2014-07-08 00:42:39

Completed in 1937, Frank Lloyd Wright’s seminal ‘Fallingwater’ is without doubt the architect’s most significant residential design and arguably his most beautiful. Commissioned by Edgar Kaufmann Sr. (of Kaufmann’s Department Store, ultimately acquired by Macy’s) for a block of land he had in southwestern Pennsylvania, the house is listed on The Smithsonian Life’s List of 28 Places to See Before You Die (now 43 places!) and ranks 29th of 150 on the list of America’s Favorite Architecture.

Dynamic and harmonious with its environment, the design incorporates broad expanses of windows and cantilevered balconies which reach out to its surroundings, blurring the divide between inside / outside.

The design exemplifies FLW’s wholistic philosophy which was a key influence in the development of ‘American’ Mid-Century design, with its focus on organic balance, distinguishing it from the starker elements of European Internationalism.

Edgar Kaufmann Jr. was a student of FLW and, according to lore, some 9 months after receiving the commission FLW had yet to put pen to paper, contrary to his assurances to Haufmann Sr. On the Sunday morning of September 22, 1935, FLW received an excited phone call from Haufmann informing him he’d just flown into town, was eager to see the plans and was on his way over. Lloyd Wright, it is said, calmly took breakfast before sitting down with his live-in apprentices and, in the 2 hours it took Haufmann to drive from the airport, drew the complete preliminary drafts.

In Australia, the influence of this organic harmony is evident in the work of Sydney School architects Bruce Rickard and Ken Woolley. Indeed, Fallingwater’s enduring influence can even be seen in the great Harry Seidler’s - the ‘Last of the Internationalists’ - Killara residence, Harry & Penelope Seidler House.

If you find yourself in Pennsylvania, be sure to visit Fallingwater - the images do not do it justice. It is open March - December (generally all days except Wednesdays) with prices starting at $25. For more info, visit Fallingwater.org.

Google Maps: 1491 Mill Run Rd, Mill Run, PA 15464 (approx. 1.5 hrs south of Pittsburgh)