Unfocused Times

Post-it, Do not disturb, Claudia Weber, McCormick House, Focus

Note on closed door of the small living room / work space / bedroom.

I made the mistake of thinking that before 11am and after 5pm I would have time to focus. I didn’t take into account the cleaning of the museum at early hours, repair works, special visits, tours, evening events, etc. I also underestimated how much time a remote kitchen, bathroom, and shower would consume. In fact, my stay at the McCormick House is the opposite of an artist residency, which provides an environment where artists are shielded from daily chores and any interruption that would interfere with their work.


Exquisite Corpse, Discourse Cards, Grid, Claudia Weber, McCormick House, Mies van der Rohe, MR Chair

Discourse cards from Exquisite Corpse laid out in a grid.

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Adjusting to A Relaxed Position

Exquisite Corpse, Ephemerals Card, Claudia Weber, McCormick House

Ephemerals card from Exquisite Corpse.


Kate Park, Clean Laundry #2, McCormick House

Photographer: Jim Prinz

Kate Park, Clean Laundry #2 (2018 / 2019); size before treatment H 54” x W 20” x D 4”; industrially woven, shaped by wash processes (i.e. by machine and hand); colored papers, dimensions vary 

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Birds, Bird Deaths, McCormick House, Isabella Gardner, Claudia Weber, Notes

Trying To See the Sun Set

Sunset, trees, winter sun, McCormick House, 90 degrees turned


The windows of the McCormick House originally faced East and West. After the relocation, the house was turned 90 degrees. To be able to see the sunset, I need to squeeze against the windows to catch parts of it.

Model of A Steel House

Developer Herbert Greenwald, architect Mies van der Rohe, and investor Robert H. McCormick. Photographer: Possibly Hedrich Blessing.

Floor plan, prefab housing, Mies van der Rohe

Floor plan of a proposed prefab steel house.

House Details

Hinges, McCormick House, 150 South Cottage Hill Ave, Claudia Weber, Mies van der Rohe


Details from the McCormick House: Hinges of the door to former boys’ room. In the original layout, this door was used for the bathroom.

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Looking through the space divider from the bedside with blinds still down. Claudia Weber, McCormick House

Morning view from bed.


It took me two weeks to feel comfortable leaving my home and be absent while others explore it.


Take-out, fortune cookies, McCormick House, 150 South Cottage Hill Ave

A few days ago I ordered take-out and found three fortune cookies in the bag. 

Replaced Vistas

Relocated McCormick House, replaced vistas, Claudia Weber, Mies van der Rohe, Prototype

Windows on the south side of the McCormick House frame the gridded museum walls.

Beatrix Colomina in her book Domesticity at War (2007) quotes from Thomas Hine’s book Popolux (1996), where he observed that the largest windows in the houses of Frank Lloyd Wright, Mies van der Rohe, and Richard Neutra framed the most spectacular views of the landscape, while picture windows in developers’ houses would “look out on whatever happened to be outside.” When the McCormick House was moved from its large, wooded lot on 299 Prospect Ave to the open area at the north end of Wilder Park in Elmhurst in 1994, its windows then also looked out on whatever happened to be outside or has been built ever since: Beyond the park, the house’s north-facing windows now frame parking lots and office buildings located behind it. The Elmhurst library, which Mies van der Rohe’s grandson Dirk Lohan designed, is seen peripheral to the left and becomes more prominent after dark when it is illuminated. The windows on the south side face the museum’s lobby and tall side wall as well as David Wallace Haskins’ Sky Cube. (…)Read More

Ephemeral card, Exquisite Corpse, Claudia Weber, McCormick House

Ephemerals card from Exquisite Corpse

Hallway of the McCormick House

Spectrogram of the white noise of the McCormick House's hallway. Olivia Block


White noise recorded and visualized by Olivia Block.

Drawing Revisited

Exquisite Corpse, Claudia Weber, Mies van der Rohe, sketch, collage, elm paneling, 150 South Cottage Hill Ave

House card from Exquisite Corpse with sketch by Mies van der Rohe.

Elm paneling in the McCormick House’s current living room (former Children’s Wing)

After the McCormick House was moved to 150 S Cottage Hill Ave in 1994, its panels were reconfigured. The resulting layout in the living room of the former Children’s Wing now looks identical to one of Mies van der Rohe’s sketched interiors of a prefab steel house (1950s ?).

Notes on Utopia, History and Architectural Form

Plot contribution by Sebastian Mühl

Within the context of this project and as the editor of Plot.online, I would like to point to Sebastian Mühl’s new contribution Notes on Utopia, History and Architectural Form: How does contemporary art remind us of the ruined utopias of the past? And how do the universalist claims of modernist architecture reappear in the light of contemporaneity? A post-utopian perspective is not retrogressive per se but rather holds true to the emancipatory claims of modernity by criticizing its problematic aspects.
– Sebastian Mühl


Exhibition Checklist 03/01

Updated checklist 03/01, McCormick House, Claudia Weber

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Table Configurations

Reconfigrued table, Claudia Weber, McCormick House, Elizabeth Gordon, House Beautiful, 150 South Cottage Hill Ave

Table reconfigurations

The table transforms into different constellations; its motif–The Threat…–moves through different types of layerings. 

