Bohlin Cywinski Jackson

High Meadow Dwellings at Fallingwater

Mill Run, USA - 2016
27. February 2017

High Meadow Dwellings at Fallingwater

2016
Mill Run, Pennsylvania

Client
Western Pennsylvania Conservancy

Architect
Bohlin Cywinski Jackson
Pittsburgh, PA

Design Principal
Peter Q. Bohlin, FAIA

Principal in Charge
William D. Loose, AIA

Project Manager/Designer
Bill James

Project Resource
Kent Suhrbier, AIA

Landscape Architecture
Bohlin Cywinski Jackson and Fallingwater Summer Interns

Structural Engineer
K2 Engineering

MEP/FP Engineer
Iams Consulting

General Contractor
Fairchance Construction

Site Area
66 Acres

Building Areas
Total Addition: 3,025 sf
Enclosed Addition/Dwelling Units: 1,165 sf
Screened Porch Addition: 1,260 sf
Exterior Deck Addition: 235 sf
Exterior Ramps: 365 sf

Photographs
Nic Lehoux, Alexander Denmarsh

Drawings
Bohlin Cywinski Jackson
In the summer months, the Fallingwater Institute hosts residencies for adults and students interested in using "architecture as a tool for learning and personal transformation." Participants get once-in-a-lifetime experiences of Frank Lloyd Wright's classic house and it surroundings. Four dwelling units designed by Pittsburgh's Bohlin Cywinski Jackson serve as a home base for the residencies. The architects answered a few questions about the project, which is an addition to a 1950s cabin on an adjacent historic farm.
Please provide an overview of the project.
High Meadow is located on a historic farm adjacent to Frank Lloyd Wright’s renowned Fallingwater residence, and serves as home base for students of Fallingwater Institute’s summer residency programs in architecture, art, and design.
What are the main ideas and inspirations influencing the design of the building?
Shelter | In | Between:
 High Meadow was conceived to be interstitial: between the forest and the field; between the meadow and the sky; between the shadows and the views. The structure perches lightly between the natural systems of this western Pennsylvania hillside in a simple posture that integrates with the path of the sun, the draw of the winds, and the flow of the watershed. Faithful to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy’s mission to restore, preserve, and foster an appreciation of the natural world, these four cabins complement their rural setting in both form and function, and provide students of all ages the opportunity to study and experience the beauty of the surrounding landscape.
How does the design respond to the unique qualities of the site?
Positioned between forest and field, four modest dwellings with simple wood interiors and framed vistas of the surrounding hilltops rest lightly above ground on a network of nimble steel columns and delicate tectonics, imparting minimal disturbance to the site. The building’s main entry welcomes visitors into a central screened porch, which joins the new architecture to an existing 1950s split-level cabin and serves as the outdoor gathering and dining space. A horizontal spruce screen — harvested and milled on site — extends from the cabin and continues along the walkway leading to the dwellings. The screen’s curated openings create dappled light and glimpses of the adjacent woods. As one continues along the walkway, the screen dissolves, extending toward the meadow and a path leading to Fallingwater.
Was the project influenced by any trends in energy-conservation, construction, or design?
The building leverages the natural systems to reduce and, in some cases, eliminate the need for mechanical systems. The semi-conditioned sleeping units are reduced in size while the screened porch and breezeway are increased to serve as the retreat’s gathering, teaching, and meeting spaces. 

The sleeping units are compact, highly insulated boxes that are naturally ventilated in the summer and tempered with radiant floor heat in the spring and fall. The shrouds to the south of each unit are shaped to carefully control the summer sun but also provide privacy. The window wall contains a low awning and tall casement window that opens into the summer breezes while operable vents adjacent to the screened entry doors draw the cool valley breezes through the units and across the shaded breezeway.

The spaces are all designed to be daylit supplemented in the evening by modest LED cove lighting that grazes the wood ceilings for dinner, study, and the nightly porch gathering.
What products or materials have contributed to the success of the completed building?
The new structures use the existing house and the resources of the site, and modestly add only what is needed. Materials and finishes are deliberately simple and durable. Cabin exteriors are clad in cedar stained shale gray. Cork flooring is used within the units and bathrooms, while shower surrounds are lined in Pennsylvania slate. Built-in shelving and furniture is made of plywood, lending a sparse elegance to the space.

The marine grade, BCX plywood walls and ceilings and cork floors adapt with the seasons inside the units while regional black locust decking provides a natural, durable surface for porches and decks. Several non-native Norway spruce trees were removed at the forest edge to accommodate the construction of the addition. These trees were milled and dried on-site as rough sawn boards. The blackened wood slat wall re-uses these boards “as-is,” whole and halved with a natural pine-pitch finish.

Email interview conducted by John Hill.
Site Plan
Floor Plan
Exploded Axonometric
Sketch

High Meadow Dwellings at Fallingwater

2016
Mill Run, Pennsylvania

Client
Western Pennsylvania Conservancy

Architect
Bohlin Cywinski Jackson
Pittsburgh, PA

Design Principal
Peter Q. Bohlin, FAIA

Principal in Charge
William D. Loose, AIA

Project Manager/Designer
Bill James

Project Resource
Kent Suhrbier, AIA

Landscape Architecture
Bohlin Cywinski Jackson and Fallingwater Summer Interns

Structural Engineer
K2 Engineering

MEP/FP Engineer
Iams Consulting

General Contractor
Fairchance Construction

Site Area
66 Acres

Building Areas
Total Addition: 3,025 sf
Enclosed Addition/Dwelling Units: 1,165 sf
Screened Porch Addition: 1,260 sf
Exterior Deck Addition: 235 sf
Exterior Ramps: 365 sf

Photographs
Nic Lehoux, Alexander Denmarsh

Drawings
Bohlin Cywinski Jackson

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