Fallingwater is a private house, which extraordinary design gains the status of one of the most photographed and visited houses in the world. The famous house is built over a waterfall and, therefore, catches its blaze of publicity. Due to the cover of the Time magazine in 1938, the whole world got acquainted with an extraordinary house, which brings joy and wonderment for every visitor. At that time, it was a new step in the architecture, which brought fame to its inventive designer and constructor. The house is like the riot against all the classical norms of the city architecture. However, it remains a representation of integration with the nature and its sources. The picturesque landscapes, unique outdoor and indoor designs attract thousands of tourists from all over the world. Everyone is eager to see and feel the unusual atmosphere of the Fallingwater house. Nowadays, Fallingwater by Frank Lloyd Wright is regarded as a National Historic Landmark (Stoller 3).
As it is mentioned in the private website of Fallingwater, Kaufmanns were the owners of the house. Pittsburgh, PA is a hometown of the family. In 1930s, they had their own department store there. Edgar junior was the only son in the Kaufmann family. All together they used to have mountain vacations, enjoyed walks in the forests and swimming in the rivers. They lived in the city, which was famous for its air pollution. Therefore, every citizen grasped the opportunity to breathe fresh air high in the mountains. Because of the hectic way of life in Pittsburgh, the Kaufmanns dreamt to escape from the city and rest in the calm surrounding. Later on, they got a chance to make their dream come true:
The Kaufmanns had a summer camp for the department store employees, located along a mountain stream called Bear Run. When the Great Depression made daily living so hard for so many people, the employees no longer had time or money to come up to Kaufmanns Summer Camp. But Mr. and Mrs. Kaufmann and their son dearly loved the mountains, and decided to make the summer camp their own country estate. Their summer camp home had been a very small cabin with no heat and no running water. They slept outdoors on screened porches! The cabin stood very near a country road. When traffic became noisy after the road was paved, the Kaufmanns decided it was time to build a more modern vacation house. They turned to Frank Lloyd Wright to design it for them (Fallingwater n.pag.).
Kaufmann Residence was designed in 1935 by Frank Lloyd Wright in the rural southwestern Pennsylvania. The famous house was constructed near a waterfall on Bear Run. However, the designers faced some problems while building the house. Consequently, Wright had to solve a great deal of inconveniences before starting building. First of all, Bear Run was not large enough to make a strong foundation for a house. Moreover, the Kaufmanns wanted their designer to build a big house and invite a lot of people, which would be impossible in a small house. Second of all, the customers’ desire was to have separate rooms for every member of the family as well as an additional guest room. These were the problems Wright had to resolve immediately. Otherwise, the pro-planned construction would be impossible and it would be useless to begin the work. Finally, the designer came up with an idea of building a house on a cantilevered structure. The most distinctive peculiarities of the Fallingwater house were horizontal as well as vertical lines, which were notable for their massive and strong features. Mendel Glickman and William Wesley Peters were the staff engineers responsible for the column construction.
For the cantilevered floors, Wright and his team used upside down T-shaped beams integrated into a monolithic concrete slab which both formed the ceiling of the space below and provided resistance against compression. The contractor, Walter Hall, also an engineer, produced independent computations and argued for increasing the reinforcing steel in the first floor’s slab. Once the concrete formwork was removed, the cantilever developed noticeable sag. In October 1937, the main house was completed (Wikipedia n.pag.).
In the New York Times, it was mentioned that the constructors of the Fallingwater were facing numerous problems. Initially, there were a lot of misunderstandings between Kaufmann, Wright and the contractor concerning the size of the house and the construction itself. Wright no longer wanted to continue doing this job. However, Kaufman insisted on Wright’s further work, and all the heated discussions settled down. Nevertheless, the house came up with lots of constructional flaws, which could even lead to its fall. When the house was opening for a season, the visitors could see the holes in the floor.
We opened up the floor to look for cracks, and we found them,'' said Lynda Waggoner, director of Fallingwater, which was voted the country's most significant building by the American Institute of Architects in 1991. On opening day, architecture students, looking like visitors to an archeological dig, crouched around the hole and examined the concrete beams beneath the flagstone floor and redwood subfloor (Bernstein, n.pag.)
Fallingwater is a masterpiece created by Frank Lloyd Wright. This house makes every visitor unite with nature and live in a harmony and total understanding. Fallingwater is a house, which makes one forget about the rush hours, sleepless nights, and daily routine. The first impression, which one may get while seeing it, is that civilization does not exist. At least, one has to forget about it for a while. Fallingwater represented a new stage in the life of its designer, the result of which was a construction of the new fresh idea of the “natural construction”. An outward appearance as well as the interior has surprised its visitors a lot. The fireplace, large windows, stone floors, unusual sofas – everything creates a unique interior spirit. Frank Lloyd Wright one said in his interview:
There in a beautiful forest was a solid, high rock ledge rising beside a waterfall, and the natural thing seemed to be to cantilever the house from that rock bank over the falling water... (Powell n.pag.)
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