Farnsworth House Visitor Center




TITLE

Farnsworth House Visitor Center



STUDENT Paul Isaacs
University of Kentucky


FACULTY SPONSOR Michael W. Jacobs
University of Kentucky

 



JUROR COMMENTS  

This winning project design is the most developed interpretation of the Miesian language. The series of indoor and outdoor spaces and connecting buildings helps the visitor make the transition from arrival to the actual Farnsworth House. The design prepares the visitor for what they are about to see. 



DESCRIPTION  

 

The Farnsworth House stands as the defining pinnacle of Mies Van Der Rohe’s architectural discourse. The house is one architect’s thesis incarnated in building. As such, the visitor center should hearken back theoretically to the architect’s early beginnings and reinterpret his intellectual continuity toward the ultimate result of his statement. However, the visitor center is not to be understood as a pastiche of Mies’ buildings; a Barcelona Pavilion column here, a brick country house brick wall there, and a Farnsworth window detail there. No, due to contemporary fabrication methods, it would not be feasible to do so. Rather, such architectural elements that characterize Mies’ work are distilled to their essences, and reinterpreted using our modern, standardized fabrication methods. For example, the Barcelona Pavilion columns were both structural and ornamental, thus we can create a new ornamental column as a bundle of tubes plated in bronze to substitute the chrome-encased cross. The corner mullions, wherever they occur, are derivative from both the Farnsworth house and the Seagram Building. The spaces are organized around the slipping walls much like the brick country house or the Barcelona Pavilion. floating planes supported symmetrically by columns are also pervasive in Mies’ work, thus it appears in the visitor center. The grid is also made apparent with the attention to the alignment of mortar joints. The visitor center also sets up a series of dichotomies with the house. Enclosure vs. object Landscape vs. pavilion Opaque vs. transparent Dynamic vs. static Grounded vs. floating The visitor center, furthermore, acts as gatehouse to the estate, and a literal and figurative bridge between the outside world and the world Mies created. A solid, nearly continuous wall separates the pristine natural beauty of the site from the parking lot. One must slip between the walls to enter into a bright interior open to the west, facing the property. A bridge across Rob Roy Creek serves as a gallery space for the house’€™s story. Upon crossing, the solid and grounded building gives way to a pavilion-ish structure amongst descending terraces. This offers a continuit between opaqueness and transparency of the house itself. The site for the new visitor center is on the same spot where the current one is now. This site was chosen, besides being well above flood level, because it harbored natural boundary conditions: Sudden chance in elevation A creek A tree line The visitor center creates an artificial barrier on the profane world side. Between the wall and the natural border is the dematerialized zone, where one is briefed on what lies on the other side. The visitor center is to be understood in many different ways: Gatehouse to the estate A dematerialized zone Essay on Mies’ architecture throughout his career Dichotomies.