The Farnsworth House in Plano and the National Trust for Historic Preservation will host the launch of Alex Beam’s book "Broken Glass."
Tentatively postponed until early June, the launch was to have taken place March 19 at the Knoll Chicago Showroom, 810 W. Fulton Market, Chicago, and is part of a fundraiser to preserve Farnsworth House
Tickets cost $125 and include an evening of hors d’oeuvres and drinks, a copy of the book, and the opportunity to have one's book personalized. To secure a ticket, visit FarnsworthHouse.org.
Beam interweaves personal drama and cultural history to tell the story of Edith Farnsworth, a woman ahead of her time: a distinguished medical researcher, an accomplished violinist, a translator and poet. Her relationship with Mies van der Rohe, the house's architect, quickly surpassed that of a typical client – the two spent weekends talking philosophy, mysticism and design over wine-soaked lunches. But the house at the center of their relationship ultimately led to a chilling of their affection.
Although it became famous as a modernist marvel, it was plagued by cost overruns, leaks and flooding. Perhaps most critically, Edith Farnsworth found the house’s total lack of privacy – it was made almost entirely of glass and steel – untenable. Alienated and aggrieved, she lent her name to a public campaign against Mies, cheered on by Frank Lloyd Wright. In turn, Mies sued her for unpaid monies. An ensuing trial generated accusations of incompetence against an architectural master, and allegations of psychological cruelty and emotional trauma.
Beam said, “I think 'Broken Glass' is the first account of the Mies-Farnsworth story that fully reveals who Edith Farnsworth was before, during and after the construction of the famous house. In this story, she enjoys equal billing with Mies. How readers respond to my story remains to be seen.”
Designed in 1945 and constructed in 1951, Farnsworth House is a representation of both the International Style of architecture, as well as the modern movement’s desire to juxtapose the sleek, streamline design of modern structure with the organic environment of the surrounding nature. Mies constructed the glass box residence of “almost nothing” for Dr. Edith Farnsworth as a country retreat along the Fox River in Plano. It continued to be a private residence for more than 50 years until Landmarks Illinois and the National Trust for Historic Preservation purchased it in 2003.
For information about the status of programming, events and exhibitions at Farnsworth House, visit farnsworthhouse.org.