Hawks Nest is Perched on a Cliff That Overlooks the Potomac River

Hawks Nest

Hawks Nest is a home and studio for a sculptor from Paris who was drawn to the site, an abandoned limestone quarry, with its sweeping views of the Potomac River. Located in Falling Waters, West Virginia, this amazing retreat was conceived and designed by Greg Wiedemann, AIA, and Barbara Sweeney, AIA, of Wiedemann Architects. Hawks Nest sits at the edge of the limestone quarry used in the late 19th century. Abandoned 60 years ago, unused quarried boulders have since been enveloped by nature. These boulders became an important part of the design of the home.

Project description: Our goal was to create a simple form that was simultaneously separate from and intertwined with nature. Two simple cast concrete volumes rise seamlessly from the limestone creating a framed view of the landscape beyond and a perch for the steel and glass structure above. The grid of steel columns modulates the space and creates framed views of the ever changing play of nature, blurring the line between inside and outside. Ipe, allowed to weather naturally, provides a material counterpoint to the steel and was used on rainscreen walls, on balconies that extend the interior space, and on bridges that leave the site otherwise untouched.

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The residence is designed to enhance the experience of the nature and inspire the client’s work in her ceramic and metal studios. Dark concrete floors with radiant heat provide warmth, while the narrow plan affords natural cross ventilation. The atelier is of the place and, at the same time, provides an armature for a greater appreciation of the natural beauty of the landscape.

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The raw site presented a major challenge, as the uneven surface was littered with superfluous rocks and boulders discarded from when the quarry was active. In addition, the foundation design had to contend with sub surface caves, active springs, and “fractures.” The site was disturbed as little as possible, by supporting the concrete volumes on pilings of varying depths; the concrete walls that span between pilings sit directly on bedrock. Boulders that were scattered about the site were left in place and the native vegetation is allowed to grow and return the surrounding landscape to its natural setting.

Architects: Greg Wiedemann, AIA, and Barbara Sweeney, AIA, / Wiedemann Architects
Project: Hawks Nest
Location: Falling Waters, West Virginia, US
Photography: ©Anice Hoachlander/ Hoachlander Davis Photography

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