June 8: Frank Lloyd Wright

FrankLloydWrightFrank Lloyd Wright, perhaps America’s most influential architect, was born on this day in 1867. Amongst his most notable buildings were Chicago’s Robie House, Los Angeles’ Hollyhock House and Ennis House, New York’s Guggenheim Museum and Tokyo’s Imperial Hotel. However, his most famous creation is probably the house known as Fallingwater.

Located in Mill Run, Pennsylvania, Fallingwater is a modern architectural marvel and one of the most photographed homes in the world. In 1934, Pittsburgh businessman Edgar Kaufmann Sr. hired Wright to design a new weekend home for his family at the Bear Run waterfall in Mill Run. Kaufmann wanted the house to sit at the base of the falls, so he and his family could enjoy a nice view of the cascades. Wright had other ideas, namely after checking out the site he decided that the house should actually sit atop the waterfall. Kaufmann was not pleased with Wright’s plan, but eventually came around to the master architect’s idea.

As Fallingwater is built in a natural environment, Wright wisely attempted to design the house to reflect its surroundings. The house’s concrete is painted in earth tones and its modern angles are accentuated by stone work. In fact, Wright integrated boulders from the falls into the hearth of the building’s fireplace. Stone was also used in the floors of Fallingwater.

Edgar Kaufmann Jr., who was a student of Wright’s, would later comment on the cave like nature of Fallingwater: “He [Wright] understood that people were creatures of nature, hence an architecture which conformed to nature would conform to what was basic in people. For example, although all of Falling Water [sic] is opened by broad bands of windows, people inside are sheltered as in a deep cave, secure in the sense of the hill behind them.” The Kaufmann family would own the home until 1963 when Kaufmann, Jr. donated the property to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. It opened to the public as a museum a year later.

There is a cocktail called Falling Water which is a clear mix of vodka and lemon-lime soda. However, a long cucumber slice adds a nice architectural touch worthy of Wright.

Falling Water

  • 1 1/2 ounces Vodka
  • lemon-lime soda

Pour vodka into an ice filled highball glass. Fill to the top with lemon lime soda. Stir and garnish with a long cucumber slice.

Tomorrow: The fall of a Nation.

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