Fighting Flooding at Farnsworth

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Farnsworth House

While merging seamlessly with nature was part of Mies van der Rohe’s vision for the Farnsworth House, sometimes the iconic home gets too close to nature. An ongoing issue with flooding peaked in 1996 when floodwaters climbed 5 feet inside the historic house.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation extensively researched a number of flood mitigation options – including barrier walls, building up the house and moving the house – and rejected them all.

“All of those options would change the home’s relationship to the river and affect the horizontal planes of house and land,” Farnsworth House Executive Director Maurice Parrish explains.

Instead, he says, “We decided on a hydraulic lift system that will be buried under the house and lift the house above the highest possible flood levels. It’s a proven technology, and we will only need to use it when the house is threatened. This will allow us to maintain Mies van der Rohe’s original placement and vision.”

The Trust has begun organizing a major fundraising effort to defray the costs of the hydraulic lift. To learn more, visit farnsworthproject.org.

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