September 11 – November 15 at the Matthew Rachman Gallery in Chicago. Photographer Kate Joyce's images of the original installation will be on display, along with “dynamic, kinetic ephemera based on the installation.” Luftwerk also recently announced they would mount an installation at Chicago's Garfield Park Conservatory. That project, dubbed solarise, opens September 23.
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s archetypal modernist home, the Farnsworth House, is drowning. The banks of the Fox River served as an idyllic setting for the building’s white steel and glass when it landed in Plano, Illinois. But lately the Fox has gone rabid, spilling over its banks three times in the past 18 years. So what to do? Preservationists are looking at installing hydraulic jacks to lift the house during floods, to the tune of about $3 million. Call it the Three Million Dollar Modernist. Ironically Mies put the house on stilts to prevent such flooding; I guess you can’t outwit a wily Fox.
For seven years, Eavesdrop has lived in Chicago without a car and that means we’ve never made the trek out to Mies van der Rohe's Farnsworth House. But with all the flooding in the Midwest this year, we could have just used a boat. Now, a little bird has whispered in our ear that at least one docent is bent out of shape by recent changes. It would appear that the National Trust for Historic Preservation is replacing volunteer docents with paid part-time tour guides. Can you imaging, the desire to pay your help? Quelle horreur! We say: way to go Trust!
Just over four years ago, the Fox River spilled its banks, sending floodwaters into Mies van der Rohe's Farnsworth House and causing significant damage. Built in 1951 and located outside Chicago, the river is again rising, now fully surrounding the stilted abode turned museum, and the house, operated by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, has shared watery photos on its Farnsworth blog, stating: "The house is fully surrounded by river water, but neither the lower deck nor the upper deck has yet to be breached." Water is not expected to enter the house, but all precautions are being taken, including elevating interior furnishings on milk crates.When the site is not flooded, tours of the house are available to the public.
Sarah Morris: Points on a Line The Wexner Center 1871 North High Street Columbus, OH Through April 15 Points On A Line, a 2010 film by artist Sarah Morris, takes two iconic buildings as its central characters, Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House in Illinois and Philip Johnson’s Glass House in Connecticut (above). Commissioned by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which owns both properties, the film is a meditation on the relationship between the buildings—Johnson, an acolyte of Mies and inspired by Farnsworth drawings, happened to complete his New Canaan house first—and the structures as they exist today. But it is the relationship of the architects themselves that becomes Morris’ narrative thread, serving as a springboard to explore their other architectural overlap: Johnson’s glamorized corporate interiors for the Four Seasons, the power-broker restaurant in the base of the Mies-designed Seagram building in Manhattan. Points on A Line underscores how our perception of a space is affected not just by its design but also its mythology.
Virginia Tech's Solar Decathlon-winning Lumenhaus is currently cooling its heals in the opulent surroundings of Millennium Park. The house, which has been touring the globe, was brought to town to coincide with GreenBuild, and is remaining on view through Saturday. The compact house is efficiently designed both in terms of space and energy use, and is completely self-sustaining. Though its stay in Millennium Park will be brief, it's not going far. The house will be stored on the grounds of the Farnsworth House for the winter and will be open to the public when it reopens for the spring season in April 2011. Whitney French, executive director of the Farnsworth House, sees a deep connection between the two structures. "The design is deduced from the ideas of Farnsworth. It's organized around a utility core with broad views out to the landscape," French said. She also points out that Mies' design take advantages of natural cross ventilation and seasonal changes in sun and shade. And while Farnsworth was revolutionary in its day--and is still considered one of the world's great houses--Lumenhaus is decidedly more high-tech, with the latest in sustainable bells and whistles. It also uses more passive techniques, including rainwater retention ponds and passive heating. The interior is bright and open, a model of efficient, contemporary living. The Lumenhaus won't have to compete directly with the Farnsworth in terms of aesthetics, though. It will be situated near the visitors center, some distance from Mies' materpiece. The Lumenhaus is expected to remain at the Farnsworth site until June, 2011.
National Trust for Historic Preservation president Richard Moe announced today that he will retire in the spring of 2010. Moe, 72, is the longest-serving president in the organization’s 60-year history. The legacy of his 17-year tenure will likely be his push to bring historic preservation into the mainstream by revitalizing urban historic districts and promoting the environmental importance of saving aging buildings and structures. "It has been an enormous privilege to be associated with the National Trust over these years," Moe said in a statement on the National Trust’s website. "It has been the most fulfilling professional experience I have ever had.” Moe went on to say that his departure will present an opportunity for the Trust to seek a generational change at a time when its financial base and its programming are on solid ground. Among his proudest achievements as president, Moe listed the organization’s role in preventing construction of a Disney theme park in the historic Northern Piedmont region of Virginia, its 2003 purchase of Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House, and the action it has taken in New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina. Trust chairman Cliff Hudson has established national search committee to find Moe's replacement.