All photos courtesy Landmarks Illinois, 2008.
The biggest news over the weekend was the incredible flooding throughout the state and the two feet of water and mud that soaked the interior of Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House in Plano. I am doubly responsible for this landmark, which is owned by the National Trust (I’m on the Board) and operated by Landmarks Illinois (I’m on the Board). The immediate hit is coming to Landmarks Illinois, which will lose $60,000 in tour income in the coming months – the height of the tourist season. It is tragic that this disaster occurred at all, doubly tragic that it occurred at the start of the two best tourism months in Northeastern Illinois – September and October.
Kudos to Whitney French, who is amazing. She is the Site Director of the Farnsworth House and she is amazing when giving a tour, amazing in her attention to every window frame and tree on the site, amazing in her intelligence and resourcefulness, and amazing in her dedication to this building. When something like this happens, she puts in ALL of her time, something I can’t claim.
The tragedy here of course is that Mies built the building to a height protecting it from all but the once-in-a-hundred-years flood. The only problem is that thanks to our emissions-enhanced environment and oodles upon oodles of new suburban development upstream, we have had a hundred-year flood at least three times in the last decade or so, and right now they are coming every year.
This building needs your help. Give not once but twice – the links are on this page. Give to Landmarks Illinois to help bring the building back as quickly as possible and give to the National Trust to build the endowment needed to support this unique icon of modernism. This is one of my favorite buildings in the world. It sings like few others. It’s worth it.
2014 UPDATE on Farnsworth House