Peace, tranquillity and spirituality. These are just a few terms that spring to mind when contemplating water, and these words have never been better defined than when appreciating Frank Lloyd Wright’s 1935 architectural masterpiece Falling Water. Often referred to as the Kaufmann Residence, this stunningly complex work of art redefined the architectural industry. The extensity of Wright’s work was recognized by the United States in 1966, when the home became a National Historic Landmark.
Falling Water and its Creation
A renowned architect well into his late 60’s, Frank Lloyd Wright was responsible for the design and construction of three properties in the 1930’s. Of these, Falling Water is considered his greatest achievement – and it continues to draw audiences from around the world wishing to enjoy its influential design.
The name ‘Falling Water’ pays direct tribute to the waterfall that the property has been constructed both on, and around. Wright’s intention was to utilize the natural features of the waterfall, without interfering with its natural flow. As a result, Falling Water was constructed around the flow of the waterfall, before channeling it into the river below.
This feature in itself presented unusual architectural challenges, and not just because the plot of land wasn’t wide enough for the construction to begin with. Knowing that the foundations would have to be installed in a different way to his other developments, Wright enlisted the help of several structural engineers – and with their help, a cantilevered structure was implemented. This assured that the property would remain secure and unrelenting, even with the rushing waters passing straight through its center.
Water Flow at its Finest
Many observers still comment on just how difficult it must have been construct a residence alongside an active waterfall, but Wright took this consideration into account during his initial design processes. Rather than allowing the waterfall to dictate the living space within the home, he developed a way to utilize the flow in a way that eliminated excessive noise, without interfering with the way in which the river beneath functioned.
After months of planning and a couple of years of construction, the foundations were laid and the channels within the home developed. Without affecting the waterfall as planned; walls were placed and the waterfall was simply ‘guided’, as opposed to being controlled. As functional as the house was once it had been completed, the Kauffman’s decided to use it as a weekend home – somewhere to escape the confines of the city and relax as a family.
A National Landmark
In 1963, the eldest son of the Kauffman family, Kauffman Jr, donated the entire plot to the Conservancy of Western Pennsylvania. Just a year later, it was made open to the general public and this living-museum now attracts holiday makers from around the world. Still fully functional, the waterfall running through the property is as active as ever, demonstrating the true synergy between man-made and naturalistic features. Falling Water is a property like no other, and it really is a marvel of the architectural world.
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