Fallingwater - an architectural masterpiece designed by Frank Lloyd Wright

Fallingwater, outside Pittsburgh, PA, designed by American architect, Frank Lloyd Wright.
Fallingwater, outside Pittsburgh, PA, designed by American architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. | Source
American architect, Frank Lloyd Wright.
American architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. | Source
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Fallingwater

Many years ago, while in college, an art major friend and I made a trip from Akron, Oh to just outside Pittsburgh, PA to view the architectural masterpiece, Fallingwater. My grandfather, also an architect and stone mason, had talked about this house and architect, Frank Lloyd Wright all the years I was growing up, but it was not until college that I realized the importance of this house to the architectural world. The beauty and simplicity of the lines of this house captured my imagination. And the natural beautiful surroundings left me feeling tranquil and serene.

Fallingwater is a weekend home that was designed by American architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, probably, America's most original, creative, innovative and gifted architect. Throughout his life, Wright was an architect, interior designer, writer and educator all rolled up in one. He believed in an architectural philosophy he called organic architecture, and designed structures in harmony with humanity and its environment.

Fallingwater or the Kaufmann residence was designed by Wright in 1935. It is nestled in rural southwestern Pennsylvania approximately fifty miles southeast of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The home was built partly over a waterfall in Bear Run in the Laurel Highlands of the Allegheny Mountains. It is a beautiful, elegant home encompassing all of Frank Lloyd Wright's beliefs and philosophies of communing nature and man to live in harmony together. Frank Lloyd Wright was "green" eons before the term became popular in our lexicon. This house is why Frank Lloyd Wright has been labeled an architectural genius. And it is this house that defined his whole career and his passion for integrating the home, and therefore man, within nature.

The home was originally designed for Edgar Kaufmann, Sr, businesssman and president of Kaufmann's Department Stores in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It was built to be the weekend home and retreat for the Kaufmanns and was so from l937-l963. Kaufmann's son, Edgar Kaufmann, Jr. was an architect working for Frank Lloyd Wright at the time and so the Kaufmanns commissioned Wright to design their weekend home for them.

Fallingwater became Wright's greatest masterpiece for its integration of the house into the natural surroundings of the wooded, forested area and the stream and waterfall under the house. This structure was his ultimate vision of harmony between man and nature. Wright believed the treatment of space was the most important aspect of architecure that he had learned from the Japanese and Wright's passion for Japanese architecture is strongly reflected in Fallingwater's design. His organic design of this house was Wright's architectural trademark and this house was intended to be a nature retreat for the Kaufmanns.

What is so interesting and the focal point of the house is that it is built on top of an active waterfall which flows beneath the house and is integrated with nature all around the house. The house was built to have a definite connection to the outside site. Ledge rock protrudes up to a foot through the living room, and was left in place to link the outside of the house with the inside. The fireplace hearth integrates boulders found on the site and on which the house is built. Waxed stone floors are foils to the rough texture of the stone walls of the rooms.

Decks run around the entire outside of the house and the low ceilings in the rooms inside the house beckon the people inside to move outdoors to enjoy the beauty of the natural surroundings. It is also said that Frank Lloyd Wright was a small man and designed his homes with his short height in mind. Wright also built servant's quarters and a guest house attached to the outside of the building. The horizonal and vertical lines of the house flow naturally along with nature and give off a peacefulness and serenity not found in the city, This is the ultimate nature retreat.

Wright also designed the interior rooms of the house. The living room is large and many of the window seats and chairs are naturally designed to keep with the natural harmony of nature outside and inside. The bedrooms are quite small to encourage the residents to gather in the house, which has windows all around, and to enjoy the natural elements and the outside beauty. This was Wright's ultimate architectural vision.

Edgar Kaufmann, Jr. donated the property to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy and in l964 the house became a museum. It averages about 150,000 visitors each year.

Don't miss this architectural beauty if you are in the Pittsburgh area. It is a treat. Plan to spend one whole day at the house, touring the inside, which is innovative even by today's standards. Also, tour the outside natural surroundings and view and photograph the natural waterfall. It is amazing how the house is built right into the rock in the surroundings and the house seems to "bloom open as a flower" in its natural surroundings.

Fallingwater is not to be missed.

Other places to view Frank Lloyd Wright architecture, homes and buildings is in Chicago, Illinois, Oak Park, Illinois, Spring Green, Wisconsin, and Arizona. These are the places Wright resided during his life and he left his architectural stamp wherever he lived. The Guggenheim Museum on 5th Avenue in NY city is also a Frank Lloyd Wright designed building not to be missed.


