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The Robie House, located in

Chicago, Illinois, is one of


Frank Lloyd Wright's most
famous examples of a "prairie
house design.

Frank Lloyd Wrights

Robie House
Case Study #2

It was commissioned in 1906


by Frederick C. Robie, a
businessman and inventor.

The house was completed in


1910. It was, as the client
wanted: a structure with
overhanging eaves, open
rooms, and abundant daylight.

George Tomisser
David Shourd
Jim Herndon

1 person = 65
G/day

The Robie house consists of


three long narrow floors and
wide overhanging eaves that
shed rainwater protecting the
inhabitants.

Fixture

The reason we chose the


Robie was for Wrights
extensive use of gutters and
drain systems to deal with
stormwater.

Fixture

#
5

WSFU: Cold

WSFU: Tot.

13.3

46.5

1.4

13.3

18.6

NA

NA

NA

NA

NA

13.3

18.6

Bath

4.2

13.3

55.86

Washer Machine

1.4

13.3

18.6

Dish Washer

NA

1.4

1.4

13.3

18.6

Total

17

Fixture

1.4

13.3

GPM

GPY

Faucet

2.2

17,160

Shower Head

2.5

18,250

0.5

3.5

13.4

1.4

13.4

18.76

Toilet

2.2

NA

11

13.4

147.4

WSFU: Tot.

1.4

GPFU

13.4

GPF
46.9

18.76

Bath

4.2

13.4

56.28

Washer Machine

1.4

13.4

18.76

Dish Washer

NA

1.4

1.4

13.4

18.76

Total

17

24.3

325.62

GPF

3.5

Kitchen Sink

WSFU: Hot

0.5

Stormwater Management
GPFU

0.5

Toilet
Shower

WSFU: Cold

5
1

These are the conventional amounts of water that we determined the Robie House more than likely
consumed when it was being used regularly as a residence and little or no consideration was given to water
conservation.

WSFU: Hot

0.5

Sink

We estimated the gallons per day from MEEB table 9.2, planning guide for water supply to determine the
number of gallons per day that would be used per person. We then used table 10.15 water supply fixture
units to determine the gallons used per fixture unit.

Conserving Water Using Grey Water For Toilet Flushing


Sink

: 325 G/day

Kitchen Sink

Shower

We were able to visit the site


on a recent field trip where we
were able to document the
various ways the buildings
runoff system works.

x5
people

Total

GPMprop

Ol Frankie was more concerned with moving the water away


from the house as opposed to conserving or making good use
of the stormwater.

In total we were able to


save 147 gallons of
potable water per day

176.76

GPYprop

Total

Gallons
Saved

85,800

0.25

3,900

19,500

66,300

73,000

1.5

10,950

43,800

29,200

63,300

95,500

158,800

These numbers in
gallons per fixture
represent the savings
gained by reusing grey
water in our toilets.

Furthermore, by
utilizing further
conservation methods
such as low flow
faucets and
showerheads we were
able to determine that
we could save almost
100,000 gallons per
year.

These planters collect


water and then allow it
to drain but make no
attempt to reuse it.
Larger drains allow
water that runs off the
roof and onto the patio
areas to drain out into
the yard.

Gutter systems line the roofs and


coincide with the scupper like
drains on the balcony below.
Scuppers allow water that drains off the
roof to penetrate the second level balcony
and continue down to the lower level
where it drains into a stormwater runoff
drain.

In most cases rainwater runs directly into the ground


at the foundation line of the house.

In general this house has been designed to


collect and divert rainwater. With a couple of
modifications this water could be diverted to a
cistern.

Chicago receives 36 inches of rain


annually distributed relatively equally
throughout the year. This climate
makes for ideal conditions to collect
and store rainwater.
Average Monthly Rainfall
inches
4.5
4
3.5
3
2.5
2

4.1

3.8

1.5

3.2

2.8
1.9

3.5

3.1

2.7

2.9

2.6

1.6

0.5
0
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun

This is one of the main drains on the lower


level that culminates in one of the larger
drains.

Taking into account the wide rooflines we had a very large


surface area to collect rainwater as shown below.

Jan
mm
inches

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Aug

Jul

Sep

Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

Jun

Jul

48.2

41.8

72.2

96.6

82.5

103.4

102.7

89.3

78.6

69.7

72.7

64.8

1.9

1.6

2.8

3.8

3.2

4.1

3.5

3.1

Oct

2.7

Nov

2.9

Dec

2.6

Considering the amount of available rainwater we determined the existing


planters and gutter systems illustrated earlier could be adapted to drain to a
central cistern allowing us to capture the majority of rainwater falling on the
roof area.
In order to size the cistern we took

36 inches of rain per year x 5778 sq. ft. of roof area = 29,953,152 cu. In. per year

36 in. per year x 2/3 = 23.76 usable inches

29,953,152 cu. In = 129,667 gallons per year

150 gallons x 30 days = 4500 gallon

129,667 gallons x 2/3(evaporation losses) = 86,000 gallons per year

4500 gallons / 7.48 gallons per cu. ft.

86,000 gallons per year = 235 gallons per day


Greywater needed for toilets = 147 gallons per day

600 cu. ft. cistern


Cistern dimensions: 5x12x10

5778 sq. ft.


Proposed Cistern Location

Conclusion
In Summary the Robie House was designed to deal with storm water but did not tackle the issue of
retention and reusing the rainwater. With a few minor modifications that do not alter the buildings
historic integrity we are able to divert and retain the water in an underground cistern. This tactic
combined with other water conservation measures such as low flow faucets, showerheads and toilets
allow us to decrease the amount of city water used making the Robie House a more environmentally
friendly building.