A living breathing house in perfect harmony with its enviroment, Fallingwater is recognized today as Frank Lloyd Wright’s brilliant work and the last great Wright house with its settings, original furnishing and artwork intact.
All started with Edgar Kaufmann, Sr. He was the patriarch of a Pittsburgh family, known for their distintive sense of style and good taste. Edgar and his wife, Liliane, traveled in international circles and sought out their company of artist, architects and other creative souls throughout their lives.
Their only child, Edgar Kaufmann jr. was also a sensitive and artistic man who would become the person who moved his father’s relationship with Frank Lloyd Wright..
It was during a visit with their son at Taliesin, where was working Edgar, jr., when Edgar, Sr. and Liliane first met Wright in person.
The partnership between patron and architect was a productive one, built on mutual respect and a common love based on new ideas and dreaming in break borderlines.
It is no a secret that the viability of Wright’s structure design for Fallingwater was called into questions since the first stone was ever laid. When Edgar Kauffman started to distrust about the structural calculation, he decided to show the plants project to the engineers team. They said to Mr. Kaufmann that the design require additional support. Therefore, in secret, he ordered to increase the steal in several structures.
As soon as Frank Lloyd Wright know the changes in his design, he lost his nerves and throw out the works manager. After that, he held a discussion with Mr. Kaufmann and said his infamous reply
“…if I don’t have your confidence….to hell with the whole thing”.
In fact, the workers were very scared thinking in the moment to take off the scaffold, because they believed that the house going to come down.
In any case, Kaufmann rightly believed in the importance of Wright’s vision. Through letters they would engage in heated discussions about design details, commission fees and other issues.
Thanks to the engineer’s decission to improve the steal, the cantilevers didn’t colapse and nowadays it “only” shows a 20 cm. flexion.
Maintaining the appearance, integrity and appeal of Fallingwater to over one hundred thousand visitors a year is no small task; it is the result of a never-ending effort that involves experts, artists, laborers and generous supporters.
Before the 1980s, the majority of the preservation projects undertaken at the site primarily repainting of concrete surfaces.
Beginning with the installation of new roofs in 1981, recent preservation project have focused on more long term goals, such as augmenting the structural system. Also waterproofing the entire house, replacing original glass to help conserve Fallingwater’s interior woodwork and collections.
From 2001 to 2003, huge structural and architectural repairs were made, including the reinforcement of the living room cantilevers, the installation of a waterproofing system and the cleaning and repointing of all exteriors stonewalls.