Possibly Frank Lloyd Wright’s most famous work, and one of the world’s most photographed houses, the Fallingwater residence was a crowning achievement for the master architect. Designed in 1935 and completed three years later, the now iconic building was commissioned as a weekend home and holiday retreat by Edgar and Liliane Kaufmann, owners of the Kaufmann’s Department Store in Pittsburgh. In 1966 it was designated a National Historic Landmark, and similar to Wright’s Martin House in Buffalo, is open to the public through house and grounds tours.
Located in rural Pennsylvania 1.5 hours drive southeast of Pittsburgh, Fallingwater is built partially on top of a waterfall at Bear Run, a tributary of the Youghiogheny River. The building is widely considered to be an architectural masterpiece due to its dynamism and integration with the natural surroundings. Rather than facing the waterfall, as the owners had expected, Wright created a structure seemingly floating above the falls, using a suspended cantilevered design with reinforced concrete and beams – a novel and daring approach at the time.
As with many of his buildings, Wright also designed the interior quarters, furnishings, and fittings to ensure a complete immersive experience of his vision. Typical of much of his work, the influence of Japanese architecture is evident in the seamless integration of inner and exterior spaces. The site contains a large living space and dining area with integrated hearth, and four bedrooms. On a hillside adjacent to the main house, a separate but connected structure contains a guest house, servants quarters, and a four-bay carport which has now been converted to a video presentation centre.
If you are in the Pittsburgh area, the Fallingwater residence is a must-visit destination. Together with the 1,500 acres of surrounding forest and hiking trails, this architectural gem is entrusted to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy ensuring its preservation for the enjoyment of generations to come.