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What's So Great About Falling Water?

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Most of us have heard stories about how millions have been spent trying to preserve Falling Water, Frank Lloyd Wright's so-called masterpiece in Southwestern Pennsylvania, and how building science was pretty much ignored and the consequences of that negligence have shown up time and again. From the WSJ, here's someone else's take on the lessons of Fallingwater.



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I've been to Fallingwater several times. It is both a work of genius, and a total disaster. I've come to dislike the building for many tightly held reasons, none of which have to do with how it looks.

The only thing I know for sure......

Do not disregard water when building. Wright was operating on the common thought that nature was something to be both enjoyed and revered, but not taken seriously as any impediment to what man wants to do.

The house would have been much better suited to the site Kauffman Sr. wanted, that is, across the creek, and looking at the waterfall.

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Just about every one of his 'masterpieces' displays similar disregard to building science. Greycliff, about 20 minutes from here, is in the home stretch of the second multi million dollar phase of restoration/preservation, another phase and several tens of million more are needed to complete it. I recall reading, many years ago, about a house in Illinois that needed structural repair and rework all the way to it's footings, a filtch beam to keep the second floor from falling in, as well as reworking a barrel vault from the top side to preserve the plaster fresco below.

His aesthetic is particularly stunning, his structural design prowess not so much.

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The original cantilever beams were not even steel; they were redwood, cast into the concrete. Oops.......

When I saw it the first time, in about 1975, the thing was sagging so badly it was literally droopy looking. And, it was only about 40 years old at the time.

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