Photo of Fallingwater during construction

Scaffold and formwork in place for the concrete pours of the cantilevers. 1936. Fallingwater Archives, Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, 2014.1.10.


Building Fallingwater recounts the construction of the main house from 1935 to 1937 through historic photographs. Thought to be taken by a photographer from Kaufmann’s Department Store, these images, many never before exhibited publicly, provide an extraordinary visual record of how Frank Lloyd Wright’s daring vision for a weekend house at Bear Run came into being.

The almost forty photographs selected for the exhibition are organized to follow the course of the house’s construction, beginning with the foundation bolsters and ending with the third floor. They reveal how the builders grew Fallingwater from the boulders of the site, fully integrating the house with its landscape and bringing Wright’s philosophy of organic architecture to life. Each image gives a rare glimpse into the methods used to lay the Pottsville sandstone walls, form and pour the reinforced concrete cantilevers, and install asphalt waterproofing on the flat roofs and terraces.

Providing additional context to the photographs are a selection of archival documents and blueprints, along with contemporary perspective drawings and floor plans by Ivan Chow, an architect and former Fallingwater Institute artist-in-residence. Segments from original 8mm home movies documenting the construction are also on view. This footage has been transferred to a digital format for the exhibition.

Fallingwater was hardly finished before its fame circled the globe, and the exhibition ends with a collection of original publications and facsimiles of newspaper clippings from late 1937 and 1938. These include the January 17, 1938, issue of Time, which featured Frank Lloyd Wright and Fallingwater on the cover; the January 1938 issue of The Architectural Forum, which was wholly devoted to Wright and prominently featured the house; and the January 1938 exhibition catalogue from a special exhibition of Fallingwater at the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Admission to Building Fallingwater is included with any grounds pass or guided tour. The exhibition will be on display through September.

Explore different facets of Fallingwater, Frank Lloyd Wright and the Kaufmann family in Fallingwater's Speyer Gallery. Funded, in part, by the Alexander C. & Tillie S. Speyer Foundation, the Speyer Gallery features an annual exhibition free to all Fallingwater visitors.

The Speyer Gallery is located in Fallingwater's Visitor Center and is currently open to visitors through December 31.