Fallingwater history; it was designed in 1935 for Pittsburgh department store owner Edgar Kaufmann Sr. and was used as a mountain retreat by his family. (Wright, 279) The Kaufmannsbecame acquainted with the Conservancy when they were involved with the early acquisition of Ferncliff Peninsula, later to become the cornerstone of Ohiopyle State Park. Initially, the Kauffmanns assumedthe idea of Wright designing a house that would overlook the waterfall. Wright askes dor a survey of the area around the waterfall, which was performed by Fayette Engineering Company of Uniontown,Pennsylvania and included all of the boulders, trees and topography. They were unprepared to hear Wright’s suggestion to build a house positioned over a waterfall. At the time of its construction, thestructure cost $155,000. (Wright, 309-312)
At the time Fallingwater was being designed and built steel reinforced concrete was a new material and very little expertise concerning its use wasavailable. Wright famously got into an argument with his steel designer over how much rebar to use, feeling that the amount spec’d was too heavy. (Wright, 324) The steel setter ultimately went ahead and usedmore than Wright wanted which ended up being the correct call, though it turned out to be insufficient and over time the cantilevered decks were slowly sagging. Temporary steel supports were put intoplace while rehabilitative work was done on the structure. Once the rehab work was completed the temporary supports were removed and now the building stands as it did originally with fullycantilevered decks jutting out over Bear Run. (Wright, 340)
Edgar Kaufmann Sr. was a successful Pittsburgh businessman and founder of Kaufmann's Department Store. His son, Edgar Kaufmann, Jr., studiedarchitecture under Wright briefly. The Kaufmanns owned some property outside Pittsburgh with a waterfall and some cabins. When the cabins at their camp had deteriorated to the point that something had to be...
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