The Architecture & Designs Showcases to See This Season

By Stephen Ostrowski | February 28, 2019 | Culture

In Plano, an icon opens its doors to winter; in the city, A-list architecture exhibits abound.

Hubert Hoffmann, “boltless shelf,” dismountable bookshelf, prototype “Steckregal,” 1930, ash-tree, on view at The Whole World a Bauhaus at the Elmhurst Art Museum (Photo: A. Körner, bildhübsche Fotografie, Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen)

01/ WINTER WONDER: Iconic spaces inspire such endless commentary that it can seem all but impossible to see them in a new light. Fortunately, disciples of Mies van der Rohe’s landmark Farnsworth House in Plano are getting to do just that with the property’s new winter tours (through March 23; normal schedule resumes April 2).

It’s the first time visitors can experience the steel, glass and concrete splendor of the International Style home, which was built for Dr. Edith Farnsworth and finished in 1951, during the winter. “The architecture is very minimalist and open,” observes Farnsworth House Executive Director Scott Mehaffey, “and there’s something very poetic about the relationship—the starkness of the house in the winter landscape. It’s a different experience.”

Consider it the entree to a year of exhibitions deepening our understanding of the residence and its iconoclastic auteur: Photographs from the Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin (April 1-May 12), a joint exhibition between Farnsworth and the Illinois Institute of Technology and sponsored by the Goethe-Institut and the Year of German-American Friendship, spotlights the centennial of the barrier-busting design school—of which van der Rohe was its final director—with a loaned selection of photographs courtesy of the Berlin-based Bauhaus-Archiv Museum. With subsequent exhibitions to follow, 2019 is bringing Mies to the max. 14520 River Road, Plano, 630.552.0052

02/ THE WHOLE WORLD A BAUHAUS: Here’s a coup: The traveling retrospective toasting the 100th birthday of the German art and design movement makes its lone U.S. visit at the Elmhurst Art Museum after stops in Buenos Aires and Mexico City (Feb. 23-April 20). A site-specific installation by Assaf Evron and Claudia Weber on the grounds’ McCormick House complements the survey (through April 14). 150 S. Cottage Hill Ave., Elmhurst

03/ DIMENSIONS OF CITIZENSHIP: ARCHITECTURE AND BELONGING FROM THE BODY TO THE COSMOS: FREESPACE, the 16th international architecture exhibition of the Venice Biennale, might have wrapped, but its American entry lives on at new Lincoln Park exhibition space Wrightwood 659, where seven installations prompt visitors to explore the relationship between citizenship and the built environment. Feb. 28-April 27, 659 W. Wrightwood Ave.

04/ UPDATING THE GALLERY: The forthcoming $75 million renovation to the Uptown Theatre has locals abuzz over new life being breathed into the historic venue. As they await the sure-to-be-stunning results, a welcome holdover beckons at the Chicago Architecture Center, where the theater joins a handful of April additions to the Current Projects section in the Chicago Gallery (which houses the Chicago Model, the popular 4,000-plus building display of our shape-shifting skyline). 111 E. Wacker Drive

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