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The story of Mies Van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House, in Illinois, will be featured in a Hollywood movie, starring Jeff Bridges and Maggie Gyllenhaal. This will be their second time working together after their 2009 movie ‘Crazy Hearts’, for which Bridges was given the Best Actor Academy Award and Gyllenhaal was nominated Best Supporting Actress. Bridges will be playing the role of the German-American Modernist architect, while Gyllenhaal will be playing the role of his client and house commissioner Edith Farnsworth. The featured house is considered an icon of Modernism and the architect’s only remarkable and completed house in the US.

Image courtesy of Jack E. Boucher – via wikimedia

Farnsworth House is located on a 62-acre site with a breath-taking natural landscape. Mies Van der Rohe designed the house to be a weekend retreat for his client, Chicago nephrologist Edith Farnsworth. He explained his design concept for the house by saying: “Nature, too, shall live its own life. We must beware not to disrupt it with the color of our houses and interior fittings. Yet we should attempt to bring nature, houses, and human beings together into a higher unity.” So, he optimized the view of the relaxing forest-like surroundings of the house by enveloping the structure, which is mainly composed of horizontal slabs and steel columns, in floor-to-ceiling glass. The all glass skin provides an enchanting panoramic view of nature and lets visitors see through the house, not obstructed by the man-made element.

Image courtesy of Jack E. Boucher – via wikimedia

However, the movie will be focusing on the relationship between Mies Van der Rohe and his client Edith Farnsworth. The relationship started in a friendly manner, maybe even romantic as Farnsworth’s sister claims, but ended up in courts. The dispute was initiated by the architect presenting the house’s bill far exceeding the initially estimated cost. Maurice Parrish, the executive director of the house, turned, now, into a museum owned by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, has acclaimed the idea of the movie saying: “It would certainly generate more public interest in the Farnsworth House, and that’s a good thing,”

It is expected that movie may get to the issue of reserving the house from flooding which it has experienced multiple times now, given its location in on the flood plains of the Fox River. A system of hydraulic jacks to permanently lift the house higher off the ground was proposed by preservationists in 2014, and it is currently under examination.

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