Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater

Hidden away in the Laurel Highlands of western Pennsylvania lies one of Frank Lloyd Wright's greatest engineering masterpieces. Nestled quietly over a waterfall in the Allegheny mountains, Fallingwater is a modern home full of peace and serenity. The water that flows steadily underneath could soothe the most savage beast. The neighboring trees house the beauties of nature, and the whistling sounds of the birds who make them their home.

The house was built for retail owner Edgar Kaufman Sr., a prominent Pittsburgh businessman and owner of Kaufman's department stores. He had commissioned  Frank Lloyd Wright to begin building a home for him in 1935. The home was to be built on a piece of property the Kaufman's had owned in nearby Fayette county. Initially the property was to be built facing the waterfall that flowed over Bear Run, or so that was Kaufman's idea for the home. Always the innovator Wright had other ideas, he decided to design the home over the waterfall, making it part of the home itself. He also incorporated the large boulders that were spread throughout.

The building of the home turned out to be a constant challenge for all involved. Wright and Kaufman had numerous conflicts during the construction. Kaufman at one point had hired engineers to give him a report on the structure of the property. After receiving the reports Wright threatened to leave the project, eventually the reports were buried inside of a stone wall within the home. There were various arguments between the the crews on maintaining the stability and structural support of the home. Eventually the home was completed in Fall of 1937.

The home embraces the nature that surrounds it.  Windows line what should be walls, boulders become pieces of furniture, stairways lead to the stream below.  Open air balconies allow you to breathe in the fresh floral aromas, while feeling the refreshing splashes of the cascading waterfall below. Walls inside the home consist primarily of stone and window panes. Sunlight finds it way through large panes of glass while the stone encompasses the home like a cavern.

Wright designed angled windows that wrap around the corners of the home, and open outward to allow airflow and the sounds of nature to embrace the home.  A majority of the furniture in the home is built permanently into the structure, and was designed by Wright himself. Many consider it to be Wright's greatest achievement. Others believe its a giant money pit. Either way Fallingwater is a place that needs to be seen firsthand. It has been listed on numerous architectural achievement lists, as well as one of the best places to visit in America.

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