Design students attend residency

Marlene Brueggmann

What Yankee Stadium is to baseball fans, the Fallingwater house is to architecture and design students – a mecca.

This summer, three Western students got the chance to get up close and personal with the house that was voted the best all-time work of American architecture in 1991 by the American Institute of Architects.

Elizabethtown senior Todd Lehmenkuler, Bowling Green senior Eric Hathaway and Tompkinsville senior Michael Sheffield received three of nine available spaces for July’s College Architecture Residency at Fallingwater in Bear Run, Penn.

Fallingwater was designed in 1935 by Frank Lloyd Wright, one of the best-known American architects.

The house was built over a mountain stream and includes almost all its original furnishings and artwork.

It is the only intact house designed by Wright that is open to the public.

Neal Downing, Architect and Manufacturing Sciences professor, said 99 percent of the people who see the house do so on a restricted tour.

But the residency program granted its attendants unlimited access to Fallingwater.

“We even got to sit on the furniture,” Hathaway said. “It is priceless.”

“We got to see it like it was lived in,” Lehmenkuler said.

Lehmenkuhler, Hathaway and Sheffield left for the two-week session July 23.

As part of the program, they had to complete four main projects, such as models and drawing exercises, that were critiqued by the rest of the group and visiting professors.

Lehmenkuler said he enjoyed meeting students from other universities with different perspectives and ideas on architecture.

The objectives of the architecture residency focused on sustainable architecture, recycling and the conservancy of nature.

To be considered for the program, applicants had to submit a letter of recommendation, five pieces of their work and an essay.

Sheffield said attending the program was a great experience.

“As a senior, I’m so accustomed to what professors here want from me,” he said. “But there it was a completely different format. You’re almost like a freshman starting over.”

Downing said the trio’s participation in the program got them exposure and was a good resume-builder. It also increased the enthusiasm level in both students and faculty for future projects.

“They made it happen,” Downing said, “and we’re damn proud of them.”

Reach Marlene Brueggeman at [email protected]