If I had an official bucket list, Frank Lloyd Wright's masterpiece, Fallingwater would be on it. Crossed off.
Last month Bob, Malcolm and I took a trip to visit Bob's mom and boyfriend in Western Maryland. They live right near the border of Pennsylvania and West Virginia in a small town that, while beautiful, is not a thriving metropolis. We talked about taking a ride on an old steam train into the mountains, but it wasn't running on the days we could go. Then Bob's mom casually mentions that we could visit Fallingwater if we wanted to.
What?! That's near here?! What are we waiting for?!
Turns out it was only about an hour and a half drive.
And so we all piled into the car and enjoyed the incredibly picturesque drive through the Western Appalachians to Mill Run, PA and Fallingwater.
I had high expectations, to be sure. But they were honestly surpassed by the experience of being in such an exhilarating space. I was incredibly inspired by just being there. The things he thought of. The details. The synergy with the natural surroundings. The inspiration of the natural surroundings. The water, the crisp air, the trees, the rocks and earth. The light.
Fallingwater was commissioned by the Kaufmann family - who owned a department store in Pittsburgh- and was built during 1936 and 1939. During the Great Depression. It was the Kaufmann's summer home. So... second homes were built even during the Great Depression. Like today. Right? Are there people out there building second homes in this economy?
We had a tour guide who led us through the house. Edgar Kaufmann Jr. helped design the tour himself. I asked a lot of questions...
Does the house leak? (Yes.)
Why isn't the kitchen on the tour? (Edgar Kaufman Jr. felt the kitchen wasn't architecturally significant enough.)
What's this button for? (For calling the servants.)
What's that smell? (It's from the humidity. We don't even notice it anymore.)
Being there filled me with such a sense of beauty. And that beauty inspires. It fills me with a joy and appreciation for life. It sharpens my eye for art in everyday objects around us. Art in nature. It makes me happy.
And Frank Lloyd Wright's uncompromising vision is undeniable. Apparently the Kaufmann's had expected him to design the house with views of the water falls. Not ON TOP of the waterfalls. That choice, so bold. It is what transforms this house from just a house to a living piece of art.
And that's how it felt being there. Like I was walking through a living piece of art. What a gift to all of us when Edgar Kaufmann Jr. donated Fallingwater to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.
You aren't allowed to take pictures of the interior, so I only have this picture of a postcard I bought in the gift shop:
You can see more pictures and all kinds of great information about Fallingwater on the website.
If I had to sum up in the most simple terms what Fallingwater inspires in me, I would say this:
1. Unencumbered thinking
2. There's no such thing as being too bold when creating
3. Uncompromising execution
Here's another pic of a postcard of Fallingwater:
And here I am with Fallingwater in the background (Hi!):
Have you been to Fallingwater?
Do you have a favorite example of architecture as art?
What does it inspire in you?