We are students at the Illinois Institute of Technology in a design build studio with the rare opportunity to actually build the project we have designed. Most architecture school projects are hypothetical and only end up being printed on paper. Our project is a small exhibition center on the site of the world famous Farnsworth House designed by Mies van der Rohe. The Farnsworth house is owned and operated as a museum by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. This project fulfills the current need for more display space at the Farnsworth House visitor center and involves the creation of a handicap accessible path to the Farnsworth House. Under the leadership of our professor, Frank Flury, our team has submitted permit drawings to secure a building permit and now we now look to secure fund-raising and donations of the construction materials necessary to construct the building. This building will take a lot more than $10,000 to build and we are relying on both cash (kickstarter) and in-kind donations of material. Thanks for taking a look at our page, take a moment to read about our project. Any help you can give is greatly appreciated. Thanks again.
On September 14, 2008 rain poured down on the Fox River valley in Plano, IL, causing the river to spill its banks and flood Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House. The flood damaged the house and the furniture within, specifically a large wardrobe that was added to the house at the request of Mies’s client Edith Farnsworth. Unlike the other, smaller pieces of furniture in the house, the 12’ x 6’ x 2’ wardrobe is too large to be removed from the house in case of another flood. With the existing visitor center not able to accommodate this large piece of furniture a need exists for additional exhibition space to temporarily display this historic piece of furniture until a mitigation plan can be implemented that offers permanent protection for the house and its contents. Whitney French, director of the Farnsworth House sought the help of a design-build professor at Mies’s own Illinois Institute of Technology. Professor Frank Flury has led many successful design-build studios at IIT including the recent AIA award-winning Field Chapel in Boedigheim, Germany. Professor Flury presented the project to his students and over the past two semesters the team has designed an adaptable exhibition space that solves the Farnsworth House’s need to display the wardrobe and can also be used for events such as lectures and exhibitions.
Early concepts for the design were rectilinear and simple, drawing on the Farnsworth House for their inspiration. After many iterations, critiques from their professor, and advice from practicing architects and engineers, the team decided it would be more appropriate to design in the local vernacular, something more similar to the farm buildings that are scattered over the landscape. Since the new exhibition space is situated about a half-mile from the Farnsworth House, adjacent to the visitor center and visible from the road, a farm building seemed appropriate. Another problem the design team looked to solve was how to provide handicap accessibility to the Farnsworth House. In the end the studio designed a contemporary round barn with a new gently sloping path circling the “Barnsworth” on its way to the Farnsworth House. The design is simple and compact; the round floor plan creates a natural exhibition space. The interior walls are segmented while the exterior walls feature vertical board and batten siding to create a continuous curve. The walls are free from openings providing extensive display space while a simple and elegant lantern sits atop the space to allow the penetration of natural light.
Previous Design-Builds at IIT
Professor Frank Flury’s unique method of teaching architectural design through hands on construction has led to the creation of IIT’s Design/Build Studios. In Professor Flury’s studio students design and actually build a project providing a unique opportunity to experience all phases of a project from initial concepts all the way through finish carpentry. Flury’s education and training as a Master Carpenter (Handelskammer in Freiburg im Breisgau, 1985) and a Master of Architecture (University of Karlsruhe, FH, Germany, 1992) as well as his extensive experience provide a backbone for the studio. His students learn to design constructible, efficient, and sustainable projects as he stresses modularity and ease of construction in his critiques. All of this has led to many successful design build studios and has earned Flury national acclaim. Check out these projects:
2009: Field Chapel, Boedigheim, Germany. Read more about it here: http://www.archdaily.com/37921/field-chapel-in-boedigheim-students-of-the-college-of-architecture-at-the-illinois-institute-of-technology-ecker-architekten/
2008: Meadow Studio at Ragdale Artists community in Lake Foest, IL. Read more about it here: http://www.ragdale.org/meadowstudio
2006: IITKatrina: A multipurpose building for the Lynn Meadows Discovery Center, a children’s museum in Gulfport, Mississippi. This IIT funded initiative replaced facilities that were lost in the devastation of Hurricane Katrina
2005: Willie Bell Harris Residence, Hale County, Alabama (Auburn University, Rural Studio): Director of second year undergraduates to design and build an innovative, sustainable low-income house in the form of a “Double Wide.” Received Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture Collaborative Practice Award for this work.
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