Riding down the moss lined narrow lane through the forest, a sense of calm surrounds you. All we see is the winding lane, the lush forest, spring flowers everywhere, violets, daisies, and Bear Run creek below to our right.
There is nothing to indicate that the place we have come to visit has welcomed 5.5 million visitors since it opened as a museum. We park the bikes and walk up the boardwalk to the visitor’s centre: everything is low key, low impact wooden buildings you don’t see until you get up to them.
Our 11am tour group of 9 people is invited to walk down the gravel path to the bridge on the right. It is a lovely walk through the forest. The birds are chirping and the rushing water of Bear Run creek gets louder and louder until suddenly it is revealed: Fallingwater, Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpiece!
Fallingwater was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in the 1930s, one of the most prolific, unorthodox and controversial masters of 20th-century architecture who created over 500 structures over his 70 year career, and is widely recognised as the best example of “organic architecture”, integrating buildings with nature. Edgar and Liliane Kaufmann, a prominent Pittsburgh couple, commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to build their summer retreat, knowing he shared their love of nature. They had wanted to make the view of the waterful a feature of their new home, never expecting to have the waterfall to become part of the actual house! Rather than simply look at the waterfall, Wright wanted the Kaufmanns to live with it!!
Cantilevered terraces of local sandstone blend harmoniously with the rock formations, appearing to float above the stream below and glass walls open the rooms to the surrounding landscape. As you enter any room in the house, your eye is drawn outside. But as you look at the detail inside, everything is carefully planned, in balance, serene.
In 1963 the Kaufmanns donated Fallingwater to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, together with 1,543 acres of surrounding land. Their son Edgar J. Kaufmann jr wanted visitors to have the full experience that Wright created within the spaces of the house: we were able to walk into every part of the house, like any of their guests would have, with no roped off areas, and with all the original furniture, mostly of which was designed by Wright specifically for Fallingwater.
What a privilege it was to visit Fallingwater – another man made structure that moved me in an unexpected and indescribable way.