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Posted July 9, 2001
Fallingwater is considered by many to be Frank Lloyd Wright's greatest home design, and by many others to be one of the very finest American homes ever built. Perched atop a waterfall in southwestern Pennsylvania in the Allegheny mountains, the site is visually stunning . . . and the home's organic connection to the site will astonish you. Fallingwater was designed for the Edgar Kaufmann family of Pittsburgh to be a weekend retreat away from the bustle of city life. One of Frank Lloyd Wright's comments about homes is that they must be 'integral to site; integral to environment; integral to the life of the inhabitants.' Judged by that standard, you will agree, if you are like me, that Fallingwater is his best work. The Kaufmanns wanted to have a romantic experience in the house, and he certainly provided them with one. The siting allows a Southern exposure for almost all of the rooms, a view of the waterfall and/or woods, and the constant sound of the waterfall. The final design captures nicely his sense of Nature's dual character, 'unrestrained . . . power in contrast to its subtler, ordered beauty.' The material and colors are drawn from the area as much as possible, and in some views, the home seems like simply part of the rocks it is perched on. The quotes are usually attached to specific photographs that catch the various views you see of Fallingwater from any ground position or perspective and the views from Fallingwater. They capture ideas from Wright and nonarchitectural thinkers as diverse as Thoreau and Ruskin. The photographs are the best part of this book. Since you will probably not be one of the 160,000 visitors who come in most years, these images are the way you can know the home. Almost all are in color, and are nicely distributed throughout the four seasons. My only complaint is that the book's page size should have been larger to permit a stronger connection between the viewer and these remarkable scenes. If you are like me, you will hear the water as you commune with the images. Through the essay and quotes, Fallingwater curator and administrator Lynda S. Waggoner does a marvelous job of using Fallingwater to also demonstrate the essential concepts of all Frank Lloyd Wright's architecture and interior design. After you read and enjoy this book, think a little about where you live. How have you made nature more accessible? What else could you do to make your living there to be more relaxed and natural, and to balance the rest of your life? Feel connected to all the life and natural objects around you . . . and be refreshed! Donald Mitchell, co-author of The Irresistible Growth Enterprise and The 2,000 Percent Solution
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