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Cottages at Fallingwater, Mill Run, Pa.

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    Marlon Blackwell Architect

    At night, the entryway to each cottage becomes a glowing beacon. Cordwood fills the south-facing wall of each cottage, acting as a thermal mass.

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    The six cottages include large porches to promote socializing among the residents.

    courtesy Marlon Blackwell Architect

    The six cottages include large porches to promote socializing among the residents.

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    Geothermal wells, passive solar design, and photovoltaic panels combine to conserve energy.

    courtesy Marlon Blackwell Architect

    Geothermal wells, passive solar design, and photovoltaic panels combine to conserve energy.

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    Green roofs are planted with local switchgrass.

    courtesy Marlon Blackwell Architect

    Green roofs are planted with local switchgrass.

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    Wood, copper, and glass serve as the project's dominant building materials.

    courtesy Marlon Blackwell Architect

    Wood, copper, and glass serve as the project's dominant building materials.

The judges enjoyed Marlon Blackwell’s bold scheme for six guest cottages on the campus of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater. An entry in an invited competition held by the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, his plan calls for the units to occupy a meadow overlooking views of the Allegheny Mountains. The jury called the project “a very interesting idea.”

Visitors enter each cottage through light monitors at the top of the sloped site, and then experience the view as they move through the building. At night, the monitors glow, evoking the traditional coke ovens once common to the region. The project exhibits environmental sensitivity, incorporating low-impact siting and landscaping with a closed-loop geothermal heating system, photovoltaic panels, and passive solar design. And Blackwell included large porches and fire pits to encourage interaction among the cottages’ guests.

He walked a line between relating the project to Fallingwater without directly echoing Wright. “We wanted to reference Wright’s approach to the land, more than anything else,” Blackwell says. “But we had to allow these things to maintain their own identity.”


Entrant/Architect: Marlon Blackwell Architect, Fayetteville, Ark.; Landscape architect: Ed Blake, The Landscape Studio, Hattiesburg, Miss.; Living space: 900 square feet per cottage; Construction cost: $172 per square foot; Renderings/drawings: Courtesy Marlon Blackwell Architect.