Frank Lloyd Wright’s Southwestern Pennsylvania: The Fallingwater Projects

Exhibitions at the Speyer Gallery

Available through December 31, 2024

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Southwestern Pennsylvania—The Fallingwater Projects is a journey into the famed architect’s mind. Presenting unrealized projects Wright designed for the Fallingwater site from the 1930s through the 1950s, this exhibition examines how his vision might have impacted the surrounding rural landscape.

In all, Edgar Kaufmann, Sr. and Wright worked on thirteen projects for the Bear Run area and for downtown Pittsburgh, and their interplay was well documented in the Carnegie Museum of Art’s 1999 exhibition Merchant Prince and Master Builder. There, the architect’s drawings were assembled into a broader understanding of his impact, leaving viewers to ask, “What if they had been built?”

Building upon this earlier two-dimensional study, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Southwestern Pennsylvania—The Fallingwater Projects uses new technology to transform our understanding of them and helps usher Wright into the minds of twenty-first century audiences.

Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959), architect. Prospective View of front, project, Farm Cottage “Bear Run” for Mr. E. J. Kaufmann, ca. 1937. The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Archives (The Museum of Modern Art | Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University, New York), 3711.02.
Skyline Ink Animators + Illustrators, designers. Project for Farm Cottage, “Bear Run,” for Mr. E. J. Kaufmann, digital illustration, 2023. Based on an unrealized design by Frank Lloyd Wright [1941]. This animation was created by permission of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, all rights reserved.

Bear Run Farm Cottage (1941)

A cottage for the Kaufmann family’s dairy farm caretaker was named “Bear Run,” an homage to the nearby stream. Designed in 1941, it was to have been built near an existing 1871 farmstead property purchased by Edgar Kaufmann, Sr. in 1940.

Charged with the enormous task of bringing Wright’s design to life, architect-artist Brian Eyerman of Skyline Ink Animators + Illustrators, an Oklahoma City based studio, meticulously researched each project to create historically accurate videos. Compared to the more developed plans for Fallingwater and its guest house (whose drawing set totals nearly 200 architectural drawings), three of the four projects on view here are less so, with each represented by less than ten sheets.

For the Skyline Ink team, this meant interpreting Wright’s plans and renderings, often picking up on visual cues and handwritten notes by him to learn of a project’s materials, finishes, and furnishings. “There certainly is some artistic license to be had when you don’t have the original architect handy to answer questions,” explains Eyerman. “For some details, we would look at the project’s place within Wright’s larger body of work to study how he was designing his buildings at the time, and therefore how he would detail and furnish them.”

Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959), architect. Bird’s-eye view from road, project, Gate Lodge “Fallingwater” for Mr. E. J. Kaufmann, ca. 1937. The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Archives (The Museum of Modern Art | Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University, New York), 3713.005.
Skyline Ink Animators + Illustrators, designers. Project for Gate Lodge, “Fallingwater,” for Mr. E.J. Kaufmann, digital illustration, 2023. Based on an unrealized design by Frank Lloyd Wright [1937]. This animation was created by permission of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, all rights reserved.

Fallingwater Gate Lodge (1941)

Intended for support staff at the Fallingwater site, Frank Lloyd Wright’s gate lodge was to be located upstream from Fallingwater, near a small bridge that crossed Bear Run. It was a low-roofed, three-bedroom design intended for a caretaker with a family.

Considering the “What If?” notions, each animation brings to life the architectural form in three dimensions, but also sets it within a landscape near to the Bear Run site, incorporating variations of seasons, daylight and perspective viewpoints. As Fallingwater exemplifies the qualities of organic architecture—the harmonious union of art and nature—so do the smaller, more functional structures Wright designed for the Kaufmanns.

Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959), architect. Perspective view of rear, project, “Rhododendron Chapel,” house for Mr. E. J. Kaufmann, 08 June 1952. John H. Howe Collection, State Historical Society of Wisconsin.
Skyline Ink Animators + Illustrators, designers. Project for Rhododendron Chapel for Mr. E. J. Kaufmann, digital illustration, 2023. Based on an unrealized design by Frank Lloyd Wright [1952]. This animation was created by permission of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, all rights reserved

Rhododendron Chapel (1952)

In a letter to Frank Lloyd Wright dated September 2, 1951, Edgar Kaufmann jr. sought another commission for the Kaufmann family, a “place of prayer at Bear Run,” and one that would “balance our city living.”

Pairing up reproductions of Wright’s hand-drawn renderings with their companion animations, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Southwestern Pennsylvania—The Fallingwater Projects includes three commissions by Edgar Kaufmann, Sr. for a gate lodge, a farm cottage and a private chapel, as well as a later commission by Edgar Kaufmann jr. for a cluster of gate lodge buildings—all intended to be set upon unspecified locations.

Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959), architect. Perspective view from approach road, project, Gate Lodge for Edgar J. Kaufmann jr., 1956. The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Archives (The Museum of Modern Art | Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University, New York), 5715.001
Skyline Ink Animators + Illustrators, designers. Project, Gate Lodge for Edgar J. Kaufmann jr., digital illustration, 2023. Based on an unrealized design by Frank Lloyd Wright [1956]. This animation was created by permission of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, all rights reserved.

Fallingwater Gate Lodge (1956)

In 1956, soon after his parents’ deaths, Edgar Kaufmann jr. asked Frank Lloyd Wright to design a gate lodge for Fallingwater, one that would provide a similar function to that of the plan commissioned by his father fifteen years earlier.

This collection of projects intended for Fallingwater is part of a larger exhibition, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Southwestern Pennsylvania, on view at the Westmoreland Museum of American Art in Greensburg, Pennsylvania through January 14, 2024. In addition to the projects here, Wright’s post-World War II urban designs for Pittsburgh are shown in a room-size animation theater space. Kaufmann’s office and Kentuck Knob, the house for Isaac newton and Bernardine Hagan, are also featured in historic photographs and drawings.


Frank Lloyd Wright’s Southwestern Pennsylvania—The Fallingwater Projects is supported in part by the generosity of the Speyer Family Foundation and Wendy and David Barensfeld.


Exhibitions at the Speyer Gallery are available exclusively to those who purchase Fallingwater tours.