Dream Houses And Great Architects
May 31, 2003 7:31 PM   Subscribe

I So Want This House It Hurts. Mies van der Rohe's Farnsworth House is up for sale. If price was no object and location wasn't a problem, where would you choose to really live? What architect, living or dead; what building, available or not, would you choose? [NYT reg. required for main link..]
posted by MiguelCardoso (44 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Thanks for the post, MiguelCardoso. Farnsworth up for sale eh? hmmm, I wonder about that chunk of the Berlin wall? (I didn't read the nyt article if it mentions the sculptures).
posted by tomplus2 at 7:42 PM on May 31, 2003


but that's just me.
posted by lescour at 7:44 PM on May 31, 2003

sckyscrapers.com is the place to look for tall buildin's.
posted by delmoi at 7:56 PM on May 31, 2003

I don't know that I'd ever actually build it after seeing the plans, but I'd like to have something designed by Weird Al Yankovic. Aren't you the least bit curious now?
posted by ilsa at 7:59 PM on May 31, 2003

Miguel, perhaps you would settle for the Coulter House, a Frank Lloyd Wright Usonian house, which will be auctioned this month. My wife and I visited Palumbo's other house, Kentuck Knob, which is only a few miles from Fallingwater. I love the Farnsworth House, but I can certainly understand the choice to keep Kentuck Knob of the two.
posted by samuelad at 8:02 PM on May 31, 2003

..make that Boulter House.
posted by samuelad at 8:04 PM on May 31, 2003

The heart of Cheyenne Mountain was carved out to make a deep underground 4 and a half acre facility for the North American Aerospace Command capable of withstanding a direct nuclear hit - with 3-foot thick steel blast doors weighing 25 tons and capable of closing in 20 seconds (just started reading Fast Food Nation). It's a low-ceiling drab-grey concrete bunker affair with all the gaiety of a tomb, a million gallon water tank and enough pressurized air to keep the staff alive for a month.

I'll take a completely unpopulated private island version of that with personal redundant OC-192 lines hitting San Fransisco, Los Angeles, and Seattle ensuite. Oh, and a top of the line completely automated radar/SAM/CWIS (the 3-foot hemispheroid deck guns on aircraft carriers that fire thousands of DU rounds a minute at incoming missles with a very high rate of success) installation.

If you're detecting a recurrent 'give me my Internet and leave me the hell alone' theme here, it's probably your imagination.
posted by Ryvar at 8:08 PM on May 31, 2003

It's not so much the building as where it's located, for me. Optimal? Give me a sailboat, 60 feet in length or more, and I can choose my own location.

Synchronicitously, one of the nicer boats on which I've ever spent any time, Copper Sky, is for sale at the moment.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:23 PM on May 31, 2003

A hopeless nostalgic in architecture, I could really go for a well-built "Googie" Space-Age style.

I see the ideal house as homogeneous on the outside and design compartmentalized on the inside. By this I mean an exterior made from exceptionally durable materials harmonious to its environment, frugal of energy and water. But in architectural "agreement" with itself, not a great admixture of styles.

Comfortable, peaceful and secure. But with those lovely Space-Age textured concretes, angular decor and futuristic look found in Googie.

The interiors, plural, are either very utilitarian or pleasantly frivolous. The kitchen, for example, I see as designed down to the floors for efficient cleanliness and cooking. Close by would be a large sunken banquet hall, again designed for ease of serving a large feast from the kitchen. But I could also imagine a lounge designed to be conducive to relaxed human entertainment, conversation and performance (to distinguish it from the audio/visual theater-music room); a smoking room with an Arabic alabaster design to include a indoor fountain garden; an English style two level wooden paneled Edwardian library; an exercise room; an art room (upper level, northern exposure); a nursery; a science/mechanical/metal/woodworking crafts shop; and a computer lab. Perhaps an observation tower.

Throughout the interiors, flexibility of design to insure that tired motifs can be changed. Plenty of maintenance crawlspace, with superior utilities conduits for ease of repair and upgrade. Multi-level laundry chutes, elevators, and stairs. Piped natural and Ott lighting. Protected balconies.

Bedrooms from spacious to economy, furnished for entertainment and fantasy, with a touch of "sci-fi" high tech about the rooms.

The below-ground is also very important. A decadent swimming pool, wine cellar (beneath the kitchen and banquet hall), defilade arboretum with glass roof, even a faux-dungeon with stone walls.

(A personal touch, I would like a back patio designed after the house interior used in the movie "Forbidden Planet", home of Dr. Morbius.)

Separate from the main house would be a garage and a maintenance shed for groundskeeping equipment. Perhaps even an "old house" of a more conservative, traditional or classical style, as a guest house.

I see the landscaping (arid clime), starting with terrain design with hardier trees and bushes to protect the more delicate plants and conserve water. Properly done, even in the heat of summer, there should be spots on the grounds both humid and cool.

