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Brandywine Conservancy and Museum of Art – IDA Flood Remediation & Museum Improvements

In September 2021, the Brandywine Conservancy and Museum of Art faced extensive flood damage as rising waters from the Brandywine River inundated their main building’s ground floor, disrupting operations and critical systems. Wohlsen Construction led restoration efforts, swiftly restoring HVAC, electrical, and security systems to enable the museum to continue events. Through strategic milestones, including constructing an elevated mechanical building, the collaboration aimed to recover and enhance resilience against future floods, safeguarding key systems and ensuring the museum’s long-term functionality.


Brandywine Conservancy & Museum of Art


General Contractor


Chadds Ford, PA


9,500 square feet - renovation 900 square feet - new




June 2022

“The construction team was organized, professional, and easy to work with through all phases of this project. ”

Virginia A Logan, Executive Director & CEO of Brandywine Conservancy and Museum of Art

Flooding from Floor to Ceiling

In early September 2021, the Brandywine Conservancy and Museum of Art (BCMA) suffered significant flood damage to the ground floor level of their main building. As the nearby Brandywine River rose in elevation by roughly 22 feet, the water broke through some of the lower level windows of the building and filled the ground floor level from floor to ceiling with water. The damage from the flooding was significant, impacting various administrative and community outreach areas within the building and putting critical HVAC and electrical systems on the ground floor out of commission. With the busy holiday season quickly approaching, the Wohlsen team was charged with helping BCMA get back up and running while also helping BCMA develop and implement a plan so that they could come back stronger, more resilient, and better prepared to handle future challenges that the Brandywine River might bring.

Remediation Efforts Begin

Wohlsen Construction was brought on-site in early October and tasked with overseeing the restoration of the affected building areas and the mechanical, electrical, fire alarm, and security systems. The team’s initial focus was getting the building back up and running so that BCMA could host its annual holiday train exhibit and critter sale, a significant funding source for the organization. Working quickly, the team was able to get all the HVAC, electrical, fire alarm, and security systems refurbished or replaced and back online so that the museum could open. A temporary wooden ADA ramp was also installed at the front entrance to provide accessibility since the original ramp on the ground floor could not be utilized. With these efforts, the museum could host its critter sale and holiday events on time and with minimal impact on the functioning of the events.

Meeting Critical Milestones

The schedule was critical for the Ida Flood Remediation & Museum Improvements project. BCMA had some critical milestones that needed to be met by the Wohlsen team so that the impact on the museum’s ongoing and planned operations was minimized. The first milestone focused on getting the building back up and operational, on temporary power, so BCMA could open its doors to the public. Once this first milestone was achieved, the Wohlsen team focused on meeting the next one; a fully operational building in time for BCMA’s new “Gatecrashers” artwork installation. This milestone involved the construction of a new 950-square-foot mechanical building and transiting the main building to permanent power. Over the course of a few weeks, the team prepared and conducted three electrical shutdowns of the building as they worked to get it fully on permanent power. Each electrical switchover was highly coordinated and completed outside of the building’s hours of operation to minimize the impact on ongoing operations. The work that the team completed allowed BCMA to prove they could offer the right conditions for paintings, and the installation could take place as planned. 

Building Block Stronger and Preparing for the Future

After the flood waters had resided, BCMA knew that they not only had to focus on getting operations back up and running but also needed to ensure the entire campus was better prepared to handle future problems the Brandywine River might pose. The Wohlsen team worked closely with BCMA to create an overall plan/design that offered a more permanent solution to recover from the flooding while preparing for potential future events. One element of this design was moving the mechanical components of the main building to a newly constructed mechanical building. The new 950-square-foot building was constructed to be roughly seven feet above grade at the highest point on the property. This building has two new chillers, electrical panels, and a new BAS control panel. By moving these critical systems away from the ground floor level and to an elevated platform, they are better protected from potential flooding. This protection means that moving forward, there is less risk of these critical systems malfunctioning or getting flooded, meaning BCMA should be able to prevent another shutdown in the future.

Key Partners

Tevebaugh Architecture
Aegis Property Group
Trinity Subsurface Engineering, LLC
Harvard Environmental, Inc.
Bruce E. Brooks & Associates

Project Features

Installation of temporary power and cooling
Limited demolition
New fire-rated corridor
New elevated plant for electrical gear and chillers
New electrical services


Award of Excellence - Delaware Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors

Construction Excellence Award - Delaware Contractors Association

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