Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Last weekend we had the opportunity to fulfill one of our life long missions, to visit Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater. It's hard to put into words just how spectacular the entire experience was mainly because every single aspect of it was so incredible, from the architecture to the landscape, to the sound of rushing water. Yes, our first impression was how unexpectedly loud the water was coming off of the waterfall right below the main cantilevered terrace. It also took just a moment to take it all in because of the sheer genius Wright used in situating the house within the landscape. Every step and every turn presented a vista more beautiful than the last, and once we thought we had finally been able to process it all, we kept asking ourselves "....how the hell did he do it!" Especially considering that it was built in 1936! We were fortunate to have great weather and the colorful fall leaves provided the most intense backdrop for this modern masterpiece. There have been hundreds of books written about Fallingwater and thousands of photos taken of the house, so we're certainly not going to try and give a thorough background on it's history, but we would like to offer up a few facts we found fascinating:
-The house was commissioned by prominent businessman and philanthropist Edgar S. Kaufmann Sr. back in 1935, and Wright was given a budget of $30,000. It ended up costing $155,000, which included an $8,000 architect's fee and $4,500 worth of walnut built-in furnishings.
-Cantilevered over a waterfall in the Pennsylvania mountains, the main house was constructed from 1936-38, followed by the guest house in 1939.
-Inspired by natural sandstone ledges at the waterfall, Wright designed the home as a series of trays set on native sandstone columns and walls to rise more than 30 feet above a nature reserve known as Bear Run.
-It is a supreme example of Wright's concept of organic architecture which promotes harmony between man and nature through design, integrating a building with it's natural surrounding.
-The main house is a generous 5,330 sq. ft. (2,885 sq. ft interior and 2,445 sq. ft terraces).
-Wright used only two paint colors throughout the entire house: a light ochre for the concrete and his signature Cherokee red for the steel. The ochre color was inspired by the back of a dried rhododendron leaf (these plants run rampant throughout the property).
-At one point Wright suggested that the house's concrete surfaces be coated in gold leaf.
-In 1938, Time magazine had Fallingwater on it's cover hailing it as Wright's "most beautiful job."
-The home inspired Ayn Rand's novel The Fountainhead.
-Fallingwater is the only major Wright-designed house open to the public with its furnishings, artwork and setting intact.
-4 million people have visited the home since opening to the public in 1964.
-There were many famous overnight guests at Fallingwater including Albert Einstein and now you can stay overnight as well. Click here for more details (this is our next goal!)
To learn even more about this architectural gem click here!