FALLINGWATER- FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT “The best all-time work of American Architecture”

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Frank Lloyd Wright America’s most famous architect. I got introduced to a lot of great artists and architects while taking Interior Design and Architecture classes. Out of all of the remarkable designers, he’s one of my favorite.  F.L.Wright is well known as one of the first organic architects who created marvelous designs. Someone one’s said ” Organic Architecture strives to integrate space into a unified whole. Frank Lloyd Wright was not concerned with architecture style, because he believed that every building should grow naturally from its environment”.

Originally F.L.Wright was from Wisconsin. After his parents divorced in 1885, to help his family financially, 18 years old Frank worked for engineering department in University Of Wisconsin, while attending the University as well. In 1887, he decided to leave Madison for Chicago to pursuit his long lasting dream of becoming an architect. Start of Wright’s career was working as draftsman for Architectural firm of Joseph Lyman Silsbee. After a year he decided to join another firm of Adler And Sullivan. He was assigned as a draftsman on the largest project of the firm at the time, the massive Auditorium Building. Few years later he became a principle draftsman at Adler and Sullivan. However, due to taking independent commissions, he got fired from the firm. Working for Sullivan was the most influential period of time in his training. Wright was inspired of Sullivan’s relationship between architecture and nature, which helped him to continue lasting until his death, as well as getting a title of one longest and most distinguished Architects in America.

Throughout his life, Wright designed over 1000 structures and completed over 500 of them in which, many are located in our own city of Chicago. However, the one I chose to talk about is a house built in Pennsylvania, called Fallingwater. The house was built between 1936-1939, for the Kaufmann Family, who owned Kaufmann’s department store, now part of Macy’s. The Kaufmanns lived in Pittsburgh, PA, sometimes called ” Smoky City” due to huge amount of air pollution. Therefore, they liked to vacation in the mountains, where they owned property with vacation cabins, so when they decided to build a new, more modern vacation house, they turned to F.L.Wright.

Wright believed in organic architecture, and was well known for modern art and design. Kaufmanns were intrigued by that, deciding to work with Frank, and that is how “Best all-time work of American architecture” started. Kaufmanns expectation of placement of the house were slightly different then Frank’s. In their mind house should be located facing the beautiful view of the waterfall, but Wright’s plan was to build the house on top of it instead. At first, Kaufmann did not like the idea and it made him really upset, but after Wright’s reaction of either this or nothing, he agreed to continue the project.

The area where the base of the Fallingwater supposed to be placed, was not supported enough to hold on to entire structure, so Wright used new kind of architecture called The cantilever- reinforced concrete trays, which were horizontal floor units extended from the rock ledges exposed at the waterfalls. The other very important part of the structure was the vertical core, which includes the hearth and chimney, and is the highest element of the house. The Fallingwater includes two parts: The Main house built between 1936-1938, and the Guest room completed in 1939. The house was a creation of harmony between human and nature. Exterior and Interior spaced were influenced by organic and Japanese design and architecture. First floor contains, an open living room and kitchen. Second floor accommodates small bedrooms and third floor the study and Kaufmann’s son bedroom. The original house was fully furnished by Wright and relates to its natural surroundings. To show the unity of architecture and nature Wright designed very special place inside the house, a fireplace where the family gathers. Fireplace is located in the heart of the house and it has a stone which cuts through it and is bringing the waterfall inside the house. Narrow passages play major role in the house as well, they cut through and lead outside where you can admire an amazing view. Even, the living room carries steps which take you right outside the water, and terraces which function is to raise the plan and open house to outside.

There is no question that Fallingwater is a creation of a genius, whose extraordinary work brought harmony in between man, architecture and nature.  Nowadays, the house is known as Pennsylvania state historical marker, after Kaufmann’s donated the property to Western Pennsylvania conservancy. In 1964 Fallingwater was opened to the public as a museum, and since then was visited by over 5 million people. “Time” magazine stated that Fallingwater was the “most beautiful job” of Wright’s, as well as was listed on Smitsonian’s Life List of 28 places “to visit before you die”.

Why there is no more buildings looking like Fallingwater?

Due to intensive program to preserve and restore Fallingwater, do you think its original construction will eventually change?

