Broken Glass: Mies van der Rohe, Edith Farnsworth, and the Fight over a Modernist Masterpiece

Alex Beam. Random House, $28 (352p) ISBN 978-0-399-59271-3
Beam (The Feud) interweaves architectural history and personal drama in this enthralling account of the construction of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe's Farnsworth House, revealing how two friends designed one of America's most widely recognized residences before descending into bitterness and strife. At a 1945 dinner party, physician Edith Farnsworth asked renowned avant-garde architect Mies van der Rohe to design her a weekend home on a beautiful wooded plot next to the Fox River in Plano, Ill. Inspired, he designed a transparent home composed almost entirely of glass and steel to "let the outside in." The two became intimately involved, spending weekends together crafting the design and motivating rival architect Philip Johnson to design the Glass House in New Canaan, Conn. Architectural problems and skyrocketing costs (the total cost ballooned from $40,000 to over $70,000) drove a wedge between Farnsworth and Mies van der Rohe, with Farnsworth publicly denigrating Mies van der Rohe's work before he sued her for unpaid fees, which turned into four years of legal wrangling after the house was completed in 1951. This engrossing page turner is a portrait of two complex people and a fascinating history of a modern architectural masterpiece. (Mar.)
Reviewed on : 12/05/2019
Release date: 03/17/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
Book - 978-0-399-59272-0
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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