Discover the History of Fallingwater House

It is one of the most important pieces of architecture of the 20th Century. Located in the US, Fallingwater was built in the 1930s and is still greatly admired by architects all around the world.
Discover the History of Fallingwater House

Last update: 28 January, 2021

Fallingwater is an important piece of modern architecture. Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright (one of the greatest American architects of all time), this house was built in the 1930s and continues to surprise and delight all who are lucky enough to see it. We’ll tell you all about it in the following article.

The history of Fallingwater

The Kaufmann residence, which is known as Fallingwater, was designed by world-famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright. It stands on top of a waterfall on the Bear Run river in Pennsylvania, USA.

This house is undoubtedly one of Wright’s greatest masterpieces, and a landmark achievement in modern architecture. In fact, the American Institute of Architects named Fallingwater the “best all-time work of American architecture”.

Fallingwater was the country home of the Kaufmann family – husband and wife, Edgar and Liliane, and their son, Edgar Jr. They owned one of the biggest department stores in the Pittsburgh area. The company’s employees used the grounds as a summer campsite up until the time of The Great Depression. The family continued to use the house between 1937 and 1963.

When his parents died, Edgar Jr. donated Fallingwater to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. In 1964, the association opened the house to the public, and it has since received more than 4 million visitors.

The terraces of Fallingwater hang over the river.

Fallingwater: characteristics

This isn’t the location the family initially chose for their country home. However, after studying the topography of the grounds, they decided on the location where Fallingwater still stands today, and where it soon became one of the most famous houses in the country.

The forest surrounding Fallingwater has remained practically untouched since then, as the house can only be accessed by a footpath. The Bear Run river plays a huge role in Wright’s design.

Fallingwater stands two stories high and has beautiful cantilevered terraces. The heart of the house is its fireplace, located in the living room. Its windows extend vertically from one floor to the next and reflect light to prevent anyone from seeing inside.

The interior of Fallingwater.

On the opposite side of the house from the part which “flies” over the river, you’ll find pergolas which lead down to a stone incline and surrounding trees. This area is known as the “forest of the house”, and is one of the best demonstrations of Wright’s respect for the natural landscape.

Inside, you’ll find rooms which are unique in their shape, location and distribution. Cross the entrance hall and you’ll find yourself at the bottom of a staircase which leads up to the top floor, where the bedrooms, bathrooms and Edgar Kaufmann’s office are located. It also leads to the living room with a “music corner” and the “staircase of water”, which leads directly down to the stream below. The steps hang suspended from cables.


People say it took Wright only two hours to draw up the plans for Fallingwater. The owners were stunned, as they initially believed that the house would be built next to the river, rather than on it.

The house was constructed using natural materials taken from the surrounding forest, like rock, which was used to create the foundations and the lower part of the building. The rest of the facade is beige in color, contrasting with its surroundings, which are usually brown or green, depending on the season.

Another of the most noticeable features of Fallingwater is its octagonal shape and cantilevered walls. Wright built it to respect the surroundings, and although a large part of the house hangs over the river, it has amazingly withstood the test of time.

A pristine forest surrounds Fallingwater.

Wright’s engineers had serious doubts about the project. To strengthen the structure of the house, they added two metal plates. Because of this strong structure, it survived when a tornado struck the area not long after the house was built.

There’s no denying that Fallingwater is somewhere that every architecture – or nature – fan needs to visit. It remains intact 80 years after its construction and receives an impressive number of visitors every year.

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