Ludwig Mies van der Rohe's Farnsworth House Gets New Beams
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Ludwig Mies van der Rohe's Farnsworth House Gets New Beams

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By Duncan Nielsen
The Ludwig Mies van der Rohe masterpiece will be bathed in a grid of lasers for this year’s Chicago Architecture Biennial.

Mies van der Rohe’s legendary Farnsworth House will be soon be getting the Tron treatment. The exemplary International Style home, with its flat, elongated surfaces and industrial material palette, will be illuminated by a lattice of lasers for the Chicago Architecture Biennial.

The red laser beams light the home at night, giving it a new, unique aesthetic. 

The red laser beams light the home at night, giving it a new, unique aesthetic. 

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Humboldt Park–based Luftwerk and architect/designer Iker Gil of MAS Studio developed the installation as a follow-up to their Geometry of Light project, which bathed the interior of the Barcelona Pavilion in a grid of red beams this past February. Subtle smoke and meditative, trance-inducing audio completed the immersive experience.

The Farnsworth House illuminated by latticed red lasers that extend out into the home's natural surroundings.

The Farnsworth House illuminated by latticed red lasers that extend out into the home's natural surroundings.

"Geometry of Light at the Farnsworth House explores the visible and invisible conditions that shape the close relationship between this historic house and the surrounding trees, landscape, and Fox River," explains the creative team. "We are excited to continue the exploration of the work of Mies van der Rohe, initiated at the German Pavilion in Barcelona, and establish a conceptual dialogue between these two exemplary structures of the modern movement."

The International Style home is framed anew by carefully placed laser beams, creating a fully immersive experience inside the home and out. 

The International Style home is framed anew by carefully placed laser beams, creating a fully immersive experience inside the home and out. 

The project du jour is Luftwerk’s second installation at the Farnsworth House, and it's the latest entry in an impressive curriculum vitae. In 2014, Luftwerk founders Petra Bachmaier and Sean Gallero bathed the home in a grid of neon light, stirring up new attention for a site worthy of its historical accreditation. Before that, in 2011, they dressed Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater in a similar wash of light and sound. 

A view from inside Farnsworth House shows the laser beams at play with the surrounding environment. 

A view from inside Farnsworth House shows the laser beams at play with the surrounding environment. 

Luftwerk’s big idea, in general, is to add an interpretive layer to existing architectural structures, playing with light and color as primary elements. Here, the result provides a fresh perspective on a renowned masterpiece.

If Mies van der Rohe’s iconic design wasn’t already worthy of an Instagram shoutout, Luftwerk and Gil’s beaming, latticed display should give folks something new to broadcast. Join an evening walk-through of the exhibition from October 11-13 in Chicago.

Related Reading: Lighting Up Mies van der Rohe's Farnsworth House, Less Is More: 10 Buildings by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe