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Hydraulic jacks could lift Farnsworth House above floods

A £1.8 million system of hydraulic jacks has been proposed to rescue Mies van der Rohe’s iconic Farnsworth House near Chicago from repeated flooding

The owner of the high-profile building is considering a range of options to protect the steel and glass retreat which is next to the flood-prone Fox River.

In the past two decades the single-storey Farnsworth House has been flooded three times by the river. Water levels reached almost half a metre above floor level after Hurricane Ike in 2008

The owner, National Trust for Historic Preservation believes occasionally raising the house above flood waters may allow the masterpiece to safely stay in its original setting – according to The Chicago Tribune.

The ambitious scheme would see Farnsworth House temporarily relocated while the ground beneath the building is excavated to create a reservoir and space for the hydraulics system.

The bold proposal is one of three options which the trust will present to preservationists this week ahead of a planned public meeting later in the month.

Trust president Stephanie Meeks told The Chicago Tribune: ‘It’s concerning to us that the house has already flooded a number of times. Given the research, we feel compelled as the stewards of this property to take that threat seriously and consider what our options are.’

Mies van der Rohe completed the140m2 weekend house in 1951 for Chicago paediatrician Edith Farnsworth.

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