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Preservation: Illinois

Mies van der Rohe’s love-it-or-hate-it celebration of Modernism endures as a cautionary tale on the merits of glass houses.

The Farnsworth House in Plano, Illinois, about 60 miles southwest of Chicago, is revered as one of the world’s most important Modernist icons. But architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s masterpiece—the glass-walled embodiment of his dictum Less is more—provoked scathing criticism upon its completion in 1951. Edith Farnsworth, the wealthy Chicago physician who had commissioned the house, declared the transparent structure unlivable and filed suit against Mies. She lost the case—she had, after all, approved the plans—and grudgingly spent weekends in her glass box for the better part of two decades. (Read More…)