Falling Water: https://fallingwater.org/
Ohiopyle State Park: https://www.dcnr.pa.gov/StateParks/FindAPark/OhiopyleStatePark/Pages/default.aspx
Falling Water is a classic house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. The number of times this house alone is mentioned in a school setting makes it one of the top buildings on any architects travel list. I probably would never have considered a visit if I hadn’t been inundated with the praises and wonders of Frank Lloyd Wright from the minute I looked to Architecture as a possible career path.
I had my reservations about this design. As much as anyone can sing its praises I wasn’t convinced. I am very glad that a friend of mine organized and invited me along to explore Falling Water and the towns and roads along the way.
Ultimately I left liking the design. Not everything is perfect. It has a fair number of failures built in such as the odd arrangement of patios to windows. I mean who puts a master suite patio directly adjacent to a guest room where the guest room window has full view of the patio? No screens, no plantings, just full unrestricted view to a supposedly private space as master suites and attachments usually are. Then there are odd details which are lovely but probably not so good for the building. The front entry, inside the building, has a nautral rock, kept in place, with a spring that occasionally spills inside. This spring or rainwater overflow is not restricted but just trickles and puddles in the interior. If water is seeping in this way I don’t want to think about how water is entering the rest of the buildig and structure at all the other natural/existing connection points.
But there are also lovely details. The corner windows which all open up the entire side of the building allowing the owners to control airflow. The acoustic control of the waterfall sounds being more screened in some places, less in others, and being able to augment it through windows. The tidy details of stairs and ramp covers that by design mimic waterfalls during heavier rains which I find so enthralling and really wish I had seen in action.
Overall, there are many things to learn from a visit to Falling Water. Even if you leave less than impressed with the building the drive to and from it is stunning, the nearby town of Ohiopyle has a wonderful park and falls that are very fun to explore, and ultimately Pittsburgh isn’t too much further away. There is something for everyone around there, I’d be surprised if anyone could leave the area completely annoyed at a loss of time.
After a wonderful day exploring both architecture and landscape, the Ohiopyle State Park has many fossils, trails, and fun falls!, we hit the road again. Purely by chance we stayed the night in a town just outside the Flight 93 Memorial. It hadn’t been on our list of visits for this trip but since we were there we decided to check it out. The site is massive and the memorial comes up unexpectedly. We happened to be there on a very cold and rainy day so limited our explorations considerably. I think a stop in the visitor center is absolutely necessary to fully understand each element of the design. Some of the details escape you if you aren’t told their significance. For example there are 40 memorial groves in half the circle’s design. When driving past them it is unclear that there are 40 separate but connected groves and rather looks like a semicircle of very young trees, probably for aesthetics or to construct a view. While missing this detail isn’t likely to ruin the memorial experience I think it would make a stronger impact to know and see. To appreciate every detail of honoring the lives of those lost.
Finally our last stop was in Amish Country just outside Philadelphia. Sadly we came in on a Sunday and most everything was closed. We did however see many horses and buggies going about. Farm country is just beautiful to be around.
Altogether a lovely trip with many surprises and wonderful learning moments! I highly recommend the trip with good friends and an open mind.