From apparel and books to gifts and jewelry, our online store has a large selection of Frank Lloyd Wright and Fallingwater inspired merchandise. Members receive a 10% discount.More
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The strong horizontal and vertical lines are a distinctive feature of Fallingwater
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The organically designed private residence was intended to be a nature retreat for its owners. The house is well-known for its connection to the site. It is built on top of an active waterfall that flows beneath the house.
As reported by Frank Lloyd Wright’s apprentices at Taliesin, Edgar Kaufmann Sr. was in Milwaukee on September 22, nine months after their initial meeting, and called Wright at home early Sunday morning to surprise him with the news that he would be visiting Wright that day. Kaufmann could not wait to see Wright’s plans. Wright had told Kaufmann in earlier communication that he had been working on the plans, but had not actually drawn anything. After breakfast that morning, amid a group of very nervous apprentices, Wright calmly drew the plans in the two hours in which it took Kaufmann to drive to Taliesin.
Learn more about Fallingwater’s special tours, upcoming exhibitions, educational opportunities, and more in our new quarterly eNewsletter. More
Fallingwater was the family’s weekend home from 1937 until 1963, when Edgar Kaufmann Jr. donated the property to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. The family retreated at Fallingwater on weekends to escape the heat and smoke of industrial Pittsburgh. Liliane enjoyed swimming in the nude and collecting modern art, especially the works of Diego Rivera, who was a guest at the country house.
Inspiration from Frank Lloyd Wright’s work can also be found in two other houses in southwestern Pennsylvania that are excellent examples of his Usonian-style architecture. More
Our visitors often tell us that one of their most delightful discoveries while touring Fallingwater was our Café located in our Visitor Center. More
Fallingwater stands as one of Wright’s greatest masterpieces both for its dynamism and for its integration with its striking natural surroundings. Fallingwater has been described as an architectural tour de force of Wright’s organic architecture. Wright’s passion for Japanese architecture was strongly reflected in the design of Fallingwater, particularly in the importance of interpenetrating exterior and interior spaces and the strong emphasis placed on harmony between man and nature. Contemporary Japanese architect Tadao Ando has said of the house:
Depictions in popular culture Fallingwater inspired the fictional Vandamm residence at Mount Rushmore in the 1959 Alfred Hitchcock film North by Northwest. Composer Michael Daugherty’s 2013 concerto for violin and string orchestra, “Fallingwater”, was inspired by the house.
 The cover of Autechre EP Envane traces and stylizes parts of the building See also
On December 18, 1934, Wright visited Bear Run and asked for a survey of the area around the waterfall. One was prepared by Fayette Engineering Company of Uniontown, Pennsylvania, including all the site’s boulders, trees, and topography, and forwarded to Wright in March 1935.
LocationMill Run, PennsylvaniaNearest cityUniontownCoordinates39°54′22″N 79°28′5″W / 39.90611°N 79.46806°W / 39.90611; -79.46806Coordinates: 39°54′22″N 79°28′5″W / 39.
90611°N 79.46806°W / 39.90611; -79.46806Built1936–1939ArchitectFrank Lloyd WrightArchitectural styleModern architectureVisitationabout 135,000NRHP reference #74001781Significant datesAdded to NRHPJuly 23, 1974Designated NHLMay 23, 1966Designated PHMCMay 15, 1994
Fallingwater is one of the most unique houses in the world, and it needed people just as unique to help make this timeless treasure a reality. More
Fallingwater’s six bathrooms are lined with cork tiles. When used as a flooring material, the cork tiles were hand waxed, giving them a shiny finish that supplemented their natural ability to repel water. Over time, the cork has begun to show water damage in locations where water leaks persist. The Conservancy continues to restore these surfaces by removing the damaged cork and restoring the concrete underneath from any water damage before applying new cork tiles.
Enrollment is open through March 15, 2019 for the Fallingwater Gnome House Design Challenge, an educational program for classroom teachers and homeschoolers. More
Explore the Kaufmann Conservation at Bear Run Nature Reserve
For the cantilevered floors, Wright and his team used upside-down T-shaped beams integrated into a monolithic concrete slab which formed both the ceiling of the space below and provided resistance against compression. The contractor, Walter Hall, also an engineer, produced independent computations and argued for increasing the reinforcing steel in the first floor’s slab. Wright refused the suggestion. While some sources state that the contractor quietly doubled the amount of reinforcement, others say that Kaufmann’s consulting engineers – at Kaufman’s request – redrew Wright’s reinforcing drawings and doubled the amount of steel specified by Wright.