As you can see, I've thought about this a good deal.
posted by kablam at 8:25 PM on May 31, 2003

I've been somewhat impressed by this idea for a home: an old airliner, mounted on a pole. How many buildings have you seen that can weathervane in the wind?
posted by blue mustard at 8:42 PM on May 31, 2003

Anything by Hundertwasser would be fun. Perhaps I could get an apartment here.

And, if that fell through, I could always borrow a couple million and commission something by Alberto Rubio, since Santiago Calatrava doesn't seem to do private homes.
posted by kickingtheground at 8:52 PM on May 31, 2003

Believe it or not, I would be right where I am now, in what my husband calls "our 50-cent house with the million-dollar view."
posted by Lynsey at 9:02 PM on May 31, 2003

I'm partial to the Winchester Mystery House myself.
posted by SPrintF at 9:11 PM on May 31, 2003

What about a palace in Iowa made out of coal? If it's according to budget, I'll continue living in my current location, which resembles, but is not nearly as big as, jessamyn's barn. (p.s. I'm not sure you'd be happy living in suburban Illinois, Miguel, far from Lisbon.)
posted by LeLiLo at 9:33 PM on May 31, 2003

I've been saying for years, when I make my millions and go hide away, I'm having my own Fallingwater built.
posted by shadow45 at 9:37 PM on May 31, 2003

I'd like something that resembles a googie-style house designed by Howard Roark. Well, mostly googie.

But this dream house must be located in Montana.
posted by davidmsc at 10:08 PM on May 31, 2003

When I finally saw Fallingwater in 1999, I informed my friends that in the event of global catastrophe on 1/1/2000, they could find me holed up there afterwards with a shotgun and a gross of Spam cartons.

Sometimes, though, I think I'd rather take Richard Meier's Douglas House.
posted by tss at 10:10 PM on May 31, 2003

In two years, I will be buying a barn with a loft apartment or something of that nature.

Why? I always wanted to be Clive Cussler's hero, Dirk Pitt, but not because of his job, his adventures, or his babes -- I wanted his cars and his converted-aircraft-hangar home. ;)
posted by SpecialK at 10:14 PM on May 31, 2003

stavros, for a boat that you are going to spend so much time on, you might consider something a bit larger. Might I suggest an an aircraft carrier? Speaking of synchronicity!
posted by samuelad at 10:20 PM on May 31, 2003

Even though it's fiction-within-the-framework-of-fiction, I'd like to live in the Navidson House on Ash Tree Lane.

Or perhaps I should just go to sleep.
posted by sigma7 at 10:24 PM on May 31, 2003

If I could choose?
No permanent residence, just riding a motorbike around the warmer parts of our world, sleeping wherever nightfall catches me.
posted by spazzm at 11:18 PM on May 31, 2003

I've always rather liked the cottagey feel to the Bush summer residence in Kennebunkport, Maine. Here's a shot from the distance that give's an idea of the spectacular view, and some lovely photos to give a flavor of the area.
posted by madamjujujive at 11:20 PM on May 31, 2003

I live here which is right down the street from this. I like it!!
posted by mrhappy at 11:58 PM on May 31, 2003


I thought about Falling Water but the constant sound of that falling water would drive me crazy (they profiled it on last weeks This Old House).

Speaking of Mies - Here lies Less is More, 4 shots from a .44, no Less, no More.

Sorry, old southwest architecture joke.
posted by jabo at 2:11 AM on June 1, 2003

More Farnsworth info here, and details of its long, expensive and controversial construction here. The whole project was beset with problems, not least the fact that it attracts mosquitoes and bugs by the million. Personal favourites? A case study house wouldn't go amiss - Mies's strict aesthetic combined with Hollywood drama.
posted by jonathanbell at 2:30 AM on June 1, 2003

In Dan Simmon's sci-fi masterpiece Hyperion, there existed a technology called "Farcaster", which was essentially an always on Star Trek type of transporter that you simply walked thru and you were somewhere else. A minor character had an office/home that had farcaster portals at the entrance to each room, meaning that each room was on a different planet, with a gazillion dollar view. The possibilities are endless, though as an architectural marvel, you might be disappointed.
posted by ashbury at 5:09 AM on June 1, 2003

I've not been inside, but I think I may want to live in the Lovell House. On the other hand, I was just visiting the Villa Savoye Friday, which would be a great place for a party. I've visited the Farnsworth house and would love it as long as I could have a giant studio nearby. If I was to live in a Mies House I might it rather be the Tugendhat House, although I've not visited there either (yet). But maybe, just maybe, my ultimate house would be the Maison de Verre which I have had the pleasure of visiting and it is amazing.
posted by Dick Paris at 5:36 AM on June 1, 2003

What saddens me is that I live in a state with such ridiculous priorities that we appear to unable to come up with the US$7-10 million to buy Farnsworth House and place it in the public trust... Some potential good news: I have heard conversationally that the Art Institute of Chicago is aggressively seeking a patron or patrons willing to step up and fund the purchase of the House.

