High Meadow Studio at Fallingwater
Mill Run, PA, USA
Located on historic farmland on a hillside above Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater residence, High Meadow Studio at Fallingwater serves as the educational hub for students of the Fallingwater Institute’s summer residency programs in architecture, art, and design. The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, entrusted to preserve and conserve Fallingwater, continues its mission to foster an appreciation of the natural world through educational programs such as those hosted at High Meadow. Faithful to this function and mission, High Meadow Studio complements its rural setting with modest form, efficient materials, and honest details.
An existing garage along the edge of the woods had been previously utilized as a design studio for the summer programs. The small size limited the program’s capacity while the lack of natural daylight, views, and ventilation left the students disconnected from the adjacent meadow. The design team was asked to create a new seasonal studio that would double the existing space, adding a fabrication shop, review space, storage, support services, a covered outdoor work area, and most importantly, a strong connection to the natural surroundings.
Instead of demolishing the aging garage structure, the design team leveraged the resources of the existing building, re-skinning it and re-purposing it as the fabrication shop. The opaque, double garage doors were replaced with dual translucent panels that fill the space with diffused light, and, when opened, direct views across the meadow beyond.
The studio pavilion extends into the woods behind the existing structure, positioned strategically between the mature trees, leaving the forest edge intact. The studio extension is defined by a translucent north wall that is paired with a full length pin-up wall to the south. In counterpoint to the twin meadow doors, the studio is punctuated with a single transparent portal out to the work-porch and fern-blanketed woods.
Two red stained plywood cores house all of the support and storage spaces and frame the link between the shop and studio. The shift and offset between these twin elements creates the paired entries and threshold between the forest path from the neighboring High Meadow residence and the field stone wall and path that leads across the meadow to the Fallingwater house.
Roof vents draw cool air from the forest floor across the studio through operable panels below the full-length pin-up wall. Custom screen panels at the forest-side studio door and both meadow-side shop doors keep the insects at bay while allowing the evening breezes to flow through the structure.
The simple gabled roofline of the existing structure extends over the new studio, breezeways, and outdoor work-porch. The natural plywood ceiling and modest wood trusses are activated by a translucent ridge lite that cuts the length of the work-porch and studio.