The Farnsworth House by Mies van der Rohe’s is one the most iconic modern residences in the United States. Situated in Plano, Illinois, near the Fox River, its location is nothing short of picturesque. However, what may not be known is that due to its location, it has been subject to the wrath of the local river. Specifically, on September 14, 2008 a torrential rain storm caused the Fox River to overflow and flood the house, resulting in extensive damage to the interior, furniture, and the large wardrobe of Edith Farnsworth. The IIT Design Build Studio led by Professor Frank Flury was sought out by Farnsworth House director Whitney French to distill a solution to house the 12’ x 6’ x 2’ wardrobe that was unable to be accommodated in the visitor center. More details after the break.
Over the past 2 semesters, Professor Flury and his students have designed an “adaptable exhibition space that solves the Farnsworth House’s needs of displaying the wardrobe and can also host parties and display other exhibitions.” The preliminary schematic designs produced recall the rectilinear forms of the existing house. However, through critical feedback from local practitioners and members of the IIT community, the solution was progressively distilled to a more appropriate contextual design that merged seamlessly with the local vernacular of farm buildings. Other obstacles that required attention was the mitigation of a steeply sloped path to the Farnsworth House that impeded handicap access.
The resultant design – Barnsworth – incorporates a gently sloping path that encircles the new project. Utilizing a circular floor plan, a natural exhibition space is fostered. Construction is achieved through segmented interior walls, with the exterior walls featuring vertical board and batten siding. A clerestory located at the central peak allows for diffuse light to wash the interior spaces with light, whilst simultaneously protecting the articles of clothing from UV degradation.
Help the students of the Illinois Institute of Technology build the small exhibition center and reach their goal of $10,000 by March 11th by contributing to their Kickstarter campaign. See more information on the IIT Design Build Studio here.