Posted by: A Part of the Solution | September 29, 2010

Fallingwater

When people ask me what there is to do or see in the area around the farm, I direct them to the Bedford County Chamber of Commerce for useful info. As far as I’m concerned, if your bent is not for nature and outdoor activities along the lines of hiking, biking, rafting, then the jewel in our cultural crown up here is (and no, I’m not shouting out for the National Museum of the American Coverlet) Fallingwater.

Fallingwater. Some of you may be nodding your heads sagely. Some of you may be shaking your heads in confusion. Not everybody knows all about Fallingwater and its celebrated architect, Frank Lloyd Wright.

Wright has been named the most important American architect by the American Institute of Architects. His early professional years were spent working and designing primarily in Oak Park, Illinois-where at least twenty-five of his designs still stand.

After Oak Park, Wright traveled to Europe and began designing more widely across America. The piece with which we are most concerned is Fallingwater. Fallingwater is about ninety minutes by car from the farm. And it’s worth the trip and then some. Wright’s mastery of cantilevering is the most striking external feature of this lovely property. His integration of the home with a stream and water fall running under it are iconic, to say the least.

The wholly Wright designed interior opens the imaginal faculties to the possibility of entirely aesthetic daily life. He designed the furniture, much of it built-in, yes. But he also designed the drapes and rugs, the place mats and napkins, the dishes and cutlery, the throw pillows and vases. If it’s in there, it’s his work.

The more one knows of Wright’s work, the more one understands how he influenced modern assumptions about the uses of indoor space. He is credited with originating open floor plans–and Fallingwater displays this stylistic bent in a very good light indeed. Frank Lloyd Wright preferred simplicity and clear geometric masses in interiors. As a consequence, he pioneered in creating homes with clever storage units built into things, above things and as whole interior walls in an effort to keep clutter at bay.

Wright actively worked to engage his designs with the environments in which they were placed, and Fallingwater is a by-word for success in the school of Organic Architecture. The property is perched on a hillside with forest all around it. If one isn’t looking for Fallingwater, it’s easy to miss as its coloring and materials (limestone and creamy concrete) cause it to blend in with naturally occurring rock faces found in the hilly region where it’s sited.

Fallingwater was  renovated and repaired in the first years of this century. There are guided tours of the building, and lots of acreage through which one may ramble. If you’re thinking of going, plan to spend the day. If you’d like to get the most out of your time there, plan ahead and buy your tickets well in advance. This property is hot, and getting hotter as it’s on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites proposed list (with nine other iconic designs of Wright’s). If you want a good breakfast before you arrive, plan to spend the night at a Pennsylvania Farmstay.

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Responses

  1. He was an awful human being, but an amazing, amazing architect. I’ve been through Falling Water once, a few years ago, and I would happily pay the amusement-park-like price of admission to see it again. Maybe several times.

    • Yeah, he was a monster and a genius both. And Fallingwater is all that and more…

  2. Ditto, on all accounts. I loved it there, and found the disparity between Wright’s work and life pretty astounding.


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