Sometime at the end of 2018, I bid on a job at the historic “Harry Goodrich House,” one of the first architectural treasures built in Oak Park, Illinois, by legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

My first memory of the property was walking towards the front porch, overwhelmed by the home’s magnificent exterior detail. A gray-haired gentleman with a charismatic smile greeted me.

Adam Mufich

He reached out to shake my hand and said, “Hi, my name is Mark Donovan. I will be the best and worst customer you have ever had.”

Little did I know that he wasn’t joking. We stood at the front door for a few minutes exchanging formalities. Then we headed down to the basement for my first glimpse of the engineering masterpiece.

As we entered a small mechanical room, and I was immediately in awe. I was maybe even a little overwhelmed by the sheer mechanical perfection that filled every square inch of the room.

I quickly realized that the home had geothermal heating and air conditioning. The system uses hot water heat.

I was trying to make mental notes as Donovan introduced me to the dozens of low and high-temperature zone valves meticulously mounted to a rack on the wall. A Water Furnace water-to-water heat pump provides heat to an Ergomax reverse indirect buffer tank. The home’s domestic hot water is preheated through a heat exchanger in the Ergomax tank.

Mark Donovan owns a Frank Lloyd Wright Home.
Keeping the house historically relevant while modernizing the
comfort system required careful design and planning. On the
right side of the photo is a “punch list” that A-Team followed
to ensure the project was done right.

The water returns to full temperature by running through a brazed plate heat exchanger fed by a condensing wall-hung boiler. Two more water-to-water split heat pumps are mounted to a custom rack.

One of the heat pumps connects to a Unico high-velocity system, which serves the basement and first floor. The second split has a similar setup, which serves the second and third floors. Zoning for both forced air systems uses an Arzel pneumatic zone system.

The home’s IAQ is on point, with two RenewAire ERVs providing ventilation and efficient bathroom exhaust. Both high-velocity air handlers have media filters and a bypass HEPA installed for advanced filtration. The home also has two Nortec (now Condair) steam humidifiers installed to help maintain the proper humidity in the dry winter months.

Another wall-hung boiler is across from the mechanical room, which provides heat for the snow melt system. Around the corner is a tiny closet with thermostats mounted to a hinged panel.

This control room was later hidden behind a secret hinged bookshelf like the ones you would expect to see in a James Bond movie.

You can wirelessly adjust the thermostats in the control room by either a phone or tablet via an app by Tekmar.