Farnsworth House. Image Credit: Mike Crews

The Farnsworth House


Visionary Bauhaus architect Mies van der Rohe met Dr. Edith Farnsworth in 1945, at a dinner party in Chicago. She had just purchased a tract of land on the Fox River west of Chicago and hoped he would design a small weekend retreat. He agreed—and the rest, as they say, is history. Completed in 1951, Farnsworth House was immediately hailed as an icon, and perhaps the fullest expression of Mies’ Modernist ideals. Designed of glass and steel, the raised pavilion is nestled into the landscape, floating above the Fox River, which frequently floods the land under the house. This session covers the fascinating personalities and history behind the Farnsworth House, the struggle to save the modernist icon by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the conservation efforts underway and the innovative program and offerings that allow visitors to see the house in new ways demonstrating how a classic can continue to inspire architects, designers, visual and performing artists and tourists for over seventy years.

Hosted by CRAN®.

Learning objectives

  • Compare the personalities and relationships of the architect and owners of Farnsworth House; Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Edith Farnsworth and Lord Peter Palumbo.
  • Identify how glass, travertine and steel came together to create the ultra-minimalist Farnsworth House and the underlying philosophical concepts behind the building.
  • Analyze flood mitigation efforts for Farnsworth House which is located within the floodplain of the Fox River.
  • Compare ongoing conservation projects for the windows, travertine and steel which have failed causing replacements and repairs.

Recorded live on September 16, 2021

This course is part of a series

User rating:
Average: 4.5 (273 votes)
 $45  non-member
 $30  member
1.00 LU
  • HSW
  • RIBA


  • Ashley Wilson Headshot

    Ashley Wilson


    Chief Architect for Historic Sites | National Trust for Historic Preservation

    Ashley Wilson, FAIA, ASID, is an architect with thirty years of experience in historic preservation...