The Genius of Fallingwater

Fiona Rose

As a child, I remember flicking though a photo book about architecture and coming across a building I thought was straight from the set of a science fiction film... that house was Fallingwater and it's majesty and uniqueness have stayed with me ever since.

Fallingwater is located at Bear Run in the mountains 50 miles south east of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. When wealthy businessman Edgar Kaufmann took Frank Lloyd Wright to see the wooded plot of land on which he wanted the architect to design him a summer house, he thought Wright would design a home with a wonderful view of the waterfall that was a feature of the property. When the family saw the plans for the house they were most surprised - the house sat right on top of the falls and it was actually difficult to see the waterfall unless you looked down from the cantilevered terraces but you could certainly hear the water below!

Fortunately for us, in 1963 the house was donated by the Kaufmann family to The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy who open the property to the public. In 2002 Fallingwater was restored by the trust at a cost of $11.4 million preserving it for many generations to come

One of my favourite stories about FLW involves Fallingwater... About 6 months after visiting the site with FLW, Edgar Kaufmann had heard nothing from the architect. When in Chicago for a business trip, Kaufmann called Wright and asked if he could drive the 3 hours to Taliesin (the architect's home and school of architecture in Spring Green, Wisconsin) to see how the plans were progressing. "Certainly Mr Kaufmann" was the cool reply from the architect on the other end of the line. One of Wright's students then described how the architect calmly walked over to his drafting table and drew out the full set of plans for Fallingwater. Upon his arrival 3 hours later, Edgar Kaufmann was shown in to see Wright who greeted him with the words, "Mr Kaufmann, what took you so long?". That is the genius of Frank Lloyd Wright and Fallingwater.

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