Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Fabulous Fallingwater

After much planning and even more anticipation, Jules and I collected the keys of our rental car and hit road early heading out of Pittsburgh. We had spoken of this journey for over thirty years without ever really believing that we would actually make this trip to view Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpiece ‘Fallingwater’. Jules had done plenty of preplanning and had even viewed each stage of the journey on Google Maps, but this trip was for real. As we headed toward Mill Run, the countryside became lush and beautiful while the sun began to gently shine through and after ninety minutes of driving we were there. Looking at the filling car park, it seemed that others were also undertaking the same pilgrimage. As we walked down the wooded path, we wondered whether the anticipation would be bigger than the reality, but as the house came into view we both knew that it would live up to expectations. Being wonderfully maintained, it looked as good as it did when it was completed in 1937. In fact it was almost exactly the same, with the original fittings, furniture and artwork left just as it was when Edgar Kaufmann Jr. donated it to the state of Pennsylvania. As we walked through each room, we really sensed Wright’s efforts to bring nature indoors and to allow its occupants to view and experience the beauty of the surrounding countryside from the large cantilever balconies. All the while there was the gentle sound of the water from the waterfall that falls directly below the foundations of the building, achieving one of its most unique features. How tranquil this place must have been for the original owners and how fortunate they were to have Wright design such a unique building for them to appreciate. As we continued our tour, our guide provided many snippets of interesting information regarding the design, the relationship between Mr. Wright and the Kaufmans and what life was like living there. Eventually we made our way down stream to see the classic exterior view of ‘Fallingwater’ that adorns the cover of so many books on modern architecture. It remains quite breathtaking and it's not at all surprising that the American Institute of Architects named the house the "best all-time work of American architecture". For us, it satisfied all of our expectations and made our efforts to get there worthwhile. We had seen what we came to see and had fulfilled a long held ambition. To complete our Frank Lloyd Wright experience, we took the short drive to nearby ‘Kentuck Knob’ to see yet another one of his buildings. Built sixteen years later (1953) it shows another dimension to Wrights domestic architecture. Although it was a very interesting and a totally different type of design conceptually, it was hard for us not to compare it against ‘Fallingwater’. After all, we had just viewed perfection and how can you top that!

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