Interior of Fallingwater, designed by architect, Frank Lloyd Wright.
Interior of Fallingwater, designed by architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. | Source

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Comments 33 comments

kat11 profile image

kat11 4 years ago from Illinois

There is also a Frank Lloyd Wright Chapel architecture in Belvidere, Illinois


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 4 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Thank you for reading and commenting. I did not know about the Chapel in Illinois. I'd love to view it someday!


ytsenoh profile image

ytsenoh 4 years ago from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri

This was nicely put together. So clean with the images and well-written. Frank Lloyd Wright is very interesting. Thank you.


Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 4 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

Suzette, I had not thought about this beautiful place in years. Thank you for stimulating that memory and for the information about Fallingwater. It is so beautiful. The man was an artist with talents I only dream about.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 4 years ago from Taos, NM Author

ytsenoh: Thank you for stopping by and reading this. The photos are not mine, but I agree, they are beautiful. I am glad you enjoyed this. Frank Lloyd Wright has always been a favorite of mine, architecturally. I have seen some of his other houses, the Praire houses, and they are just as interesting. But, Fallingwater is my favorite and really the masterpiece of his lifetime.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 4 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Hyphen: I, too, had forgotten about this house. What jogged my memory was the book I recently read about him, "Loving, Frank". I forget the author's name. It is about Wright's life about 10 years or so into his marriage, when he took a lover, Mamah Borthwick Cheney. They both left their respective spouses and ran off to Europe together and lived together the rest of their lives. I hadn't known that Wright was such a nonconformist. Their love affair came to a tragic end in Spring Green, Wisconsin, when Mamah and her visiting children and some workers were massacred (ax murders) and the compound where they lived was burned one summer day by a mad servant. This book flabbergasted me that Frank and Mamah were such proponents of free love, open marriage and feminism back in the early 1900's.

Anyway, the book got me thinking about his architecture and my visit to Fallingwater. This house was the apex of his career and built long after the tragic end of their love affair. Who knew?


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

I have loved Wright's work ever since I was introduced to it 30 years ago. Great Hub and what a gorgeous photograph of Falling Water. I love talking about him and his work and how influential it was in America. Definitely SHARING.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 4 years ago from Taos, NM Author

phdast7: Thank you so much for reading and commenting. I have such a soft spot for nonconformists. His architecture really fascinates me and he left quite a mark. His architectual vision was just so unique.


BlissfulWriter profile image

BlissfulWriter 4 years ago

Frank Lloyd Wright did many architectural pieces and he seem to have an uncanny ability to merge living structures within nature.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 4 years ago from Taos, NM Author

BlissfulWriter: I know, Wright was just amazing wasn't he? I find his architecture so unique and thoughtful about nature. He wasn't the steel and glass skyscraper architect, but an architect concerned about how his buildings could fit into nature, rather than obliterating nature to build the building. People who think like Wright are so rare - once in a lifetime person. He was "green" long before the term even was invented.


robie2 profile image

robie2 4 years ago from Central New Jersey

I have always thought that Falling Water was Wright's masterpiece-- the way it seems to be part of the waterfall is just amazing. I love Western PA and the mountains there anyway -- this hub is just wonderful and you've included great photos and perfect background information as well as personal impressions. I love this hub so much that I am jealous that I didn't write it myself-- Kudos and I'm bookmarking, sharing and voting up across the board because it is an absoute masterpiece:-)


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 4 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Why thank you so much for your comments and for taking the time to read this. Don't be jealous, I'm sure you have some great hubs also. We have several architects in the family and I sort of have an eye for looking at it. I like anything unique, unusual, and I connect with nature, so this was right up my alley.

The inside rooms however, are a little claustrophobic because the ceilings are so low. I prefer higher ceilings, but I understand his reasons for low ceilings.

Thanks so much and I will be reading some of your hubs!


Duchess OBlunt 4 years ago

wonderful hub. I always envy those who have an idea and are able to create it.

I have always loved the sound of a waterfall. Imagine living over one!


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 4 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Duchess: Thank you for stopping by and reading and commenting. I also admire creative, unusual people. This entire house and grounds are so calm and serene. It must have been wonderful to have this as a weekend retreat.


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK

Very interesting hub and certainly somewhere I would love to visit if I ever get back to the USA. I love these sorts of buildings which integrate themselves into the landscape so easily. And I love the natural sound of flowing or falling water. this place is so beautiful.

