U.S. National Register of Historic Places (1976); U.S. National Historic Landmark (1966)
Situated above a waterfall in Mill Run, Pennsylvania, Fallingwater has become one of America’s favorite houses because of its organic, modern design that blends in with its surrounding nature and its cantilevered construction technology that leaves visitors in awe. It was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1935 to be a summer house for Pittsburg millionaire Edgar J. Kaufmann and his family.
The entire house is divided in two structures, the main house and the guest wing, that are connected by a semi-circular stone walkway protected by a cantilevered canopy of reinforced concrete. The main house is situated above a twenty-foot drop waterfall, the largest Bear Run waterfall; and the guest wing is located on a hill, north of the main house.
The main house, completed in 1937, is three-story high. The first story includes a large central living room with a kitchen and a dining area, two terraces one on the east and the other on the west, and glazed hatch leading down steps to the stream. The second story is comprised of a master bedroom opening into a large terrace, a guest room, a dressing room and two more terraces. The third story includes a bedroom, a study and a gallery opening onto a terrace above the center of the house.
The guest wing, built in 1939, is two-story high. The first story includes a living room, a bedroom, a swimming pool, servant’s quarters, a laundry and a garage. The second story includes three bedrooms and a terrace.
The house is located on acres of rolling woodland on the north of Bear Run, above the upper waterfall in Mill Run, Pennsylvania. Anchored in four giant sandstone boulders, the cantilevered reinforced concrete balconies of the main house float in the space over the moving stream. Native sandstone walls, piers, chimney core, and floors of cantilevered slabs of reinforced concrete make up the main house structure. Floors, indoors and out, are finished with two inch flags of native sandstone. Millwork is of black plywood, and windows and doors are of steel and glass.
Fallingwater’s cantilevered design stretches out like branches of a tree and is covered in materials and colors inspired from surrounding wilderness. Its long and horizontal reinforced concrete slabs express horizontality of giant sandstone boulders underneath the structure and linearity of Bear Run Creek, while the vertical sandstone wall intrusions mimic heights of surrounding trees and flow of the waterfall. The entire house is a fine harmony of modern geometry and curvaceousness of nature set within the tapestry of changing seasons. The open floor plan of the house bordered by large panes of glass windows and infinite amount of terrace space heighten the experience of enjoying surrounding environment and make Fallingwater a very unique summer retreat.
Fallingwater. National Historic Landmark’s Program. National Park Service. http://tps.cr.nps.gov/nhl/detail.cfm?ResourceId=1483&ResourceType=Building.
Hoffman, Donald. Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater: the House and its History. 2nd, revised ed. New York: Dover Publications Inc., 1993.
Lind, Carla. Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater. Pomegranate, 1996.
U.S. Department of the Interior. National Register of Historic Places Inventory – Nomination Form, Fallingwater. Washington, DC: GPO, 1976.
Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. Fallingwater. Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, 1988.
Depicted item: A 3D Animation Featuring the Frank Lloyd Wright Masterpiece, source: http://vimeo.com/802540