Integration with the setting extends even to small details. For example, where glass meets stone walls no metal frame is used; rather, the glass and its horizontal dividers were run into a caulked recess in the stonework so that the stone walls appear uninterrupted by glazing. From the cantilevered living room, a stairway leads directly down to the stream below, and in a connecting space which connects the main house with the guest and servant level, a natural spring drips water inside, which is then channeled back out. Bedrooms are small, some with low ceilings to encourage people outward toward the open social areas, decks, and outdoors.
Edgar J. Kaufmann, Sr. was a Pittsburgh businessman and president of Kaufmann’s Department Store. Edgar and Liliane’s only child, Edgar Kaufmann Jr., eventually became the catalyst for his father’s relationship with Frank Lloyd Wright.
I think Wright learned the most important aspect of architecture, the treatment of space, from Japanese architecture. When I visited Fallingwater in Pennsylvania, I found that same sensibility of space. But there was the additional sounds of nature that appealed to me.
Bear Run and the sound of its water permeate the house, especially during the spring when the snow is melting, and locally quarried stone walls and cantilevered terraces resembling the nearby rock formations are meant to be in harmony. The design incorporates broad expanses of windows and balconies which reach out into their surroundings. In conformance with Wright’s views, the main entry door is away from the falls.
Wright had initially planned to have the house blend into its natural settings in rural Pennsylvania. In doing so, he limited his color choices to two colors, light ochre for the concrete and his signature Cherokee red for the steel.
The total cost of $155,000, adjusted for inflation, is equivalent to about $2.7 million in 2017. The cost of the house’s restoration in 2001 was estimated to be $11.5 million (approximately $15.9 million in 2017).
In 2002, the structure was repaired permanently using post-tensioning. The living room flagstone floor blocks were individually tagged and removed. Blocks were joined to the concrete cantilever beams and floor joists, high-strength steel cables were fed through the blocks and exterior concrete walls and tightened using jacks. The floors and walls were then restored, leaving Fallingwater’s interior and exterior appearance unchanged. Today, the cantilevers have sufficient support, and the deflection stopped. The Conservancy continues to monitor movement in the cantilevers.
Categories: Frank Lloyd Wright buildingsHouses in Fayette County, PennsylvaniaHistoric house museums in PennsylvaniaMuseums in Fayette County, PennsylvaniaHouses completed in 1939Houses on the National Register of Historic Places in PennsylvaniaNational Historic Landmarks in PennsylvaniaPennsylvania state historical marker significationsLaurel HighlandsModernist architecture in PennsylvaniaNational Register of Historic Places in Fayette County, PennsylvaniaRestored and conserved buildings
Thank you to our members, friends and guests who attended the 23rd Annual Twilight Tour this year! More
A model of the house was featured at the Museum of Modern Art in 2009.
With Kaufmann’s approval, the consulting engineers arranged for the contractor to install a supporting wall under the main supporting beam for the west terrace. When Wright discovered it on a site visit, he had Mosher discreetly remove the top course of stones. When Kaufmann later confessed to what had been done, Wright showed him what Mosher had done and pointed out that the cantilever had held up for the past month under test loads without the wall’s support.
In 1995, the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy commissioned a study of Fallingwater’s structural integrity. Structural engineers analyzed the movement of the cantilevers over time and conducted radar studies of the cantilevers to locate and quantify the reinforcement. These showed that the contractor had indeed added reinforcement over Wright’s plan; nevertheless, the cantilevers were still insufficiently reinforced. An architecture firm was hired to fix the problem. Both the concrete and its steel reinforcement were close to their failure limits. As a result, in 1997, temporary girders were installed beneath the cantilevers to carry their weight.
Dates have been announced for the Fallingwater Institute’s 2019 programming. More
Fallingwater is a house designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright in 1935 in rural southwestern Pennsylvania, 43 miles (69 km) southeast of Pittsburgh. The house was built partly over a waterfall on Bear Run in the Mill Run section of Stewart Township, Fayette County, Pennsylvania, located in the Laurel Highlands of the Allegheny Mountains. The house was designed as a weekend home for the family of Liliane Kaufmann and her husband, Edgar J. Kaufmann, Sr., owner of Kaufmann’s Department Store.
More than 450 Fayette County residents joined us November 18 for our annual Fayette County Day funded by the Jack Buncher Foundation. Fayette County residents can still get free tickets on Saturday, Dec. 8. Book your tickets today! More
Preliminary plans were issued to Kaufmann for approval on October 15, 1935, after which Wright made an additional visit to the site and provided a cost estimate for the job. In December 1935, an old rock quarry was reopened to the west of the site to provide the stones needed for the house’s walls. Wright visited only periodically during construction, assigning his apprentice Robert Mosher as his permanent on-site representative. The final working drawings were issued by Wright in March 1936, with work beginning on the bridge and main house in April.
