Farnsworth House, Illinois, USA


Ludwig Mies, who was frequently called by his surname Mies was a German architect born in 1886. Ludwig Mies began his career as an architect as an apprentice. His talent was quickly recognised. He began to receive independent commissions for work, and he started designing upper class homes. Along with other prominent architects Mies is regarded as one of the pioneers of modern architect. Ludwig Mies sought after establishing a style of architecture that would symbolize modern times just as Gothic style and Classical style of architect did for their eras.

His lifelong mission was to create a new language of architectural style to represent the new era. The master architect created a twentieth century style that expressed clarity and simplicity. Every detail of his architecture supported his efforts to express the modern era. He used modern materials to define interior spaces such as plate glass and industrial steel. Through his architecture he strived for minimal framework and free open spaces.

Design and Construction

Ludwig Mies designed and constructed the 1500 square foot Farnsworth House, which is in the state of Illinois. The glass house was to be a retreat for Edith Farnsworth. This small masterpiece showed the world that modern materials such as steel and plate glass were capable of creating a structural design with immense impact. The glass pavilion sits next to the Fox River, encircled by forests and prairies. The structure features a highly crafted white frame with walls that are constructed in floor to ceiling glass. The interior space is rectilinear allowing for light and nature to envelope the inside space. The house is commonly recognised as an iconic masterwork of style. The structure has been described as an inspirational work of art.


The Farnsworth House was built in the city of Plano in 1951 for a well-known Chicago doctor. Edith Farnsworth retained Mies to design a special and articulate work of architecture. It was a one-room retreat in what was at one time a rural setting where the doctor could go to enjoy nature, play the violin and engage in hobbies. Ms. Farnsworth continued to use the house as a weekend place for the next 21 years. She would often host parties for notable architects to show off her house and the internationally famous architect. She sold the home in 1972 to a British architectural admirer Peter Palumbo. After owning the property for 31 years, Palumbo put the property up for sale.

Current Use

In 2004, The Farnsworth House was sold at auction to a historic preservation group for approximately 7.5 million dollars. It is currently owned by the National Trust Preservation and is operating as a public house museum. In 2006, the Farnsworth House achieved the designation of a National Historic Landmark, after joining the National Register in 2004. In 2008, the house was flooded and the house was closed for repairs for the remainder of the year. In the spring of 2009 the house reopened to the public. The building has influenced the creation of several hundred glass houses. The most notable being the glass house near New York City by architect Phillip Johnson. This glass house is now also owned by the Trust Preservation.