Voted up and shared.


mollymeadows profile image

mollymeadows 4 years ago from The Shire

I love Fallingwater and this style of architecture. This makes you dream of having this kind of house...if only...:-) Thanks for the peep into this lovely home.


KDuBarry03 4 years ago

Man and nature are so far separated now it's a joke. I am happy to read hubs, like these, where a man longs to be with nature and completes it with beauty and intelligence. Very well done! This hub is definitely an eye opener and a great read.

-KD


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 4 years ago from Taos, NM Author

KDuBarry03: Yes, you are so right. Wright is probably turning over in his grave as he worked so hard to integrate nature and architecture. I don't know how we got so far away from his vision, and I love his buildings. I wish we could all live in harmony with nature - life would be so much less stressful. Se la vie! Thanks so much for stopping by and reading. I enjoyed your comments!


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 4 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Jools99: Thanks so much for your lovely comments. Where are you living now? Do see this house sometime; it is a real treat! Thanks for the vote and share. I appreciate you stopping by to read and comment and I'm glad you enjoyed this.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 4 years ago from Taos, NM Author

mollymeadows: Wouldn't you just love to live here - I know I would. His houses are so unique - every single one of them. I just love his architectural vision. Thanks so much for stopping by to read and comment. I appreciate your comments.


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK

Suzette, I am in the UK but have visited the States a few times. I have never visited Pennsylvania, only Boston on the East Coast and would happily visit this house if I ever return, the surroundings look so serene. This may well be a clever conceit, but who wouldn't love to live there? So beautiful.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 4 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Jools99, Ah, you live in the UK. I have visited their and I love the UK. Fallingwater is located near Pittsburgh, PA in western Pennsylvania. I could easily be nestled in this house in the woods with a brook and waterfall. I can't think of anything more lovely or peaceful. I hope you get here someday!


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

What a pleasure to see this again. Wright is still a genius; Falling rock is still amazing; you are still an excellent hub author. Have a great week. :)


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 4 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Thank you so much and you are not so bad yourself! lol. I enjoy your hubs very much - they are always on such interesting and many times controversial subjects. I love what you do with them. Enjoy your week!


TToombs08 profile image

TToombs08 4 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

Suzettenaples, what a STUNNING home! I love the way Wright managed to marry nature and architecture into a copacetic environment. Great job on presenting an excellent example of his work. Voted up and sharing.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 4 years ago from Taos, NM Author

TT: This house is amazing. If you are ever in the Pittsburgh area, stop to see this. Wright's architecture is so unique and he always incorporated nature into his designs. He felt nature should not be changed because we had to build buildings. I wish his architecture had taken hold more than it did. It is so much better for the environment. Thanks so much for visitng and sharing. Much appreciated!


Rolly A Chabot profile image

Rolly A Chabot 4 years ago from Alberta Canada

Hi suzettenaples... what an interesting hub of a man vision in design. His ability to tuck something so peaceful and serene away and incorporate nature is amazing. Very much enjoyed...

Hugs from Canada


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 4 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Isn't this house amazing? I'm glad you enjoyed this and I hope you get to see the house someday. Thanks for the visit - most appreciated!


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 4 years ago from Virginia

This looks like an interesting place to visit. I am aware of some of Frank Lloyd Wright's work..but this is one that I have not heard of before...so thanks for opening my eyes to this landmark....that has now made my bucket list....voted up and awesome.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 4 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Cogerson: Thanks so much for reading this and commenting. I'm glad you enjoyed it. Yes, if you are ever in the Pittsburgh, PA area, be sure to see this house. It is amazing and incredible and one of the most interesting houses I've been in. I love how he integrated it with nature. I wish we did this more today. Your interest is most appreciated!


Tom Schumacher profile image

Tom Schumacher 3 years ago from Huntington Beach, CA

Although I'm not convinced FLW's Fallingwater is his greatest masterpiece I do, however, thinks it is pretty amazing. I wonder what it must be like to wake up in the morning to the sound of flowing water all around you? Voted up.


Chantelle Porter profile image

Chantelle Porter 18 months ago from Chicago

Great article. If you have a chance you should read "Loving Frank", which chronicles his life and some less flattering apsects of it. Interesting guy; wonderful architect.

I'm glad you've rewired.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 18 months ago from Taos, NM Author

Chantelle: Yes, I have read Loving Frank - what an illuminating book about his life. He certainly did not lead a boring life! LOL! I love his architecture and I have seen some of his other buildings and architecture. Thanks so much for stopping to read this.

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