We hope this guide will provide you with information and inspiration for creating classroom activities about Fallingwater.
Inside, you’ll find plenty of information on Fallingwater and some suggested classroom activities as inspiration for developing your own.
Getting Comfortable with Architecture
Architecture is the one art form that we interact with every day as we live, work, and play. Yet we seldom consciously think about architecture, and few of us have even the slightest training in this field. We may look at it all the time, but we don’t really see it.
A Sense of Space: Describing an Experience with Architecture
This exercise is a perfect introduction to Fallingwater, or to any architectural discussion. It focuses attention on sensory experience and helps students observe and document their observations. It is a quiet, contemplative activity; it is also a powerful and memorable exercise.
How Does This Space Make You Feel? Analyzing Architectural Space
This is good exercise to move students’ understanding from what they have experienced to understanding how that experience was shaped. It is sometimes easier for the students to understand this assignment by first practicing it as a group.
A Country House for City People: The Story of Fallingwater
Fallingwater became famous even before it was finished and its fame has increased decade by decade. This is because the house in its setting embodies a powerful ideal - that people today can learn to live in harmony with nature.
Background on Fallingwater
Fallingwater is recognized as one of Frank Lloyd Wright's most acclaimed works. In a 1991 poll of members of the American Institute of Architects, it was voted "the best all-time work of American architecture." It is a supreme example of Wright's concept of organic architecture, which promotes harmony between people and nature through design so well integrated with its site that buildings, furnishings, and surroundings become part of a unified, interrelated composition.
The Story of Fallingwater
Based on the Original Café Exhibition by Edgar Kaufmann, jr. and Donald Hoffman
Bear Run, the name given to the stream that flows beneath Fallingwater, once supported a small mountain community typical of small settlements in the Laurel Highlands region of western
The Family and the Architect
In 1916, Kaufmann's Department Stores of Pittsburgh needed a place where women employees could enjoy a healthy and inexpensive vacation. The acreage on Bear Run, already developed by the Masons for similar use, was rented...
When Wright first visited the Bear Run property, he was shown areas suitable for a new house, including the falls with its several cascades and large, smooth rock surface for basking. The dynamic rush of the stream, the thrusting ledges, and the break in the terrain with abruptly disjointed levels of trees and plants impressed him.
How Fallingwater Came to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy
Entrusting the conservation and preservation of an architectural masterpiece to a nature organization may seem unusual, but the mission of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy to enrich the human relationship with the natural world embodies the same goals Frank Lloyd Wright had for his architecture.
The Kaufmann Family
The Edgar J. Kaufmann family of Pittsburgh were more than the department store owners who commissioned a masterpiece from Frank Lloyd Wright. Edgar Kaufmann, Sr., his wife Liliane, and their son, Edgar Kaufmann, jr. [sic] were unique individuals, each committed to the ideals of living in harmony with nature, and of the value that good design brings to everyday life.
Concrete, Steel, and Stone: The Structure and Materials of Fallingwater
Fallingwater remains famous largely because of its structure. Wright’s use of the then unusual cantilever construction allowed him to place the house so memorably above a waterfall. Without
cantilever construction, Fallingwater simply wouldn’t exist!
The Nuts and Bolts of Architecture
Fallingwater tours discuss the story of the house, how the family enjoyed it, what Frank Lloyd Wright intended with his architecture at Fallingwater, and how the structure works. Tours are general in scope, but there are some architectural terms that are used to explain the house.
Background on Fallingwater’s Structure
The cantilever is the basis for Fallingwater's structure. Three horizontal trays made of reinforced concrete form the three levels of the house, echoing the natural rock ledges beneath the house that jut out over Bear Run. Think of a diving board...
Frank Lloyd Wright, American Architect
Frank Lloyd Wright turned the American house into an art form expressive of the freedom so important to Americans, through integrating our daily lives with the natural world in which we live. Wright devoted his career to defining an architectural form that was uniquely American – an architecture that particularly responded to the new American democracy.
The Wright Way of Building
This is a visual introduction to Frank Lloyd Wright’s career, using 18 of his most notable buildings.
For each building there is a photographic view and a floor plan. Distribute these cards among the students and have them match up the floor plan with its respective building view.
The Wright Words – and More!
Frank Lloyd Wright wrote volumes on his own architecture. The best current
source for Wright’s writings is a 5-voume compilation, Frank Lloyd Wright
Collected Writings, edited by Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer. You’ll find great ideas for
essay topics, discussion points, or bring them along when you visit.
Background on Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959)
Frank Lloyd Wright spent more than 70 years creating designs that revolutionized the art and architecture of the 20th century. Many innovations in today’s buildings are products of his imagination.
Wright and the Kaufmanns
Members of the Kaufmann family were patrons and personal friends of Frank Lloyd Wright’s; they supported his work for 25 years through architectural commissions, gifts, and legal assistance. Of the roughly one dozen projects the family commissioned from Wright from 1934 to his death, only 3 – Fallingwater, its guest house, and Edgar Kaufmann’s private office in the department store – were realized.