How Do You Design a Project Next to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater?

Four new, minimalistic dwellings at High Meadow double the capacity for Fallingwater Institute’s summer residency programs.

Sydney Franklin Sydney Franklin

Bohlin Cywinski Jackson (BCJ), the Pennsylvania firm best known for its iconic, glass-encased Apple stores and striking, angled residential projects, has completed four new dwellings at High Meadow, the home base for Fallingwater Institute’s summer residency programs in architecture, art and design.

These simple yet stunning dormitories, located on a historic farm site adjacent to Frank Lloyd Wright’s famous Fallingwater home, are the perfect complement to the world-renowned residence. High Meadow’s original 1960s cabin housed only four bedrooms, lacking the square footage to meet the Institute’s growing demands. The new project enlarges the existing house’s footprint while doubling the property’s capacity to host more students.

A central screened porch joins the new architecture to the existing cabin, also serving as the outdoor gathering and dining space. A long, horizontal screen, made of Norway Spruce harvested and milled on-site, extends from the main cabin along a walkway that leads to the four dwellings.

Much like BCJ’s residential and education projects, the new High Meadow dwellings are characterized by a single, linear core and a sectionally slanted roof. Described as “modest wood portals,” the project provides framed views of the hillside it sits on, further made private by the angled windows and sloped roofing over each living unit. Students can gather inspiration from nature via these subtle, shifting perspectives.

The dwellings stand above ground on a network of nimble steel columns. All materials used on the project are deliberately minimalistic and durable. Each small space contains a desk, closet, full bathroom and two twin beds.

The project was built in collaboration with the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, which owns and operates Fallingwater. High Meadow received the 2016 AIA Pennsylvania Silver Medal, the highest honor given by the Institute’s Pennsylvania chapter. Bohlin Cywinski Jackson has also designed other projects for the Conservancy including the 2006 adaptive reuse of the Barn at Fallingwater, originally constructed in 1870, into a new space for exhibitions, lectures, classes and events.

With the new High Meadow dwellings, Fallingwater Institute will begin its second season of increased operation this spring.

Photos by Nick Lehoux for Bohlin Cywinski Jackson