The Artist Resides

On several occasions I overheard people using the term artist-in-residence when describing this project. While I understand the reason behind it–it is an established description that can be easily communicated–I consider this term misleading. The Elmhurst Art Museum does not run an institutionally established artist-in-residence program. Instead, taking up residence in the McCormick House is a crucial part of my site-responsive concept that I specifically developed for this prototype by Mies van der Rohe after having been invited to do an exhibition here. 

People in the Park

People passing the McCormick House, 150 South Cottage Hill Ave

Instead of a private backyard, the north side of the house now faces the end part of Wilder Park.  


Context card from Exquisite Corpse, Claudia Weber, McCormick House, IIT, Institute of Design, POEMS, Acronym

Contexts card from Exquisite Corpse

POEMS: People, objects, environments, messages, and services are the elements that can be selected and designed to provide a systemic offering. These elements help define a territory selected by the company (Source: IIT Institute of Design website, 2018 – This content is no longer available).

Letter Exchange

Contexts card from Exquisite Corpse, Postcard by Gregory Corso, Isabella Gardner, Claudia Weber, McCormick House, Mies van der Rohe

Contexts card from Exquisite Corpse: Postcard from Gregory Corso to Isabella Gardner, 1958. Poetry collection The Happy Birthday of Death by Corso, 1960.

Chess Game

Isabella Gardner playing chess at Chicago Chess Club

Isabella Gardner (right) playing chess at the Chicago Chess Club. Gardner lived in the McCormick House from 1952-1959. She was a poet and also worked as an editor for the Poetry Foundation, Chicago. 
WUSTL Digital Gateway Image Collections & Exhibitions, accessed February 23, 2019. Photographer: Unknown.



I greet you and all friends of the square.

Theo von Doesburg in a letter to Mies van der Rohe in the 1920s.

Extended Floor Plan

Extended floor plan of the McCormick House, Claudia Weber

The lack of a kitchen and a non-functioning bathroom requires me to expand the museum / residence floor plan to the main museum building and further into the town of Elmhurst. 


Claudia Weber, Elm (2019), b&w photo printed on textile, aluminum rods, 33″ x 95″


McCormick House, Elm disease diagram, Claudia Weber

Buckminster Fuller: House as First Line of Defense

Contexts card from Exquisite Corpse

Excerpt from a speech that Buckminster Fuller gave to engineers joining Beechcraft in Wichita, Kansas, 1946; in Architecture in Motion by Robert Kronenburg, 2013

Kitchen Walks

Kitchen walks, McCormick House, repurposed darkroom developing tray

Repurposed darkroom developing tray to bring cups etc. from and to the kitchen.

Living Room

Living space, McCormick House, Mies van der Rohe, Claudia Weber, Experiment in Living, 150 South Cottage Hill Ave

Living room, dining room, playroom. Photograph: Jim Prinz.

1950s Interior in the Children’s Wing

1950s interior of Mies van der Rohe's McCormick House, Hedrich Blessing archive.

From left: View into Rose’s room (Isabella Gardner’s daughter from her first marriage); open door next to it leads to Danny’s room (Isabella Gardner’s son from her second marriage); the room might have been shared with Robert H. McCormick’s sons (from his first marriage) when they visited their father; adjacent closed door indicates location of bathroom; small living room / dining room / play area; kitchen (1950s). Source: Hedrich Blessing Archive / Chicago Historical Society.

1950s Interior in the Children’s Wing

Children’s Wing of the McCormick House in the 1950s: Kitchen area with small living room / dining room / play area in the back. Behind the elm paneled wall with bookshelves is a storage space that could also be accessed from the outside. Source: Hedrich Blessing Archive / Chicago Historical Society.

Exquisite Corpse / All Cards

House Cards 1-26 (See all cards)Read More

Exquisite Corpse / About

Active Exquisite Corpse Game, McCormick House, Claudia Weber

Card players are using the Discourse and Ephemerals decks. 

Exquisite Corpse was inspired by the French Surrealist game Cadavre Exquis (1925), in which players add to a drawing of a body without being able to see what others have contributed. In this project, the game focuses on architecture and has been modified into a card collection consisting of four sets, each of which relates to a different aspect. The first card set, HOUSE, depicts the McCormick House’s trajectory from a private residence to a museum space taking a non-linear approach. The second set, CONTEXTS, reflects on the social structures within which the architect, the house, and its residents have been—and continue to be—embedded. The third set, DISCOURSE, is composed of key words taken from the literature that addresses Mies van der Rohe’s body of work. The fourth set, EPHEMERALS, pays tribute to all things ambiguous or uncertain. (…) Read More

Reading List

McCormick House, reading list, Claudia Weber, Mies van der Rohe

A Friend’s Visit

Late breakfast, 150 South Cottage Hill Ave

Late Sunday breakfast at the McCormick House.

