Option A: Elevate

Option A: Elevate

    Elevate the house and terrace in situ with additional fill placed under and around the house

    From the Silman Report

    Option A elevates the house and re-grades the landscape such that the house will be in its original location but above the flood levels. The work will involve exposing the existing foundations, temporarily jacking the entire structure so that the foundations can be demolished, and temporarily relocating the house off of its current footprint so the site can be re-graded. Nine additional feet of fill would be added to the site, new footings would be inserted to ensure an even bearing stratum beneath the building, and the house would be placed on top of these new foundations (at the new elevation).


    VIDEO: Robert Silman Describes Option A – Elevate

    The remaining land surrounding the house would be re-graded to properly transition the site lines, vegetation and walkways. The central utility shaft would also be lifted and altered. With this option, the house remains in its original location on the site and maintains its proximity to the Fox River. The majority of the work would revolve around landscaping with minimal work done on the structure. When completed, both the house and lower terrace will be raised above the assumed 100-year flood occurrence level, reducing (and most likely eliminating) their likelihood of being flooded in the future.

    The major disadvantage to this option is that it completely transforms the structure’s interaction with the site and river. Re-grading will change how the structure and site were originally envisioned. As one stands in the house and looks southward, one will noticeably be elevated above the Fox River. Requiring an intense amount of fill soil, this higher elevation will also cut off visitors’ experiences with the boathouse and the feeling of physically interacting with the river.


  1. emilio bignolini August 18, 2015 at 4:15 am - Reply

    option A + C = four additional feet of fill + 5 or 6 feet of hydraulic vertical transletion.
    preserve the relationship between the house the river and the boathouse + secures the building structure during heavy floods but with a less expensive.

  2. Roderick Scott September 2, 2014 at 4:57 pm - Reply

    FEMA discourages fill in the floodway. Fill in the floodplain is discouraged and a movement across the nation known as “No Adverse Impact – NAI” is explaining how fill in the floodplain makes the flood waters go some where else, like your neighbor. We want to flood hazard mitigate this building and not adversely impact others. This is my least favorite solution.

  3. David A. Zahn September 2, 2014 at 4:11 pm - Reply

    There are concrete building that you just add water and inflate.

    I’m sure walls could be created also and faster than sand bagging for example.
    The ready made waterproof walls could be put in place as the water rises then demolished after.

  4. Mac Birch May 30, 2014 at 12:27 pm - Reply

    Rather than raising the house to the full flood-avoidance elevation proposed here, you might want to consider raising it only three or four feet above the current terrace and floor elevations. You would then supplement it with a system of 8-foot high removable freestanding perimeter flood panels (such as “Musclewall” and other vendors) to provide sufficient protection from the 500-year flood.
    Advantages to this “hybrid” solution would be…
    –Minimum impact to the context of the house on the site.
    –Sight lines and views to the river from within the house would be virtually unchanged.
    –Minor impact on roads, pathways, and accessibility to the house.
    –Far, far less fill would be required. This smaller amount of fill might even be available onsite in the area currently occupied by the deteriorating tennis court.
    The main disadvantage to his approach is the need to erect the panels on fairly short notice, possibly during inclement weather. Removable panel systems are designed for quick assembly, and I’m sure that with proper training and practice this obstacle could be overcome.

  5. Bill McGrath May 23, 2014 at 2:10 pm - Reply

    This needs to be the option, in my mind, for several reasons. I ask myself “What would have the architect done, if he knew of the situation?’ I read the descrption of the project as set forth in the Prerservation Trust documents, and find it interesting. There is little mention of the river, or the views of the river in terms of height. The angle of the house vis-a-vis the river is noted and is clearly crtitical. But the real “setting” seems to be the “pastoral” sense created by the surrounding landscaping and the peace and quiet that were there at the time, and which rule out relocation (off or elsewhere on the site) in my mind.

    Yes, the building is clearly to be a “ground-hugge”r, but that sense will absolutley be there when one steps down what 1 or 2 steps onto firm flat ground even if that general area is now higjher than before. If done correctly the view of the house from at least a reasonble distance will still be as an object emerging from and inn synch with the grouind, not breaking out of it or plopped on top it.

    Though the house will be higher than the river than it is now, the river itself has such an incredibly strong “flatness”, volume and continued sense of direction due to the current (remember how important the relationship of direction is) that 9 feet just won’t make a significant difference.

    The last reason for this option is that future genrations shouldn’t be burdend with such an expensive piece of equipment to test, maintain and/or replace in order to try to recreate what turned out to be a design flaw. The context from which future observers come will always be so different tha the context from which the house was designed (unless they are from remote prairie areas) that the small change in height, if done “flatly” will not interfere with the “other placeness” that the house will have for them. Thanks for the opportunity.

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