The Eye of the Fish

Leviathan
May 20, 2020

Farnsworth all at sea

Too good an opportunity not to write about: Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s house for Mrs Farnsworth is once again under water, as the Fox River flooded yet again.

So: not quite all at sea, as it is a river, but entertaining none-the-less. Seen like this, I think we can honestly say it looks twice as good.

Here it is under construction – the purest expression of structure. Steel legs just concreted into the ground – never really a good idea, but hey, it looks seamless. The article in Stuff (from the Chicago Tribune) notes that the preservationists that bought the house are still arguing how to save it – should they put it on hydraulic rams to lift it free of the tide when the river runs wild? Currently, it rests so lightly on the ground – look here at the detail where the steps land on the side deck – with the most delicate of touch.

Above all it is / was a place for a quiet contemplation of nature amongst the trees. We always see pictures of the outside – rumour had it that Mrs Farnsworth found she really couldn’t live in it as there was no privacy, but that’s a small price to pay for architectural perfection.

Here’s the front porch, if we could use such profane language for such a timeless classic. And I’ll leave you on a rarely seen image from the inside…

starkive
21 - 05 - 20

I will see you and (not) raise you.

https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/architect-philip-johnson-glass-house-modernism-article

This one’s slightly heftier feet appear to still be quite dry.

Levi
21 - 05 - 20

“Johnson’s design is the architectural equivalent of a brilliantly packed suitcase, with a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, and space for dining and entertaining all arranged inside a simple rectangle measuring 32 by 56 feet. ”

Aaah, the poker face of Starkive. I really like this quote from that article you linked to – thanks, Frank, – although all I can say is that Americans must have bloody big suitcases. That delicate 32 x 56 feet equals 166.5 m2 which is bigger than the average 3 Bedroom house of the time.

Henry Filth
21 - 05 - 20

Put it on a romantic postmodernist barge with attractive postmodernist guide poles so it can simply go up and down with the water. After all, as the song says,

“The Fox River flows
Wherever it wants to go”

denny
22 - 05 - 20

I’m not sure I get why you want to point out the obvious unless you think there is something incredibly imperfect about this little gem. You do fail to mention that building was designed with the flooding river in mind however, the flood level exceeded expectations. Lord Palumbo had owned the building for years (amongst his stable of modernists icon homes) and chose to leave it even though raising it is not a difficult thing (just expensive).

Levi, Johnson’s house is so different it doesn’t really compare… and being on a hill makes it less likely to flood. If there is any comparison, it too is a gem, is designed to suit its setting and sing the heroic song of modernism.

Levi
22 - 05 - 20

Welcome back Denny, long time since we’ve seen you here! Yes, ok, my bad. Pointing out the bleeding obvious. No, it is more a question of me finding something I like and posting it – nothing more sinister than that. I’m an imperfect person. Perfect fish though….

denny
24 - 05 - 20

No worries Levi – you got me to bite at the bait!… Hope things are well in the
capital

Leviathan
25 - 05 - 20

Henry Filth – sorry, for some reason you were locked in the spam box over the weekend. What song is that?