What is Fallingwater?

A classic view of Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater

Fallingwater is a house designed in 1935 by American architect Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959). The house was designed as a private residence and weekend home for the family of Pittsburgh department store owner, Edgar J. Kaufmann, Sr. Fallingwater is one of Wright’s most widely acclaimed works and best exemplifies his philosophy of organic architecture: the harmonious union of art and nature.

It is located in the mountains of southwestern Pennsylvania, also known as the Laurel Highlands, in Mill Run, Pa. in Fayette County, about 70 miles east of Pittsburgh. Wright designed Fallingwater to rise above the waterfall over which it is built. Completed with a guest house and service wing in 1939, Fallingwater was constructed of native sandstone and other materials quarried from the property. Fallingwater was built by local craftsman from Fayette County.

The Kaufmann family, Edgar J. Kaufmann, Sr. (1885-1955), Liliane S. Kaufmann (1889-1952), and their son, Edgar Kaufmann, jr. (1910-1989), owned, lived in and used Fallingwater in various capacities during their lifetimes. In 1963, Edgar Kaufmann, jr. donated and entrusted Fallingwater and the surrounding 1,543 acres of natural land to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.

Today, Fallingwater is open to the public as a museum and is designated as a National Historic Landmark and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Treasure. The house was also named the “best all-time work of American architecture” in a poll of members of the American Institute of Architects. Since its public debut 82 years ago, more than five million visitors have toured and experienced Fallingwater.

Fallingwater is the only major Wright work to come into the public domain with its setting original furnishings and artwork intact.