Wright’s Original Rendering of Fallingwater

Even if you don’t know anything about architecture, you’ve probably heard the name of famous American architect Frank Lloyd Wright.  If you know of Frank Lloyd Wright, then you’ve probably heard of his most famous built design, known as Fallingwater.

Located on PA route 381 in the Laurel Highlands area of southwest Pennsylvania (about 90 minutes from downtown Pittsburgh), Fallingwater is visited by some 160,000 visitors, annually, from around the globe.

The history of this home is filled with controversy and intrigue from it’s onset, particularly with the strained relationship between the architect and it’s owner, Edgar Kaufmann, Sr.  Not far along into the beginning of the construction process, which began in 1936, tensions heightened as Kaufmann raised questions of high concern over the structural integrity of the proposed design.  His concerns were not unfounded, and as we now know, as the cantilevered portions of the structure showed early signs of deflection (sagging) immediately after temporary bracing was removed.

Despite these structural issues, Wright’s design of Fallingwater was enjoyed by it’s original owner, and later by his son, until the early 1960’s.  At the time of construction, when the average brick home in America could be built for around $4,000, the final cost of Fallingwater, consisting of the main home,  guest home and worker’s quarters, came in at over $150,000, including the architect’s $8,000 fee (original budgeted amount for the project was $40,000).

View of Entrance

In 1995, a process began to save Fallingwater from eminent collapse.  A multi-million dollar structural repair ensued and was completed in 2002.  Today, this historical landmark rests, finally, structurally sound, eager to greet future generations of admirers.

The American Institute of Architects has put together an interactive webpage of the history of this landmark, from beginning to end, which I encourage you to view.


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