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Thursday, April 16th, 2009

Mies and the Giant Zip-Lock Bag…

Becky

Posted by Becky | View all posts by Becky
1 Comment »

As many of you know, The Farnsworth House has suffered great damage from the latest round of flooding in September 2008. The house was built in a floodplain, but Mies thought the water would only reach the floor in the most severe of circumstances. Apparently, he was wrong. The Farnsworth House site asks for flood mitigation ideas, but they also include a “heard it” list, which had me in stitches. I just had to share it with you:

Before you get started though…

We have, over the course of our five years managing this property, continually investigated solutions to the threat posed by the river.  To that end, we begin this discussion with a list of previously proposed ideas:

1. Placement of a pontoons under the building
2. Longer column extensions that slide out of their footings
3. Szikorsky Helicopter to lift the 300 ton house
4. Hydraulic jacks to raise it in place
5. Building up the site flood plain by 12 ft.
6. Move the house to high ground
7. Retractable flood walls surrounding the house.
8. Waterproofing everything inside the house (vinyl upholstery, plastic laminate wood?)
9. Inflatable raft under the house
10. Internal sandbags around furniture and core
11. Dikes and dams
12. Moats
13. Fixed Moment Frame below the soil
14. Sandbags
15. Temporary flood walls
16. Reverse aquarium designed to rise out of the ground
17. Giant Zip lock bag
18. Steel waterproof shutters

When considering these ideas we evaluate them against the following criteria:
• Cost
• Sensitivity to Preservation Initiatives
• Practicality

These are the same criteria the experts will use in considering your ideas.

The problem for me in finding a solution is that the house is so connected to the site. Moving it changes everything; the planned vistas, the way it relates to the topography, the idea of the floating house in the floodplain. Then again, I’m trained as a landscape architect so I am very biased towards the relationship of built work to site. If you have any bright ideas that do not involve a Sikorsky helicopter or the world’s largest Zip-Lock bag (hey Zip-Lock, have I got a marketing idea for you…), click here to submit it. For some reason, “Rollin’ on a River” is going through my head and I’m picturing some sort of Transformer action happening with the house and a tall stacks riverboat…and now casinos are now entering my mind. Not good.

  • All photos from farnsworthhouse.org. The photos on that site are stunning, go check out the gallery if you need some inspiration today.
  • Second photo by Jon miller, Hedrich Blessing
  • Third photo by Tigerhill Studio
  • Fourth photo by LPCI
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