Personally, I find the house cold, although I certainly appreciate its aesthetic virtues and cultural importance. Were money, time and laws prohibiting private construction in national parks no object, I'd be living in something along these lines at the top of the O'heo Gulch, on Maui's northeast corner.

[Here's a link to Calatrava's frame- and Flash-laden site.]
posted by JollyWanker at 8:21 AM on June 1, 2003

After some renovation to produce suitable living spaces (though the period rooms are possibly adequate), I would adore to live in the Met. As they say, location location location!

More traditionally, I'm a big fan of Charles Eames' Eames House in Santa Monica, and I'm a sucker for Fallingwater, even though it's falling apart.
posted by The Michael The at 8:32 AM on June 1, 2003

I almost forgot my other pipe dream of buying and living in the Cloud Club in the top of the Chrysler Building. Former prohibition speakeasy, site of a crucial scene of Cremaster 3, top of my favorite building ever. What's not to love?
posted by The Michael The at 8:41 AM on June 1, 2003

I'll take this one, myself.
posted by yoga at 8:56 AM on June 1, 2003

Personally, I'd like to live in a converted lighthouse. I don't know why, but circular rooms appeal to me. And the living room (converted from the lamphouse) would have a hell of a view. Also, you're unlikely to get many jehovah's witnesses or door-to-door salesmen :)
posted by kaemaril at 9:28 AM on June 1, 2003

Miguel, if you can restrain your enthusiasm for a few months the house may be cheaper later.

P.S. Mies would not approve, in spite of all that nonfunctional applied decoration he hung on the Seagram Building, but I've always wanted to live here (the building in the foreground, I mean, the Hanging Gardens. The edifice in the far distance, which I take to be the Tower of Babel, is not my first choice of locations for a condo.)

posted by jfuller at 10:53 AM on June 1, 2003

The Owl House. Absolutely No Question About It! :)
posted by plep at 11:04 AM on June 1, 2003

P.P.S. as a second choice I'll take the Ringling Mansion and gardens in Sarasota. Of all the 19th century American barons whose houses I've seen, Ringling's is the only one giving the impression that the owner actually had fun with his money. I'd also want the attached art museum, full of immense Reubens cartoons that look exactly like circus-wagon art.
posted by jfuller at 11:10 AM on June 1, 2003

The Greene and Greene Arts and Crafts houses are all great. Especially the Gable house in Pasedena. It's interior is built like a piece of furniture.
posted by jjj606 at 11:28 AM on June 1, 2003

Here's a cool mpeg Farnsworth fly-through.
posted by dougb at 11:35 AM on June 1, 2003

I live in a condo in Toronto, but find myself frequently going on the MLS web site to price, say an oceanside cottage in Nova Scotia. I do this, however, fully cognizant of the fact that if I did live in the waterfront stone cottage of my dreams, I'd probably then dream about living in a condo in Toronto.
posted by orange swan at 1:46 PM on June 1, 2003

yoga, you have sold me. I love the smooth lines of that house and the fact that it looks both ancient and modern at the same time.
posted by dg at 6:33 PM on June 1, 2003

Anything by Hundertwasser would be fun.

OK, kickingtheground, how about these then? Falling water, indeed.
posted by Sonny Jim at 7:07 PM on June 1, 2003

I've never visited Fallingwater (though I'd like to.) I hear that Wright's houses were notoriously unfriendly to residents -- they were designed on Wright's (short) scale, and apparently the roofs always leak.

Frank Gehry's house in Santa Monica is nifty, but I'm not sure I'd want it as my own. I just visited The Breakers in Newport, RI, this weekend but it's a teensy bit over-the-top for my tastes.
posted by Vidiot at 9:23 PM on June 1, 2003

Some great ones that I did not see mentioned:

The Gamble House

The Villa Malaparte

Casa Mila (actually a block of flats but with some great spaces and details), which I imagine Miguel would love. Urban and très chic.
posted by Dick Paris at 6:15 AM on June 2, 2003

Another view of the Villa Malaparte. (Self link: the photo taken on a 1998 trip to Italy.)

One more house to mention: Hill House
posted by Dick Paris at 6:49 AM on June 2, 2003

> they were designed on Wright's (short) scale, and
> apparently the roofs always leak.

All flat roofs leak and require constant maintenance, patching, re-tarring, re-graveling, etc. (My qualifications for saying so: I'm an architect's kid and all my summer jobs in high school and college were doing construction work on my dad's building sites. I have personally done every building trade there is except master electrician and steamfitter.)

The only reasons for a flat roof in any climate where it ever rains are 1) initial investment is cheep-cheep-cheep and permanence be damned, or 2) we're gonna impose our cubist vision, and function be damned. Many of those flat-roofed, rectangular residences are very handsome in their Bauhausy, retro-quaint way but they're about as practical as building with marzipan and gingerbread.
posted by jfuller at 12:04 PM on June 2, 2003

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