After its completion, Time called Fallingwater Wright’s “most beautiful job,” and it is listed among Smithsonian’s “Life List of 28 places to visit before you die.” The house was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1966. In 1991, members of the American Institute of Architects named Fallingwater the “best all-time work of American architecture” and in 2007, it was ranked 29th on the list of America’s Favorite Architecture according to the AIA.
The main house was completed in 1938, and the guest house was completed the following year.
The Kaufmanns lived in “La Tourelle”, a French Norman estate in Fox Chapel designed in 1923 for Edgar J. Kaufmann by Pittsburgh architect Benno Janssen. However, the family also owned a remote property outside Pittsburgh — a small cabin near a waterfall — which was used as a summer retreat. When these cabins deteriorated, Mr. Kaufmann contacted Wright.
On the hillside above the main house stands a four-bay carport, servants’ quarters, and a guest house. These attached outbuildings were built two years later using the same quality of materials and attention to detail as the main house. The guest quarters feature a spring-fed swimming pool which overflows and drains to the river below.
View a free exhibition, Kaufmann’s Summer Camp: For an Ideal Vacation, that showcases historic photography and postcards of Bear Run before Fallingwater was built.
A cantilevered structure was used to address these requests. The structural design for Fallingwater was undertaken by Wright in association with staff engineers Mendel Glickman and William Wesley Peters, who had been responsible for the columns featured in Wright’s revolutionary design for the Johnson Wax Headquarters.
Fallingwater has shown signs of deterioration over the past 80 years, due in large part to its exposure to humidity and sunlight. The severe freeze-thaw conditions of southwest Pennsylvania and water infiltration also affect the structural materials. Because of these conditions, a thorough cleaning of the exterior stone walls is performed periodically. Various areas of the house are repainted as needed as part of the ongoing care of the masonry.
At age 67, Frank Lloyd Wright was given the opportunity to design and construct three buildings. With his three works of the late 1930s—Fallingwater; the Johnson Wax Building in Racine, Wisconsin; and the Herbert Jacobs house in Madison, Wisconsin—Wright regained his prominence in the architectural community.
Kaufmann Desert House, another Kaufmann residence Kentuck Knob, another Wright-designed residence in the same area References Bibliography Trapp, Frank (1987). Peter Blume. Rizzoli, New York.
Hoffmann, Donald (1993). Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater: The House and Its History (2nd ed.). Dover Publications. ISBN 0-486-27430-6. Brand, Stewart (1995). How Buildings Learn: What Happens After They’re Built.
Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-013996-6. McCarter, Robert (2002). Fallingwater Aid (Architecture in Detail). Phaidon Press. ISBN 0-7148-4213-3. Further reading Donald Hoffman, Fallingwater: The House and Its History (Dover Publications, 1993) Edgar Kaufmann Jr.
, Fallingwater: A Frank Lloyd Wright Country House (Abbeville Press 1986) Robert McCarter, Fallingwater Aid (Architecture in Detail) (Phaidon Press 2002) Franklin Toker, Fallingwater Rising: Frank Lloyd Wright, E.
J. Kaufmann, and America’s Most Extraordinary House (Knopf, 2005) Lynda S. Waggoner and the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, Fallingwater: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Romance With Nature (Universe Publishing 1996) External links Wikimedia Commons has media related to Fallingwater.
Official website Western Pennsylvania Conservancy website Architectural Record article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article Photographs National Register nomination form A virtual reality model of the exterior and landscape on Sketchfab.
After Fallingwater was deeded to the public, three carport bays were enclosed at the direction of Kaufmann Jr. to be used by museum visitors to view a presentation at the end of their guided tours on the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy (to which the home was entrusted). Kaufmann Jr. designed its interior himself, to specifications found in other Fallingwater interiors by Wright.
The fireplace hearth in the living room integrates boulders found on the site and upon which the house was built — ledge rock which protrudes up to a foot through the living room floor was left in place to demonstrably link the outside with the inside. Wright had initially intended that the ledge be cut flush with the floor, but this had been one of the Kaufmann family’s favorite sunning spots, so Mr. Kaufmann suggested that it be left as it was. The stone floors are waxed, while the hearth is left plain, giving the impression of dry rocks protruding from a stream.
In addition, the contractor did not build in a slight upward incline in the formwork for the cantilever to compensate for the settling and deflection of the cantilever. Once the concrete formwork was removed, the cantilever developed a noticeable sag. Upon learning of the unapproved steel addition, Wright recalled Mosher.
