Monday, September 9, 2013

Frank Lloyd Wright Houses

Falling Water--this gives you a feel of how much the house was a part of the landscape
or Vacation, Day 2

Unlike the first day of my family's recent vacation, the second day had a definite agenda. We visited two houses designed by famed architect, Frank Lloyd Wright--Falling Water and Kentuck Knob, both of which are located in the Allegheny Mountains of Pennsylvania. Falling Water is perhaps Wright's most famous home because of its cascading and cantilevering design over a waterfall.  Kentuck Knob was a more modest home built into a hillside. Wright liked to be one with nature in both design and materials and these two homes were prime examples of this.

Kentuck Knob was built for the Hagan Family in 1956 and they lived in it the next thirty years. It was one of Wright's Usonian homes and was similar in many ways to the Pope-Leighy house we had seen earlier. It was one of last houses Wright built at age 86 and he said it was so easy for him that "he could shake it out of his sleeve." (If half of the stories are true, Wright did not lack in self confidence.)  As was typical with Wright's designs, there were repeating geometrical themes throughout along with cantilevering. Also, there was a blending of the indoors and out-of-doors by incorporating large windows and in situ boulders into the construction.  The house is now owned by an Lord Palumbo of England and was opened up for tours in 1996. Palumbo added a sculpture meadow to the grounds.

Falling Water was built for the Kaufman family and was the house the Hagans had seen when they asked Wright to design a house for them. The Kaufmans used it as summer home until the mid-1960's when it was given to a trust. Falling Water was amazing with multiple levels, many terraces, and various bodies of water incorporated into the design. The design was complex and was truly an architectural feat.

Besides Wright's affinity for creations in harmony with nature, there were some other interesting aspects to his designs. If an area was not used for living, say just for passing through such as a hallway, he devoted very little space to it. Even in the large Falling Water house, some hallways were only 19" wide. Also, Wright did not believe in garages, attics, or basements. He said they just encouraged clutter. He said that if someone has a space, they will fill it. Now that gave me some food for thought.

We had a great day touring Frank Lloyd Wright's houses. The weather was perfect and spending time in his mountain retreats was very calming. I would recommend a visit if you are ever in the area.

 Below are a few of the several pictures we took. Unfortunately, many of parts of the houses were in dappled shade which was not great for making out details. And of course, no pictures were allowed inside.

Kentuck Knob--The house was built from the local Pottstville sandstone. Wright was fond of these repeating and reverse patterned windows.

Kentuck Knob--Windows over one of the terraces. An example of the repeating hexagonal pattern that was throughout the house.

Kentuck Knob--One of the minimalist carports instead of an enclosed garage.

Kentuck Knob--One of the sculptures that Lord Palumbo added to the grounds. All of the sculptures were modern art and this is one of the few we understood.

Falling Water--You can see parts of the house cantilevering over the waterfall.

Falling Water--On the far right of the picture you can see a plunge pool. At the time, it was in fashion to take a plunge into the cold mountain water to invigorate yourself.