Frank Lloyd Wright, Falling Water. Winter.
A lot has been written about this home, which the famous American architect designed for the wealthy Kaufmann family in 1936. The aspect that visitors to the building seem to return to again and again is its placement. It certainly is striking. The riverside edge jutting over the water, the lower story stretching itself out and above the Bear Run river even further than the upper story, giving the impression that the building itself might disintegrate at any minute. Simply trickle down into the gushing waters below.
This aspect, from the opposite bank, looking at the South-East face is a famous one. It illustrates well Lloyd Wright’s intention that Bear Run and its waterfall become integrated into the Kaufmann’s home, not simply provide a pretty view, to be glanced at from time to time.
For me, the lovely form of the building’s exterior is highlighted in this image, by the fact that the river is frozen over, icily still. The movement implicit in Falling Water’s design is exaggerated when set against the backdrop of wintry stillness this image evokes. One notices the vertical lines that dash down the window, which in turn one notes is remarkably long, extending down the entire length of the building. These beautifully echo the lines of the water coming down the fall, mirroring the building’s natural surroundings.
The stepped, almost squat shape of Falling Water, that has been adapted to the hill on which it sits, that does not compete with the tall tress or the wide river, is both modest and charming.
To me, this building finds a perfect bespoke solution to a common modern architectural conundrum: when faced with a site full of natural beauty, does one attempt to blend in and camouflage the building, or to boldly defy the surroundings and stand out?
Tell me what you think about Falling Water in the wintertime. Send comments to my Ask Box.