Bring your mind. Bring your senses. Bring your sense of wonder. Fallingwater’s educational programs require that you bring all three. More
Miniature replica of the Fallingwater building at MRRV, Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh
Since Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater opened to the public in 1964, more than five million visitors have experienced this architectural masterwork. More
Become a Friend of Fallingwater today. Enjoy membership benefits that bring you closer to Fallingwater and Frank Lloyd Wright, while preserving Fallingwater and educating students of all ages.More
Kaufmann Jr. said, “[Wright] understood that people were creatures of nature, hence an architecture which conformed to nature would conform to what was basic in people. For example, although all of Falling Water [sic] is opened by broad bands of windows, people inside are sheltered as in a deep cave, secure in the sense of the hill behind them.”
The construction was plagued by conflicts between Wright, Kaufmann and the construction contractor. Uncomfortable with what he saw as Wright’s insufficient experience using reinforced concrete, Kaufmann had the architect’s daring cantilever design reviewed by a firm of consulting engineers. Upon receiving their report, Wright took offense, immediately requesting that Kaufmann return his drawings and indicating that he was withdrawing from the project. Kaufmann relented to Wright’s gambit, and the engineer’s report was subsequently buried within a stone wall of the house.
The boards and staff of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy and Fallingwater extend their heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of the Tree of Life synagogue victims, the congregation’s members and all of Pittsburgh’s Jewish community. As we heal together as a community, WPC will honor the lives and memories of the 11 people taken from us so senselessly and tragically on Oct. 27, 2018. Memorial tree plantings will take place in December at the Conservancy’s Pittsburgh office and at Fallingwater.
After his father’s death in 1955, Edgar Kaufmann Jr. inherited Fallingwater, continuing to use it as a weekend retreat until the early 1960s. Increasingly concerned with ensuring Fallingwater’s preservation, and following his father’s wishes, he entrusted Fallingwater and approximately 1,500 acres of land to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy as tribute to his parents. Edgar Jr. guided the organization’s thinking about Fallingwater’s administration, care and educational programming and was a frequent visitor even as guided public tours began in 1964. Kaufmann’s partner, the architect and designer Paul Mayén, also contributed to the legacy of Fallingwater with a design for the site’s visitor center, completed in 1981. The house attracts more than 160,000 visitors from around the world each year.
Maintaining the appearance, integrity and appeal of Fallingwater for visitors from across the world is an effort that involves a team of conservators, museum professionals and preservation specialists. More
The original estimated cost for building Fallingwater was $35,000. The final cost for the home and guest house was $155,000, which included $75,000 for the house; $22,000 for finishings and furnishings; $50,000 for the guest house, garage and servants’ quarters; and an $8,000 architect’s fee. From 1938 through 1941, more than $22,000 was spent on additional details and for changes in the hardware and lighting.
The interior of Fallingwater, showing a sitting area with furnishings designed by Wright
Wright designed the home above the waterfall, rather than below to afford a view of the cascades as Kaufmann had expected. It has been said that Kaufmann was initially very upset that Wright had designed the house to sit atop the falls. Kaufmann had wanted the house located on the southern bank of Bear Run, directly facing the falls. He told Wright that they were his favorite aspect of the property.
In the summer of 1934, Edgar Jr. read Frank Lloyd Wright’s An Autobiography (1932), and traveled to meet Wright at his home in Wisconsin in late September. Within three weeks, Edgar Jr. began an apprenticeship at the Taliesin Fellowship, a communal architecture program established in 1932 by Wright and his wife, Olgivanna. It was during a visit with Edgar Jr. at Taliesin in November 1934 that Edgar and Liliane Kaufmann first met Frank Lloyd Wright.
The Barn at Fallingwater is a unique site that will allow you to create an unforgettable wedding experience or convene the ideal meeting, event or conference for your business or organization. More
The Kaufmanns planned to entertain large groups of people, so the house needed to be larger than the original plot allowed. Also, Mr. and Mrs. Kaufmann requested separate bedrooms, as well as a bedroom for their adult son, and an additional guest room, for a total of four bedrooms.
In addition, Fallingwater’s structural system includes a series of very bold reinforced concrete cantilevered balconies. Pronounced deflection of the concrete cantilevers was noticed as soon as formwork was removed at the construction stage. This deflection continued to increase over time, and eventually reached 7 inches (180 mm) over a 15 foot (4.6 m) span.
1 History 1.1 The Kaufmanns 1.2 Construction 1.3 Cost 1.4 Usage 2 Design 3 Western Pennsylvania Conservancy 3.1 Preservation at Fallingwater 4 Depictions in popular culture 5 See also 6 References 6.1 Bibliography 7 Further reading 8 External links
Earning national attention for culinary creativity and known for its locally inspired seasonal menu, the Fallingwater Café will delight as an appetizing complement to your visit. More