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Farnsworth House Plan

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Farnsworth had purchased the riverfront property from the publisher of the Chicago Tribune, Robert R. McCormick. Mies developed the design in time for it to be included in an exhibit on his work at MOMA, the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1947. After completion of design, the project was placed on hold awaiting an inheritance from an ailing aunt of Farnsworth. Mies was to act as the general contractor as well as architect. Work began in 1950 and substantially, was completed in 1951. The commission was an ideal one for any architect, but was marred by a very publicized dispute between Farnsworth and Mies that began near the end of construction. The total cost of the house was $74,000 in 1951 ($648,000 in 2012 dollars). A cost overrun of $15,600 over the initially approved construction budget of $58,400, was due to escalating material prices resulting from inflationary commodities speculation (in anticipation of demand arising from the mobilization for the Korean War). Near the completion of construction, Mies filed a lawsuit for non-payment of $28,173 in construction costs. The owner then filed a counter suit for damages due to alleged malpractice. Mies' attorneys proved that Farnsworth had approved the plans and budget increases, and the court ordered the owner to pay her bills. Farnsworth's malpractice accusations were dismissed as unsubstantiated. It was a bitter and hollow victory for Mies, considering the painful publicity that followed.

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