Farnsworth House Flooded

Farnsworth House. Courtesy Farnsworth House Official Website.

Record rains on September 14th flooded Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House in Plano, Illinois. 18 inches of water filled the modern masterpiece, damaging fixed wood panels and an armoire, while the movable furniture, which was placed on top of milk crates prior to the flood, was spared. The house stands on columns five feet above ground, which were inadequate against the surfeit of water brought on by Tropical Storm Lowell and remnants of Hurricane Ike.

Decades of suburban development and expansion around the flood plain of the Fox River in Plano have left no place for the rains to seep in. Hence, since it was built more than fifty years ago, the Farnsworth House “has suffered seven 100-year floods” (Edward Lifson). The deluge this time brought water levels 14 feet above normal.

After several days, the waters subsided while damage assessment and relief efforts were quickly mobilized. The architectural landmark will certainly be closed the rest of the year, and significant funds are still needed to assist with the cleanup and restoration. For further updates and ways to contribute, go to the Farnsworth House website.

The house itself is seen as one of the purest examples of modernist architecture in its “pared down minimalism.” Its understatements can almost be extracted one by one in this lovely work, Le Baiser/The Kiss, by Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle (Season 4).