WINTER 2007                               water, land, life.

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Western Pennsylvania Conservancy Paints Fallingwater
to Achieve a New “Old” Look

Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterwork got a fresh coat of paint this summer and, while it appears to be darker than the color many have come to associate with the structure, the paint actually matches the original color Frank Lloyd Wright selected in 1936.

The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, which has been entrusted with Fallingwater, engaged the nationally known color analyst Frank S. Welsh and Ann Arbor, Mich.-based architectural firm Quinn Evans to identify the original Fallingwater colors. Welsh used microscopic and X-ray diffraction analyses to study 20 carefully selected samples from the interior and exterior of the house. He concluded that Wright specified a light yellowish-brown cementitious paint known as “Cemelith” for all of Fallingwater’s masonry surfaces.

With the original color determined, Fallingwater began the challenging search for an effective paint system. Harmony with nature, the feature that has brought Fallingwater much acclaim, has also presented unique challenges: The house’s proximity to, and contact with, running water and moisture from the waterfall place atypical demands on the paint that protects Fallingwater. To ensure a successful repainting, more than 120 paint systems from four manufacturers were tested on the Guest House Canopy for adhesion, durability, anti-microbial proper-ties and water-resistant capabilities. PPG’s Architectural Finishes, Inc. and its Pittsburgh Paints Group© developed the most effective system.

The entire exterior of the house has been repainted, with the exception of the underside of the living room cantilever and bridge, which are scheduled to meet the brush in the spring of 2008.