Fallingwater, Bear Run PA
Fallingwater has always been a house I have wanted to see. Living in Chicago we have many Frank Lloyd Wright houses and I have toured and seen many of them. I have read many books about Frank Lloyd Wright, including The Fountain Head by Ayn Rand in which she modeled Howard Roark after Wright and his career. So I went in with a lot of expectations and I was still surprised and excited when I walked the grounds and saw the house.
Fallingwater is set just up the road from the town of Ohiopyle (see our fun in Ohiopyle) on a small stream that feeds the Youghiogheny River called Bear Run. Built in 1936 over a waterfall the house became an instant success. Why is it so popular? 170,000 people tour the house per year. What attracted me? I hoped to find some answers.
Quick answer, I learned Wright built so much more than a house. He built a living experience. Our family lives in a house; A rectangular a-frame and it provides 3 floors of living space. The house is squeezed in-between two other houses and makes no connection to the surrounding area it was built on. "Martha", which the kids have named our house provides shelter, it is warm and comforting but built, at one time, to be affordable. Fallingwater is the opposite. Every building material, design element, interior and exterior view was chosen to add or subtract from the experience of where it was built and how it enhances the area.
As we walked the grounds and the house it continued to surprise us. The house literally defies gravity with its 30' balconies. It has as much exterior living space in its balconies, patios and gardens as it has in the interior rooms. Private stairs providing a place to dip your toes into the waterfall before it crashes over the falls. Entire walls of glass allowing copious amount of light inside and creating an living experience of never leaving the outside. Let's get to some pictures...
It was a beautiful walk to the house. Long winding paths, the sound of water surrounding you as you pass through a thick forest. Then you come upon a structure tucked away and barely visible through the trees.
After crossing the bridge we expected to find a front door but we didn't. Instead we entered a tunneled space, leaving the forest and entering Fallingwater and not yet entering the house itself.
From here we wandered onto the first floor balcony, and found some stairs leading to a wading pool in the waterfall. These stairs in this picture are right next to the wide stairs in the following picture but are not visible in the second picture.
We continue wandering around the house...
Overall an extremely enjoyable walk. The kids were too young to go inside the house so we decided to just walk the grounds. The house exceeded all expectations. I found many surprises and elements I had not read about in books. I was able to experience the house in its natural element, which is where Fallingwater needs to be seen. The true mark of something great, it is better in person. Thank you E.J Kaufmann and Frank Lloyd Wright.