How Wright’s designs affect modern architecture?

 Anna Welch

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8 thoughts on “FALLINGWATER- FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT “The best all-time work of American Architecture”

  1. For one, I love this house and his work. The reason I think no other house looks like falling water is because there is no other like Frank Loyd Wright. No one else can find and use a location like he could and incorporate it to the house.
    When it comes to the original construction, i think it may have to change at one point to keep the house standing. Or at least changed or supported to keep it standing.

  2. I’ve seen a couple of Wright’s local homes but have never seen this house. It is spectacular and I agree with Time magazine saying it should be on my “bucket list”. I think a lack of money is mostly responsible for the cookie cutter homes that are predominantly built today. I think a person would have to be crazy not to want a home like this one but could never afford it. Preservationists work very hard to keep structures looking as they did when built so I like to believe the integrity of Wright’s work will remain in tact. To live in such harmony with nature and enjoy the beautiful surroundings would be a dream.

  3. I also find his work remarkable, it is something amazing to look at as well. If I had the money I would like him to design my house! What I like about artists and in this case Frank Lyod’s artistic architecture is that not only is he good at what he does, he is also very creative. Creativity is a must, especially when the artist does something so unique on its own, something never seen before or something you don’t see often, thats what makes them at the top, and I agree he is an amazing architect.

  4. Anna, I wanted to say that it was a very nice blog post that you did over here, I really enjoyed reading it and I was captivated by the information you are giving us in regards to Fallingwater. To answer the first question on why there is no more buildings like this anymore, I would think that the reason could be because they are very difficult to design. Looking for an engineer stand point, it will be easier for me to design a modern house using the regular material that we normally use to build a house, instead of making a more complex and complicated designed that will work with the materials found in that environment, that will just be a lot of work and maybe I will not get paid well enough to do it. To answer your second question about the preservation of such place, I would say that the original construction of Fallingwater has changed throughout the years and it will keep changing. Since this property was built in conjunction with the environment, and because the environment and its natural resources keeps changing, the house will also be affected and it will change along with the environment. This house will need to be fixed or altered in order to preserve its original construction. In my opinion, I think the designs of Wright are inspirations for many other architects. It will be nice to see more building like this one. Here is a link that I found with more information about the work of Frank Lloyd Wright. Nice job!


  5. Can I just say when you stated the house was built in the 30’s, I was like no way! This house has such a modern look to it, it’s insane! Like I definitely can see something like this being built in the future, the building looks so ahead of it’s time. Anyways lol, I think the reason why houses like this aren’t being built is like some of my classmates have mentioned, the lack of creativity. But not only that, we live in a busy busy lifestyle (time is money) that we prefer to do things simple yet efficient (that it serves its purpose). To have creativity or build something like this you have to have money. Personally to own something creative or make some creatively (meaning having the resources) is almost like a luxury in this day in age. With restoring it, I don’t think they would use different kinds of material. This is a master piece in itself, it would be like adding something on that is completely different.

  6. I love Frank Lloyd Wright’s work, and Fallingwater is my favorite. His style is so simple yet grand at the same time. I grew up in Oak Park, so I frequently saw his buildings’ stark contrast from the relatively bland suburbia around it, not that the area doesn’t have some beautiful homes. I agree with Bea, his work is very modern looking. It makes me wonder what people who valued classic architecture thought of his works at the time. He’s probably the most well known, and likely the most influential architect in modern history.

  7. I love franks houses as wel . The one that you speak of is just simply beautiful. I love how unique it is compared to houses you see today. I can only hope to live in a house as unique as this one when I am able to buy a house. I think there may be one of his houses in or around the Glen Ellyn area. I could be wrong but there’s a house that catches my eye that reminds me of his work.

  8. Frank Lloyd Wright is a very talented man and it is really interesting that is work is right in our backyards. I have never got a chance to see his art in person but I would definitely love to! I noticed with his work it has a great number of square dimensions with its shape. I wonder if he has any Architect that feature different types of shapes other than squares? I am also curious with the prices that his architect is set at? I bet it is definitely in the seven digit area. Where exactly is his architect located at in Oak Park?

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