Iconic House - Fallingwater House by Frank Lloyd Wright / Edgar J. Kaufmann House
Fallingwater House Exterior View | © Robert P. Ruschak

Completed in 1938, Fallingwater, designed by the American architect Frank Lloyd Wright, is a timeless masterpiece of organic architecture. Commissioned by the Kaufmann family in 1935 as a summer retreat, the house is perched over Bear Run, a picturesque site near Pittsburgh. Its design seamlessly integrates with the surrounding landscape, incorporating a waterfall to enhance Wright’s vision of organic architecture. The house seems to float above the cascading waters, creating a dramatic yet elegant dwelling that inspires architects and designers worldwide.

Fallingwater House Technical Information

The architect must be a prophet … if he can’t see at least 10 years ahead, don’t call him an architect.

– Frank Lloyd Wright

Fallingwater House Photographs

Stairs and Water relation in the Front View Fallingwater House by Frank Lloyd Wright / Edgar J. Kaufmann House
Fallingwater House River | © Nick Stanley
Stairs - Fallingwater House by Frank Lloyd Wright / Edgar J. Kaufmann House
Fallingwater House Stairs | © Timothy Neesam
© Via Tsuji
Entrance Approach to the house
Fallingwater House Landscape | © Jessica
Aerial View of the Fallingwater House by Frank Lloyd Wright / Edgar J. Kaufmann House
Fallingwater House Aerial View | © Wally Gobetz
Interior of the House
© Christopher Little
Living Room
© Wally Gobetz
Fireplace - Fallingwater House
Fallingwater House Chimney | © Jon Fisher

The Iconic Fallingwater House: A Piece of Architecture History

The house was commissioned by Pittsburgh department store magnate Edgar J. Kaufmann and his wife, Liliane, as a weekend retreat located in Mill Run, Pennsylvania. Impressed by Wright’s work after visiting their son at Taliesin, an architectural school designed and run by Wright in Wisconsin, the Kaufmann’s asked the architect to design their country escape.

Fallingwater is widely recognized for its bold design that seamlessly integrates with the surrounding landscape and waterfall. The house features low ceilings, built-in furnishings, and a central hearth that gives a sense of shelter and refuge, embodying Wright’s “organic architecture.”

Wright’s illustrations of the house, seen from a slightly skewed perspective, are equally iconic. The design showcases his appreciation of Japanese culture and art, specifically the works of Katsushika Hokusai, as elements of the drawing break through the borders, a stylistic device often used by Hokusai. Wright was a collector and dealer of Japanese woodblock prints, and his influence can be seen in his design and aesthetics.

Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature — it will never fail you.

— Frank Lloyd Wright

Since Wright had suffered from a lack of work during the Great Depression, which halted many architectural endeavors, landing such a hefty commission helped put him back on the map as a top architect. Wright completed construction on the 5,330-square-foot (495-square-meter) main house by 1938 and finished building the 1,700-square-foot (158-square-meter) guest house the following year. After this late-career triumph, the sixty-seven-year-old would go on to create a series of highly original designs that would validate his claim as “The world’s greatest architect.”

The home remained a private residence of the family until 1963, when the son, Edgar Jr., gave the deed to Fallingwater and the surrounding 1,500 acres (607 hectares) to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, dedicating the property as the ‘Kaufmann Conservation on Bear Run, a Memorial to Edgar J. and Liliane S. Kaufmann.’ Fallingwater first opened its doors in 1964 for public tours.

Since then, many entities have recognized the importance of Fallingwater’s artistry. In the late 1970s, the U.S. Department of the Interior designated the museum a National Historic Landmark. In 2019, UNESCO added Fallingwater (and seven other Frank Lloyd Wright-designed sites) to its list of World Heritage Sites, marking an impressive international recognition of its architectural legacy.

In addition to Fallingwater, The Robie House is widely considered a masterpiece of Frank Lloyd Wright’s residential architecture.

The Fallingwater House Plans by Frank Lloyd Wright

Roof Level Fallingwater House by Frank Lloyd Wright
Drawn by: John Frisch, Eric Jenior & Sara Vandenbark
Second Level - Fallingwater House by Frank Lloyd Wright
Fallingwater House Drawn by: John Frisch, Eric Jenior & Sara Vandenbark
First Level - Fallingwater House by Frank Lloyd Wright
Drawn by: John Frisch, Eric Jenior & Sara Vandenbark
Basement Level - Fallingwater House by Frank Lloyd Wright
Drawn by: John Frisch, Eric Jenior & Sara Vandenbark
Elevation Fallingwater House by Frank Lloyd Wright
Drawn by: John Frisch, Eric Jenior & Sara Vandenbark

Frank Lloyd Wright: A Pioneering American Architect and Educator

Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959) was a visionary American architect, designer, writer, and educator who left an indelible mark on the architectural world. Throughout his 70-year career, he designed over 1,000 structures, each exemplifying his philosophy of organic architecture, which emphasizes harmony between humanity and the environment. Wright’s contributions to 20th-century architecture have inspired countless architects worldwide, cementing his legacy as a pioneer of modern architecture.

Full Bio | Works from Frank Lloyd Wright 

  1. Historic American Buildings Survey, C., Wright, F. L., Kaufmann, E. J., Kaufmann, L. S., Lipchitz, J., Kent State University, S. […] Zuber, N., Boucher, J. E., photographer. (1933) Fallingwater, State Route 381 Stewart Township, Ohiopyle, Fayette County, PA. Pennsylvania Ohiopyle Fayette County, 1933. Documentation Compiled After. [Photograph] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/pa1690/.
  2. Fallingwater (Rizzoli Classics) by Lynda Waggoner  (Editor), Christopher Little (Photographer)