Louis Sullian bank threatened by flood control plan

You might recall that the Louis Sullivan-designed bank in Cedar Rapids suffered flood damage over the summer. Though it survived the floods, it is now threatened with demolition, as part of a flood control program that will also claim numerous other historic buildings in Cedar Rapids. The Chicago Tribune’s Skyline blog has more details, as does Lynn Becker’s blog.


The basic plan is: more walls. Build huge, expensive, land-devouring, building-obliterating levees, then hope and pray that they hold up as floods grow increasingly large and devastating, thanks primarily to these self-same levees which have hemmed in rivers from their natural flood plains.

The first commenter on the Skyline blog has it right: it is farmland, not cities, which should be sacrificed when the waters rise. It would be far easier to compensate farmers for crop loss (and preemptively provide them with the means to ensure their livestock, equipment and homes can survive such floods) than to repeatedly rebuild hundreds of flooded buildings in urban areas. The way to “control” floods is to allow them onto their natural flood plains, not to attempt to contain them within ever-higher walls which just pass the problem on downstream.

An online petition is collecting signatures from people opposed to the plan; you can view and sign it here.

Louis Sullivan bank in Iowa suffers flood damage

A Chicago Tribune blog reports that Louis Sullivan’s Peoples Savings Bank in Cedar Rapids, Iowa has sustained an unknown amount of flood damage, with several feet of water entering the bank.

Peoples Savings Bank, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

The bank is one of a series of late-career works by Sullivan, scattered across the Midwest; it is currently a Wells Fargo location. I visited it in 2004, but was unable to go inside as my visit occurred on a weekend. It’s less than a block away from the river which runs through the center of town.

At least one Flickrite has a photo of the floodwaters surrounding the bank.

The bank is far from the only architectural victim of the floods; much of the city’s old downtown is reported to have sustained damage.