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7 / Domestic Life

Fallingwater (exterior)
Fallingwater (exterior)
Artist / Origin Frank Lloyd Wright (American, 1867–1959)
Region: North America
Date 1936–38
Material Concrete, steel, stone, and glass
Dimensions 5,330 sq. ft. (1,625 sq. m.)
Location Bear Run, PA
Credit ©Robert P. Ruschak, Courtesy Western Pennsylvania Conservancy

expert perspective

Lynda S. WaggonerVice President of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy/Director of Fallingwater

Additional Resources

Blake, Peter. The Master Builders: LeCorbusier/Mies van der Rohe/Frank Lloyd Wright. New York: W.W. Norton, 1960/1996.

Fallingwater Web site. http://www.fallingwater.org.

Hess, Alan, Alan Weintraub, Kenneth Frampton, and Thomas S. Hines. Frank Lloyd Wright: The Houses. New York: Rizzoli, 2005.

Hoffmann, Donald. Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater: The House and Its History, 2nd rev. ed. New York: Dover Publications, 1993.

Kaufmann, Edgar, Jr. Fallingwater: A Frank Lloyd Wright Country House. New York: Abbeville, 1986.

Stoller, Ezra. Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater. Princeton: Princeton Architectural Press, 1999.

Toker, Franklin. Fallingwater Rising: Frank Lloyd Wright, E. J. Kaufmann, and America’s Most Extraordinary House. New York: Knopf, 2005.

Waggoner, Lynda S. Fallingwater: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Romance with Nature. New York: Universe, 1996.

Fallingwater (exterior)

» Frank Lloyd Wright (American, 1867–1959)

The Kauffmans—Edgar, Liliane, and their son Edgar, Jr.—lived in Pittsburgh, where they owned a department store, but they regularly retreated to the nearby mountains to get away from the industrial pollution of the city.

In the mid-1930s, they decided to build a vacation house along a mountain stream called Bear Run, and hired Frank Lloyd Wright to design it.

By the thirties, Wright had already gained prominence as an architect, in particular, for his design of houses. The long, low Prairie style for which he was best known was exemplified in his design for the Robie House in Chicago (completed 1910), which revolutionized American domestic architecture. Wright was inspired by the complete integration of form and function in nature. He was adamant that style should not be imposed. He believed that the aesthetics of a structure should be organically connected to the site and properties of its building materials.

At Fallingwater, Wright achieved the marriage of form and function, as well as the union of site and structure. The wide, flat, cantilevered terraces made of reinforced concrete echo the rocks in the natural landscape and appear to float above the water below. Wright asserted that he wanted the Kauffmans to live with the environment at Bear Run, for it to be apart of their everyday lives. There is almost as much living space on the outdoor terraces as there is inside the house. Rather than situating the structure with a view of the thirty-foot waterfall, Wright built it directly above the waterfall.

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