Art & Architecture Tour 2022 | Day 4

Our Adventure Continues
Day 4 | Plano and Oak Park, Illinois

Our Next Stop: Edith Farnsworth House ('A' on Map)

We enter the fourth day of our adventure with anticipation of seeing one of the more important buildings (IMHO) to be built which represents the modernist movement of the 1930’s. The Edith Farnsworth House by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe has been and is still today considered the prime example of minimalist (remember Less is More?) design which defined the movement. It has been another of those ‘bucket list’ buildings that we’re checking off on our adventure across the Midwest.

The stories surrounding the house are numerous and interestingly touch many aspects that architects deal with throughout their career. Infatuation, indignation, infuriation, and probably a lot of indigestion make up the sometimes-declining relationship between client and architect on a daily basis. Yet, with all of that devolution, a piece of artistic genius was created that lives on today in spite of man and nature fighting to destroy it. You have to see it to appreciate why it’s important to have it survive.

The story starts with a woman with means, meeting an architect with ideas, who work together to create something no one else had imagined would be a good idea–a glass and steel house built in the woods, next to a river prone to flooding. What could go wrong? Read the entire story here.

Several floods later, enter Lord Peter Palumbo, the savior who bought the home and (after experiencing its most devastating flood) with a small fortune at risk, repaired it to the condition that it is today. And, although flooding is still a major potential still today, work is ongoing to come up with solutions that will preserve the home into the future. Read about that, here. It’s a very fascinating engineering approach to mitigating the effects of rising flood plane elevations–a problem that will soon inundate entire coast lines of the world. But that’s a future that hopefully we can avoid.

Here are a few photos (some off the internet) of the house and its creators.

Next Stop, Oak Park, Illinois ('B' on Map)

FLW Home and Studio

Our last stop of the day, in search of Frank Lloyd Wright, was back to a place we have visited before. FLW’s home and studio in Oak Park, Illinois, was a familiar but still the right place to re-familiarize ourselves with his early rocky personal life and his prolific professional life. Oak Park is home to dozens of FLW designed homes, and a Unitarian church called Unity Temple. These projects were created after leaving his first major position with the American premier firm of Louis Sullivan in their Chicago office. The story of FLW’s move from Sullivan’s office to opening his own is one that is very common in the architectural profession. It usually starts by ‘moonlight’. 

If you have the time (which we didn’t on this trip), there are guided and self-guided walking tours that are a great way to experience the breadth of his early development of his Prairie School of design.

Below are a few images of his home and studio followed up with images of our late lunch at Hemingway’s Bistro…no, I don’t think he was known for his culinary prowess, but Hemingway did grow up in Oak Park. And, that’s another story for another visit.  Enjoy.

Day 5 Next!...Columbus, IN ('C' on Map) and Columbus OH

The remainder of day 4 was spent uneventfully driving to just outside of Columbus, Indiana, where, after many hours in the car, we “dollar-cost-averaged” (again) into a less than luxurious interstate hotel. Sometimes, it’s necessary to be frugal…One travel tip, though, which should just be SOP for anything involving a credit card.  Check to make sure  the charges are accurate before leaving the hotel or motel. Details, here, are not important but suffice it to say it is a good policy.

Day 5 will include a tour of Columbus, Indiana’s, cache of world class architecture before heading to Columbus, Ohio, for more museums and ART! 

Stay tuned and KEEP READING!!

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