Fallingwater is a house designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright in 1935-37 in rural southwestern Pennsylvania. 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.” Though the house was a private property when it was built and 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, in 1963 Edgar Kaufmann jr. donated the property to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.
It is stated that the inspiration for Fallingwater actually came from the Kaufmanns love for Bear Run’s rushing waterfalls. Based on owner’s preference, Wright planned a residence place do not as the Kaufmanns were expecting across from the falls where they could be enjoyed from afar, but cantilevered directly over them. The aim here was allow the Kaufmanns to not only simply view nature, but actually live in its midst. Though the design was unrivaled by contemporary American architects at the time, Wright took just couple of hours to draw the design. The name Fallingwater was also conceived seemingly on the spot, hand-lettered by the architect across the bottom of the drawings.
Fallingwater’s design to create a home that is sheltering, but at the same time blurs the boundary between inside and outside. Stone floors continue out onto terraces, corner windows that open outward to break the box, and expanses of plate glass that frame nature through its four seasons.
Echoing a natural pattern established by its neighbouring rock ledges, Wright positioned the house over the falls in a stacked grouping of cantilevered concrete “trays,” each anchored to a central stone chimney mass of locally quarried Pottsville sandstone. Although the house rises more than thirty feet above the falls, the strong horizontal lines and resulting low ceilings reinforce the safe, sheltering effect Wright sought to achieve. Fallingwater’s design is considered as the epitome of organic architecture, symbolizing the harmony between people and nature.