Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater: The House and Its History


Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater: The House and Its History


Donald Hoffmann



"'As everyone knows,' Frank Lloyd Wright said, 'we live in economic, aesthetic and moral chaos, for the reason that American life has achieved no organic form.'

Organic form was Wright's credo, and its most splendid embodiment is Fallingwater. Fallingwater, the private dwelling which juts directly over a waterfall at Bear Run in western Pennsylvania, is the boldest and most personal architectural statement of Wright's mature years. When Life magazine featured it on its inside front cover (January 17, 1938), Wright wrote the owner, Pittsburgh merchant Edgar Kauffmann, to proclaim the opening of a new era in architecture.

This account covers the history of the picturesque Bear Run site and the Kauffmann family's involvement with it; the germination of a vision in Wright's mind; and the day-to-day planning, construction, alterations and cost overruns. Pre-eminent is the domineering personality of Wright, and his intimate, occasionally stormy relations with Edgar Kauffmann, called by contemporaries 'a true merchant prince.' Although Kauffmann supported and believed in Wright, the Pittsburgh retailer had his own ideas about the summer house he wanted, and the building of Fallingwater is studded with confrontations over aesthetics and structure. At one point, after Kauffmann complained of a critical engineering report, Wright told him to send the plans for Fallingwater back to Taliesin, 'since [Kauffmann] did not deserve the house.' Kauffmann apologized, and construction was began.

FALLINGWATER studies in detail the architectural innovations brought to fruition at Bear Run: the cantilevered construction, the ingenious integration with the majestic waterfall, the cascading staircases, organic use of ornament, and the problematic, ultimately triumphant us of reinforced concrete. Donald Hoffmann, author of two previous books on architecture, has based his text on interviews with Wright's apprentices and research into letters, plans and documents comprising the Bear Run papers, now on deposit in the Avery Architectural Library at Columbia University.

100 beautifully reproduced photographs, preliminary drawings, sketches and plans illustrate the history of Fallingwater. The site is pictured before, during, and after construction, with attention focused on the gradual growth of line and proportion. FRANK LLOYD WRITH'S FALLINGWATER is a complete record of the birth, growth and maturity of an architectural idea."



Publication Date



Dover Publications, Inc.


New York, NY


Architecture, Frank Lloyd Wright




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Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater: The House and Its History
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