In order not to destroy the character of the main barn's upper loft space (opposite), with its heavy timber, mortise, and tenon frame, the space was left raw, with natural light admitted through gaps in the vertical siding. Fireproof straw bale panels (left) line the stair, and local fieldstone was used to create a large fireplace wall in the 1940s addition (bottom).

addition, formerly a dairy barn, now contains meeting rooms that can double as an exhibition hall.

Ecofriendly elements throughout the Barn at Fallingwater earned it an AIA/COTE Green Project Award, and it is expected to receive LEED Silver certification. For example, wall paneling consists of 2-inch-thick straw bales, while maple flooring in the big barn was salvaged from a demolition job. Other features include geothermal wells and a zero-discharge wastewater-treatment plant.


Once considered a problem, the unprogrammed large space is now the project's selling point. The room's four oversize doors are opened during warm months, effectively dissolving its eastern wall. Even on rainy days, light filters through gaps between the boards, bouncing off the glossy floor and suffusing this space with a transcendental glow.

An eclectic material palette in the meeting rooms also preserves the feel of a barn. The contractor reused cedar planks, moving them from the ceiling to the walls, and uncovered glazed terra-cotta wainscoting, a remnant of the space's past life as a milking facility.

Due to a prosaic choice of materials, the administrative offices are the only insertion that feel alien to the barn aesthetic. Happily, the architects softened the exterior impact of new windows by adding a screen of wood louvers. But they overreached when designing a trellis for the front walkway. Made of mountain laurel branches, it will eventually be covered by vines. For now, though, the trellis takes the green concept a step too far and feels forced. ■

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