WORLD HERITAGE PRESERVED
A Campaign for the Future of Fallingwater
"Weather is omnipresent and buildings must be left out in the rain."
- Frank Lloyd Wright, 1955
Frank Lloyd Wright designed Fallingwater for the Kaufmann family as a living structure – one so interposed with nature that the outside literally becomes part of the inside. Edgar Kaufmann, jr. once wrote: “In Fallingwater Wright captured the perfect essence of our desire to live with nature, to dwell in a forested place and be at home in the natural world.”
However, the effects of time and weather on the organic materials that meld the house to its landscape have caused major building systems to reach the end of their useful lives. To address these preservation needs and uphold our commitment to protect Fallingwater as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy has launched World Heritage Preserved: A Campaign for the Future of Fallingwater. This $3 million campaign will enable us to undertake the most urgent and immediate preservation projects of Fallingwater over the next five years.
Your support will allow us to undertake major
repairs to the following building systems:
Fallingwater’s stone walls were constructed by hand using Pottsville sandstone quarried from the site and laid in irregular patterns to mimic the natural formations found in the landscape. Seasonal expansion and contraction created by fluctuations in temperature cause hairline cracking in the mortar joints, allowing water to find its way inside the walls.
Wright used strong horizontals in Fallingwater’s design; however, nature has taken its toll and all roofing and roof roll waterproofing membranes need to be replaced. Priority areas include: Edgar Kaufmann jr.’s roof, the pottery terrace and master bedroom roof, the guest house roof and the servants’ quarters roof.
Fallingwater’s terraces carry the indoors to the outdoors; however, cracking mortar joints in the stonework and failures in the underlying waterproofing membranes let water seep inside.
Wright viewed reinforced concrete as a “plastic” material, one with limitless potential that could take any form. When constructed, Fallingwater was Wright’s most expansive use of reinforced concrete in a residential application, and he used the material to stretch conventional notions of building and living. Because Wright pushed the limits, Fallingwater’s reinforced concrete presents many preservation challenges today.
Wright relied on glass to integrate the house with nature. Steel frames were used to secure the glass in place, and have corroded in the humid environment. Repairs to the steel require rust remediation, steel replacement and installation of new sealants.
The cascading stepped canopy links the main house to the guest house. Its elaborate cantilevered construction is supported on only one side by steel supports. The stone steps underneath the canopy have shifted and heaved from freeze-thaw cycles and subsurface erosion over the years. This project will involve resetting and repointing these massive stone steps.
Kitchen and Basement Restoration
To better tell the service side of the Fallingwater story, the kitchen and basement will be restored to reflect their original appearance and use.
A network of copper pipes embedded in the concrete floors carry hot water from the furnace to the radiators, which are hidden behind the house’s builtin furniture. Over time, the pipes have deteriorated and sprung leaks, causing damage to woodwork and objects. The leaking pipes must be retrofitted to prevent future water damage.
Be a part of this legacy today.
Your support of this campaign could have even greater impact, as every dollar donated by private donors may be matched through a state grant fund that invests in regional economic, cultural, civic, recreational, and historical improvement projects.
Fallingwater is all of ours to conserve, to keep open as a public treasure, and to celebrate as one of the world’s greatest examples of art in nature, and nature made even more inspiring through art.
For more information about this effort, contact Julie Holmes, director of development, at 412-586-2312 or firstname.lastname@example.org.