I recently went to Chicago on vacation, a city well known for its rich architecture. One of my “must see” there was going to visit the Farnsworth House by Mies van der Rohe, an iconic house that we all have seen a million times in pictures and studied to the smallest detail. However, once more, no photo gets even close to the real thing.
The house is located in Plano, Illinois, slightly more than one hour from Chicago. You can get there by train, although the timetable is not very convenient, and also by car, but either way, you will have to get a reservation for a guided tour (you can’t just visit it by yourself). We decided to get a tour with the CAF (Chicago Architecture Foundation), which included the bus round trip, the visit to the house plus another two Mies’s buildings, and lunch. It was easier and more practical for us to do it that way, especially because we were in the city for just 4 days and wanted to make the most of our time.
Once at the Farnsworth House what first surprised me was the beautiful and peaceful scenery. You have to walk 500 yards through the woods to finally arrive in a hidden spot right in front of the river and surrounded by trees, where the house stands as if it was floating over the prairie. Every detail on it was thoroughly thought over, from the general proportions to the last screw, to make the masterpiece that we all know. And the outcome is just stunning.
The guided tour allows you to see the house from the exterior and also to get into it, but (for some reason) you are not allowed to take pictures of the interior. You also get an explanation about the background of the architect, the client and the project itself, which helps you to understand the building better.
If you ever have a chance I strongly recommend that you go visit it, you won’t regret it.