Hot or Not: Sex and Real Estate

Hot or Not: Sex and Real Estate

Heather Blaha
May 16, 2007

We caught some historical gossip during our recent trip to Mies van der Rohe's Farnsworth House. And now there's a play about it. The relationship between Mies and Dr. Edith Farnsworth was rich with a creative (and romantic) partnership and longstanding tension over the little glass house in the woods. The New Yorker recently profiled the upcoming play titled "The Glass House," noting that "plays about architects don't have much of a track record in New York." (More below...)

Plays about architects don't have much of a track record in New York, at least not since Ibsen's "The Master Builder." In January, the Times dismissed a new play about Frank Lloyd Wright as a "dreary drama" that focussed too much on Wright's tirades against contractors, a subject that, however easy it may be for people to identify with, doesn't make for stirring theatre. But things might turn out differently for "The Glass House," a new play that explores the story of Mies van der Rohe's Farnsworth House, which was completed in 1951, outside Chicago, if only because it is a play about architecture only in the sense that "A Streetcar Named Desire" is a play about public transit.

"The Glass House" explores the romantic relationship between a female client and a male architect that merely happens to have, at its center, one of the most famous houses in history. The tensions between Dr. Edith Farnsworth, who dreamed of commissioning a great work of architecture, and Mies van der Rohe, who seduced her into letting him build the house he wanted, represent the stresses of almost every client-architect relationship. "It is the story of people who were together for five years and built this wonderful house, and then they sued each other," June Finfer, the playwright, said the other day.

- excerpt from article by Paul Goldberger

(Photos by Matthew Shallenberger)

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