This page contains answers to Frequently Asked Questions about the Farnsworth House Flood Mitigation Project.
- May 2013 – Wright Water Engineers Hydrology Study
- September 2013 – Thornton Tomasetti Structural Study of Flood Mitigation Options
- November 2013 – Technical Advisory Panel assembled at Farnsworth to discuss Options
- January 2014 – Engineering Enterprises, Inc. Topographic Survey
- February 2014 – GEI Consultants, Inc. Geotechnical Report
- March 2014 – Robert Silman Associates, Feasibility Study
- April 2014 – Peer and Expert Review of Silman Feasibility Study
- April 2014 – Discussion Forum and project review in Chicago by Architects, Engineers, Preservationists, and Landscape professionals
- May 2014 – Chicago and Plano Town Hall events co-sponsored by Landmark Illinois, AIA Chicago, and DOCOMOMO Midwest
- August 2015 – Landmark Illinois’s approval of hydraulic concept
- November 2015 – Chicago Arts Forum presentation
The National Trust and the Technical Advisory Panel looked at nine options that had been suggested as part of the initial study of the issue. Some were variations on the same theme. In addition to the options currently under consideration several others were reviewed and then dismissed including:
- Leaving the house in place and letting it flood, followed by clean-up after the flood event. This was rejected as too damaging to the historic materials and not a good example of stewardship of an iconic landmark.
- Erecting a barrier wall around the house (either permanently or temporarily). This was rejected due to the visual impact on the site (with both options), the need for a large, disruptive foundation for either option, the need for extensive labor to erect the temporary barrier (sometimes with only two hours notice). Since the ground water is between six feet and seven feet below grade, there is also the likely complication of water seepage from below.
- Protecting the house with a buoyant ring that would “float” the house during a flood event. This was rejected due to the intrusive nature of the system on the landscape.
- Moving the house off-site. This was rejected due to the significance of the context of the site to the house and design.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation is making publicly available a number of reports and research documents relating to the Farnsworth House Flood Mitigation Project. These documents provide extensive technical detail on the threat and the potential solutions.
These documents are indexed on the Maps and Documents page of this site.
- Harry Hunderman, FAIA, Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc. Chicago
- Susan MacDonald, Head, Field Projects, The Getty Conservation Institute
- Theodore Prudon, President, DOCOMOMO US
- National Park Service: Stephanie Toothman, Associate Director for Cultural Resources, Partnerships, and Science, Randy Biallas, Chief Architect, Brian Goeken,Chief of the Technical Preservation Services, and Jon Smith, Deputy Associate Director, Preservation Assistance Programs
- The AIA Historic Resources Committee Advisory Group
Engineers/Contractors for Peer Review
- Charles Birnstiel, PE, expert in movable structures
- Simpson Gumpertz & Heger, Peer Review Engineers, Glenn Bell, CEO, William P. Konicki, Senior Principal, Boston, and Milan Vatovec, Senior Principal, New York
- Jack Tribbia, President, Restoration Division, Berglund Construction, Chicago
- Suzanne Germann, Director of Grants and Easements, Landmarks Illinois
- Paul Goldberger, Contributing Editor, Vanity Fair, NTHP Trustee
- T. Gunny Harboe, FAIA, Harboe Architects
- Rachel Leibowitz, PhD, Deputy SHPO, Illinois Historic Preservation Agency
- Dirk Lohan, FAIA, Lohan Anderson Architects
- Vincent L. Michael, PhD, Executive Director, Global Heritage Fund, NTHP Trustee
- Robert Silman, Robert Silman Associates Structural Engineers
- Bradford J. White, Associate Director, Alphawood Foundation Chicago