Samuel Friedlander

Fallingwater Visitors Center

Fallingwater is the cornerstone of American Modernism and Frank Lloyd Wright’s crown achievement. The number of visitors traveling to Bear Run to experience this masterpiece has been increasing at staggering rates. This project seeks to create a visitor center which is informed by the site’s natural splendor and accommodating of its rise in patron volume.

The new visitors center immerses visitors into nature and the intrinsic beauty of Bear Creek. To do this the center is split into two buildings: the consumer building and the education building. Visitor first arrive at the consumer building is located at the top of the hill. This building houses all program faculties and services involving monetary spending including a cafe, store, ticket counter, and daycare. Before going on the tour, visitors make their way to the education building. It is located to the southwest on the hillside and terraces down to the original road the Kaufmann family took to get to Fallingwater. This building includes educational galleries, summer program classrooms, and staff offices. These two structures are strategically placed oppositely across the site, each in isolation from the other as well as Fallingwater. This encourages visitors to spread out, embrace the woods, and get “lost” traveling to each building.

By starting the tour on the original road, Visitors for the first time are arriving to the house the proper way. This original approach is made by way of a tunnel of earthy tree trunks, evergreen branches, moss-covered rocks, and sprawling rhododendrons. Fallingwater is truly meant to be a modern cabin in the woods, and reconnecting visitors to the original road will help renew that feeling. 

The structure of the visitor center buildings were developed to seamlessly integrate with the natural tree density of the site. The modular pentagon roof pattern lines up with a Usonia inspired floor slab below and creates a seemingly sporadic column placement . 

This project was a studio project at Carnegie Mellon University School of Architecture with Dan Sztanga.