2015-2016 Preservation as Provocation



The 2015-16 Preservation as Provocation, International Student Design Competition challenges students and multi-disciplinary teams in architecture, preservation, landscape architecture, planning, engineering, sustainable design and other cross-disciplines, to create a new Visitor Center and approach experience for the iconic Farnsworth House by Mies van der Rohe in Plano, Illinois.

Solutions are encouraged to respect the Farnsworth House and site while creating an appropriate orientation and visitor services building(s) that prepares the guest for the Farnsworth experience. Solutions are encouraged to explore the relationship between historic preservation and contemporary design, landscape design, the changing climate and development patterns that result in the worsening flooding conditions, off-grid energy consumption, land use and habitat protection, heritage tourism and the design of public space. The goal of this competition is to explore how the collaboration between existing historic buildings and new design can produce uniquely thoughtful new places that negotiate the relationship between the past and the present. The solution should celebrate the past while optimistically addressing the aesthetic, cultural, spiritual, economic, practical and climactic challenges of our times.

The competition is organized by the American Institute of Architects Historic Resources Committee (AIA/HRC) along with the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA), funded by the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training (NCPTT), a unit of the National Park Service and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

  + “Preservation as Provocation”
      Winners Discuss Designs for the
      Farnsworth House

The Purpose

The Farnsworth House, one of the most important buildings of the twentieth century, is already considered by many an architectural pilgrimage site. This sublime building reflects the architectural past and is a source of inspiration for the present. While it is one of the most studied buildings from the mid-century, it has only recently become a public place. The current visitor center was constructed quickly and affordably to solve immediate visitor service needs but does not reflect the character and quality that Farnsworth represents. Also, as the site programming, staff, and offerings have developed, the current visitors center has become inadequate for current operational needs .  It lacks sufficient space for the proper greeting and orientation of visitors, for visitor amenities and for staff and support functions. 

Creating a design for a new building that must relate in some significant way to an iconic structure presents the designer with multiple challenges. The new building(s) should respectfully express a relationship with the historic, while at the same time rest comfortably in the present and provides insight to the physical and social context of the Farnsworth House and site. The varying relationship, over time, between served and servant spaces is but one example of the critical issues presented by this project that need to be explored. The goal of this competition is to explore how the collaboration between historic buildings and new design can produce uniquely accretive-layered landscapes. Farnsworth House has transitioned from a private retreat home to a thriving cultural site. Re-imagining the Visitors Center secures the social and economic vision of this place that is a setting for arts programming, education and inspiration as well as a dynamic and progressive house museum.


Summer 2015        Competition Announced
Fall 2015                Registration Begins (there is no fee for registration)
March 30, 2016      Registration Deadline
May 11, 2016          Submission Deadline
July 2016                Prize winners chosen by the design jury
Summer 2016         Announcement of competition winners


The design jury will convene in July 2016 to select winning projects and honorable mentions. Winning students, their faculty sponsors, and schools will receive cash prizes totaling $10,000, with distribution as follows:
First Prize                            Second Prize                      Third Prize
Student/Team $3,500           Student/Team $2,250           Student/Team $1,500
Faculty Sponsor $1,500        Faculty Sponsor $750          Faculty Sponsor $500

Prizewinning submissions will be exhibited at the 2017 ACSA Annual Meeting and the 2017 AIA National Convention. A limited number of honorable mentions may also be awarded at the jury’s discretion. Winners and their faculty sponsors will be notified of the competition results directly. A list of winning projects will be posted on the ACSA web site at www.acsaarch.org.


David Waggonner, Waggonner & Ball Architects
Tom Jacobs, Krueck+Sexton Architects
Maurice Parrish, Farnsworth House
Ashley R. Wilson National Trust for Historic Preservation

Additional Links



For questions please contact: 


Eric Wayne Ellis
Monique Thomason
     Allison Smith
Director of Operations and Programs
Programs Manager
Programs Coordinator
202.785.2324 202.785.2324