We’ve featured a variety of buildings designed by Frank Lloyd Wright here on Open Culture, from his personal home and studio Taliesin and the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, to a gas station and a doghouse. But if any single structure explains his enduring reputation as a genius of American architecture, and perhaps the genius of American architecture, it must be the house called Fallingwater.
Designed in 1935 for Pittsburgh department-store magnate Edgar J. Kaufmann and his wife Liliane, it sits atop an active waterfall — not below it as Kaufmann had originally requested, to name just one of the disagreements that arose between client and architect throughout the process.
In the event, Wright had his way as far as the positioning of the house on the site, as with much else about the project — and so much the better for its stature in the history of architecture, which has only risen since completion 85 years ago.
Inspired by the Kaufmann’s love of the outdoors, as well as his own appreciation for Japanese architecture, Wright employed techniques to integrate Fallingwater’s spaces with one another, as well as with the surrounding nature. Time magazine wasted no time, as it were, declaring the result Wright’s “most beautiful job”; more recently, it’s received high praise from no less a master Japanese architect than Tadao Ando.