What is Fallingwater?
Fallingwater is a house designed in 1935 by renowned American architect Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959) for the Kaufmann family, owners of Pittsburgh’s largest department store. Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater is one of his most widely acclaimed works and best exemplifies his philosophy of organic architecture: the harmonious union of art and nature.
Fallingwater is located in the mountains of Southwestern Pennsylvania, also known as the Laurel Highlands, in Mill Run, Fayette County, which is about 70 miles southeast of Pittsburgh. Wright designed Fallingwater to rise above the waterfall over which it is built. Local craftsmen quarried native sandstone and other materials from the property and completed the construction of the main house, guest house and service wing in 1939.
The Kaufmann family—Edgar J. Kaufmann, Sr. (1885-1955), Liliane S. Kaufmann (1889-1952), and their son, Edgar Kaufmann jr. (1910-1989)—used Fallingwater as a vacation house during their lifetimes. In 1963, Edgar Kaufmann jr. donated and entrusted Fallingwater and the surrounding 469 acres of natural land to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy., a nonprofit conservation organization established in 1932.
Fallingwater is owned and operated by the Conservancy and open to the public to tour as a museum. Fallingwater is surrounded by 5,100 acres of natural land, streams and trails known as the Bear Run Nature Reserve. On July 10, 2019, UNESCO inscribed Fallingwater and seven other Frank Lloyd Wright-designed buildings to the World Heritage List. In addition, Fallingwater is designated as a National Historic Landmark and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Treasure, and named the “best all-time work of American architecture” in a poll of members of the American Institute of Architects. Since the first public tours began in 1964, Fallingwater has welcomed more than six million visitors from across the globe. Travel+Leisure Magazine stated that Fallingwater is “one of the 12 landmarks that will change the way you see the world.”
Fallingwater is the only major Wright work to come into the public domain with its setting, artwork and original Wright-designed furnishings intact.