Building and Site Features

From the beginning of the project it was apparent that the project budget for the Barn at Fallingwater did not allow for heating and cooling of the large upper portion of the old barn, the former hayloft.

Conditioning of the the large upper portion of the old barn space would likely cause the loss of its distinctive character, so it was
preserved for seasonal use with a thorough cleaning, installation of a new thermal and
moisture barrier separation between the first and second floors, as well as lighting.


To attract attention to the barn’s entrance, Mountain Laurel and Red Cedar were combined to create a rustic trellis across the Route 381 elevation.


The barn’s heavy timber frame construction has been retained and is visible in the office suite.


Preservation of the fiftyfoot plus silo was determined to be critical to maintaining the barn’s historic integrity. The badly deteriorated tiles were repaired and preserved.


Another project goal was to relocate a large population of bats from the barn to a new home in the adjacent field.


A challenge of the project was building on a site containing an Exceptional Value Stream, Bear Run as well as National Historic Landmark, Fallingwater. As an EV stream, no harmful discharges can enter Bear Run.


To adequately contain the storm water from the site, landscape architect Marshall Tyler Rausch developed swales and retention ponds to clean and filter water.


In planning the site no irrigation system was installed since all the plant material consists of western Pennsylvania natives that adapt naturally to the environment. These include red oak, white pine, and serviceberry. Seed mixes for the wetland areas and meadow are composed of native grasses.

Power, Sewage and Mechanicals Systems

To heat and cool the building nine geothermal wells were drilled in the parking lot above the building. Tapping the earth’s constant temperatures is an efficient alternative energy source to fossil fuels.


All wastewater on the Fallingwater campus is piped to a newly completed on site sewage treatment plant. The zero discharge Zenon system cleans the wastewater and recycles it for flushwater and drip irrigation at several locations on site, while biosolids are removed periodically.


While not directly powered by wind, Western Pennsylvania Conservancy has purchased
a two year renewable certificate product. For every unit of renewable electricity generated,
an equivalent amount of renewable certificates is produced. The purchase of renewable
certificates supports renewable electricity generation, which can help offset conventional
electricity generation in the region where the renewable generator is located.


Project Features

The multipurpose room also features a retractable wall system by Skyfold, which allows the space to be divided into smaller spaces.


A wooden ramp connects the two main portions of the barn together. The “clanking” sound of the wood planks underfoot is reminiscent of the original wood floors of the upper barn.


The ramp, adjacent stairway, and door pulls feature metalwork by Weaver Custom Ironwork fashioned to imitate irregular wood branches.


The barn also features decorative copper rain chains.


The office suite light fixtures are designed to be motion sensitive. The fixtures also adjust to the amount of natural light in the room.


Suntube lights were used to provide natural lighting in the otherwise windowless public
bathrooms. The lights are not as costly as conventional skylights, and they require less space. They are commonly used in residential applications.


A wood screen with hydraulic jacks extends over the windows of the private offices to control light and blend with the barn’s rustic exterior.


To reduce ultraviolet light in the multipurpose room during presentations, textured fabric
Imago Panels were installed over the glass block windows and secured on a steel track.