Fallingwater, one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s most widely acclaimed works, was designed in 1936 as a family mountain retreat for the Pittsburg department store owner, Edgar J. Kaufmann. Perched on a rock above a gushing waterfall (located on Pennsylvania Route 391 between the villages of Mill Run and Ohiopyle, approximately 1.5 hours from downtown Pittsburg), this historic house recapitulates Frank Lloyd Wright’s themes integrating his own love of nature and of structural daring, pulling it all together into a brilliantly resolved totality.
I had imagined driving up to the location and immediately seeing this magnificent home, but to my surprise (and delight) there was a ¼ mile gradual downhill walk outdoors from the Visitors Center to Fallingwater with a marvelous first view.
As I walked down the path, it was easy to feel ‘butterflies’ in my stomach, hearing the sound of the waterfall pounding below, and then…the sight of this most beautiful home took my breath away!
The key to the setting of the house is the waterfall over which it is built. The falls had been a focal point of the Kaufmann’s activities, and the family had indicated the area around the falls as the location for a home. They were unprepared for Wright’s suggestion that the house rise over the waterfall, rather than face it. But the architect’s original scheme was adopted almost without change. Wright wanted the homeowners to “live with the waterfall”; the sound of the falls engulfs the entire house with tranquility.
Completed with a guest and service wing in 1939, Fallingwater was constructed of sandstone quarried on the property and was built by local craftsmen. The stone serves to separate reinforced concrete “trays”, forming living and bedroom levels, dramatically cantilevered over the stream. These cantilevered concrete terraces hover some 30 feet above the falls.Visitor Information