Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater: Everything you need to know about the masterpiece
The house’s material palette is simple and largely unadorned, except for two paint colors: ocher on the concrete elements and Cherokee red—the architect’s signature earth color—on the steel windows and doors.
Frank Lloyd Wright was known for his holistic residential design, including built-in furnishings, lighting fixtures, and millwork, as well as sourcing and arranging furniture for his clients. He implemented visionary projects not only in aesthetic and functional terms, but for family life as defined by architecture itself. The waters of the waterfall were no exception. The architect designed approximately 170 custom wooden furniture pieces for the house in a style that blends harmoniously with the architecture.
The interior design focuses on Wright’s signature concept of compression and openness, where small spaces lead to large open spaces. On the first floor of the Fallingwater House, visitors move through the intimately sized entryway into the continuous dining and living room. As always, nature is close by. A hole in the floor opens to reveal an outdoor suspended staircase that leads down to the Bear Run stream.
The structural success of Fallingwater’s cantilever columns is based on its use of steel-reinforced concrete. During construction, Wright insisted that his design would work, but the builders on site were less convinced and added more structural steel to the concrete slabs without the architect’s knowledge.
After living in the vacation home for 26 years, the Kaufman family granted guardianship to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy in the area in 1963. The organization turned the house into a public museum and oversees the preservation of its design and all the maintenance required to ensure the landmark will last for generations. To come. In 2002, Fallingwater’s famous cantilevers underwent major structural restoration to prevent collapse.
What’s so special about Fallingwater?
Edgar Kaufman Jr. once said: “It (Fallingwater) was a fine home, but it was always more than that, a work of art beyond any ordinary measure of excellence.” Surrounded by 1,543 acres of natural land, the architecture complements the spirit of its stunning environment. Although the shape of the waterfall is distinct and distinctive, it was specially designed for a family that lives in and among nature. Not only did the Kaufmans commission the right architect to realize their ideal of country living, Frank Lloyd Wright found the ideal clients to design a house that represented the pinnacle of his explorations into the relationship between land and building. Fallingwater is a 20th-century masterpiece of organic architecture, created nearly four decades before the design world began considering its impact on the planet.
Who owns Fallingwater now?
The Kaufman family owned Fallingwater until 1963 when they entrusted it to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, a nonprofit organization headquartered in Pittsburgh that conserves lands and natural resources throughout the region.