No. 179 . 28 January 2004 
ArchitectureWeek
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Farnsworth House Saved

by ArchitectureWeek

On the morning of December 18, 2003, historic preservationists were casting a worried eye on the Farnsworth House, designed by 20th-century architect Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe. The famous 1951 steel-and-glass house was to be auctioned at Sotheby's that day, and its fate would depend on whoever emerged as high bidder.

Some potential bidders had indicated they would close the house to the public or, worse, move it from the Plano, Illinois site for which it was designed. A move would not only rob the building of its context, but it could also have caused irreparable structural damage.

The State of Illinois had recently abandoned plans to purchase the house because of its own budget crisis. Only if a consortium of preservation groups won the Sotheby's bid would the landmark house be guaranteed to remain intact and in place.

Leading the crusade were the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois (LPCI). Until the morning of the auction, however, they had not raised sufficient funds to compete successfully in the auction. Then, a last-minute publicity blitz brought in enough donors to win the bid, which came in at over $7.5 million.   >>>

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