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Fallingwater or Kaufmann Residence is a house designed by American architect Frank

Lloyd Wright in 1935 in rural southwestern Pennsylvania, 50 miles southeast of


Pittsburgh. The home was built partly over a waterfall on Bear Run in the Mill Run
section of Stewart Township, Fayette County, Pennsylvania, in the Laurel Highlands of
the Allegheny Mountains.

Hailed by Time shortly after its completion as Wright's "most beautiful job",[3] it is also
listed among Smithsonian's Life List of 28 places "to visit before you die."[4] It was
designated a National Historic Landmark in 1966.[2] In 1991, members of the American
Institute of Architects named the house the "best all-time work of American architecture"
and in 2007, it was ranked twenty-ninth on the list of America's Favorite Architecture
according to the AIA. Fallingwater was featured in Bob Vila's A&E Network production
Guide to Historic Homes of America.[5]

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Interior of Fallingwater depicting a sitting area with furnishings designed by Wright

Fallingwater stands as one of Wright's greatest masterpieces both for its dynamism and
for its integration with the striking natural surroundings. 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. Tadao Ando once stated: "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."[15]

The extent of Wright's genius in integrating every detail of his design can only be hinted
at in photographs. This 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 which flows beneath the house. 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.[citation needed] The stone
floors are waxed, while the hearth is left plain, giving the impression of dry rocks
protruding from a stream.

Integration with the setting extends even to small details. For example, where glass meets
stone walls there is no metal frame; 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. There are stairways leading directly down to the stream, below the house. And in
a connecting space which transitions from the main house to 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.

Driveway leading to the entrance of Fallingwater

Bear Run and the sound of its water permeating the house, the home's immediate
surroundings, 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. A glass-
encased interior staircase leads down from the living room and allows direct access to the
rushing stream below. In conformance with Wright's views the main entry door is away
from the falls.

On the hillside above the main house stands a three-bay carport, servants' quarters, and a
guest bedroom. 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 to the river below. After Fallingwater was
deeded to the public, the carport was 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

Design and construction

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.

Preliminary plans were issued to Kaufmann for approval on October 15, 1935,[10] after
which Wright made a further 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 only made periodic visits during
construction, instead assigning his apprentice Robert Mosher as his permanent on-site
representative.[10] The final working drawings were issued by Wright in March 1936 with
work beginning on the bridge and main house in April 1936.

The strong horizontal and vertical lines are a distinctive feature of Fallingwater

The construction was plagued by conflicts between Wright, Kaufmann, and the
construction contractor. Uncomfortable with what he perceived 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 and immediately requested Kaufmann to return his drawings and indicated
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.[10]

After a visit to the site in June 1936 Wright rejected the stone masonry for the bridge,
which had to be rebuilt.[citation needed]

For the cantilevered floors Wright and his team used upside down T-shaped beams
integrated into a monolithic concrete slab which both formed 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 rebuffed the contractor. While some sources state
that it was the contractor who quietly doubled the amount of reinforcement,[11] according
to others,[10] it was at Kaufmann’s request that his consulting engineers redrew Wright’s
reinforcing drawings and doubled the amount of steel specified by Wright. This
additional steel not only added weight to the slab but was set so close together that the
concrete often could not properly fill in between the steel, which weakened the slab.[citation
needed]
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. As a result, the cantilever developed a noticeable sag.
Upon learning of the steel addition without his approval Wright recalled Mosher.[12]

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.[13]

In October 1937 the main house was completed