The Threat to the Next America

Printed out copy of the Elizabeth Gordon's article The Threat

See full article: Gordon-1953-Threat

Table Top

Claudia Weber, Table (2019), hollow-core door, 36″ x 80″ x 1.25″, balsa wood, black artist tape, changing prints on bond paper (34.5″ x 78.5″), plexiglass, trestles, chairs (old, new, bought and found).

Enlarged ad that was printed in Business Week to announce the April 1953 issue of House Beautiful magazine and its feature article “The threat to the next America” by editor Elizabeth Gordon. In this text, Gordon makes the claim that (European) Modernist architecture in general and Mies van der Rohe’s architecture more specifically is ‘foreign to native design,’ and detrimental to the American lifestyle.

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Architecture as Test Image

Elm paneling in the McCormick House (Photographer: Claudia Weber). Inserted photograph: Onyx wall in the Villa Tugendhat, Brno, Czech Republic (Photographer: David Židlický).

Claudia Weber
150 South Cottage Hill Ave, Elmhurst, IL 60126 

Inspired by the transformation of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s McCormick House from a private residence (1952–1991) to a museum space (since 1997), this project experiments with the question of what happens when both of these purposes—living and exhibiting—take place simultaneously: What becomes of life (and living) when it is put on display? And how is an exhibition concept shaped when it is pulled into the daily routines of life? How will the conditions of this specific house—Mies van der Rohe’s modernist design, the more recent infrastructural changes, and the museum’s policies related to the activities that can take place there—influence this experiment? And what effects or responses will the temporary occupation of this building elicit? To find out, I am moving into the former Children’s Wing of the house from February 16th to April 14th, 2019, during which time I am living, working and exhibiting there. This prolonged engagement with Mies van der Rohe’s prototype, including my ongoing research into the contexts of the house, builds the base from which I will reflect more broadly on the relationships between architecture, art, and life. (…)Read More

Former Kitchen Area

Former kitchen area, McCormick House, Claudia Weber, Stainless Steel, 30

Claudia Weber, Stainless Steel (2019), 30″ x 60″ x 2″, rare earth magnets, wires, dowel 

Living in the McCormick House (Former Children’s Wing)

Photographer: Jim Prinz

Exhibition Checklist 2/16

Checklist 2-16, Claudia Weber, McCormick House


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Exquisite Corpse

Claudia Weber, Exquisite Corpse: Card from the Ephemeral deck

Exquisite Corpse: Card from the Ephemerals deck

Horizontal Considerations

McCormick House, Mies van der Rohe, 150 South Cottage Hill Ave, bed

Installation Days

Moving into the McCormick House, Claudia Weber, compressed mattress

Mater/space/time relations: Compression/decompression and unrolling/rolling up as spatial practices and time consuming daily routines. 

Experiment in Living

McCormick House, Experiment in Living diagram, Claudia Weber

Move-in Day

Two vastly different houses from 1952; two move-ins 67 years apart. Claudia Weber, McCormick House

On June 23, 1952, reporters followed John and Philomena Dougherty (photo cropped) as the first family who moved into their new home in Levittown, PA. Mies van der Rohe’s McCormick House was also built in 1952, but the houses’ programs and contexts couldn’t have been more different. The Levitt house was part of an affordable housing initiative on a massive scale by developer Levitt and Sons Inc., who had just built Levittown, NY, and continued to promote more traditional housing styles, creating starkly homogeneous towns from scratch. The McCormick House was built by an architect in a modernist style for a wealthy client as a prototype. But the McCormick House was also Mies van der Rohe’s attempt to develop a prefabricated structure that would allow the simultaneous construction of several units on dedicated lots in suburban areas. (…)Read More

Former Children’s Wing

McCormick House in between exhibitions, Claudia Weber

These photographs of the former Children’s Wing of the McCormick House were taken in between exhibitions. The current layout differs significantly from Mies van der Rohe’s original floor plan from 1952. Several wood panels have been removed and others reconfigured. The photographs show clockwise from top left: the former kitchen area; the former living room / playroom / girl’s room / utility area; the hallway to the maid’s room; the boys’ room.

Testing a Prototype

I will move into one wing of the McCormick House for two months as part of an experimental exhibition project. 

A House in Different States

Transportation of McCormick House

Sources: Unknown

The third family who lived in the McCormick House, the Ficks, sold it to the museum in 1991. The house was gutted and transported in 1994 from 299 Prospect Ave to 150 South Cottage Hill Ave.

Relocation of the McCormick House in 1994

Relocation route of McCormick House, Claudia Weber

The house was sold in 1991 by its last occupants, Ray and Mary Ann Fick, to the Elmhurst Fine Arts and Civic Center Foundation, and in 1994 the steel structure was cut in half and each transported by truck from its original location at 299 Prospect Avenue to the new campus for the planned Elmhurst Art Museum (EAM) in Wilder Park. 

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Mies van der Rohe’s Prototype Home

McCormick House, original property, 299 Prospect Ave, Elmhurst

Source: Hedrich Blessing Archive / Chicago Historical Society

Mies van der Rohe built the McCormick House (1952) in Elmhurst, IL, as a prototype for prefab housing that then could be developed on a larger scale in the western Chicagoland area. (…)

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