Imagine if your home won the trifecta of architectural awards: selected for the cover of Time magazine; named “best all-time work of American architecture” by the American Institute of Architects; and listed in Smithsonian magazine’s “28 Places to Visit Before You Die.”
Then you can understand how Pittsburgh department store owner Edgar Kaufmann felt about Fallingwater, his Frank Lloyd Wright designed Allegheny Mountain retreat.
Considered by many to be Wright’s finest house design, when Fallingwater was completed in 1938 it broke all the traditional molds. The owner requested a home with a view of the falls and got a house built directly over the falls. And instead of sitting on the creekside bluff, it appears to grow out of the bedrock.
Scores of books have been written about Frank Lloyd Wright and his architecture, and we won’t re-plow that ground. Suffice it to say that he was tired of the classical architectural influences that we inherited from Europe, and wanted designs that reflected American values, lifestyles, and landscapes.
Like all of FLW’s buildings, Fallingwater was designed as a cohesive whole. His design package included custom doors, windows, and light fixtures; bespoke built-in furniture; and natural landscaping that married the house surroundings to the interior of the structure.
What appeals to me most about Wright’s buildings are his open plans and the connections to the outdoors. The large expanses of glass, broad terraces, and ease of access to the outside create a natural link to the surroundings, which in the case of Fallingwater, is incredibly private and soothing.
And to truly appreciate how innovative his houses were, just remember that Fallingwater was completed 1938. That’s before my time, but lots of my family lived in Pre-WWII houses that were nothing like this.
As a groundbreaking icon in the world of architecture, Wright had strong opinions about his craft. He also had a reputation for being demanding and sometimes overbearing with others in his building projects. And there are stories of his disagreements with clients as well. But this is all part of the package when engaging with visionaries, and Wright certainly fit this mold.
Guided tours of the interior are by reservation only and very popular, so it takes a bit of advance planning to visit. But if you have an interest in seeing some of the best work of one of America’s most well-known and influential architects make the trip to Bear Run Creek in southwestern Pennsylvania.
Happy Trails and Good Health,
James & Terri
Photo Credits: 24. Pittsburgh Magazine