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Wright's Falling Water

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One of Wright's first apprentice's had been Edgard Kauffman Junior, One of Wright's first apprentice's had been Edgard Kauffman Junior, the son of a wealthy Pittsburgh department store owner. He hadn't stayed with architecture very long himself, but his father had become fascinated with Frank Lloyd Wright, and in 1934 asked him to design a weekend hideaway for his family, and in 1934 asked him to design a weekend hideaway for his family, next to their favourite waterfall, along a little stream in Western Pennsylvania, called Bear Run. Wright visited the site, had the apprentices make an elaborate plot plan that showed the location of every rock and tree and then did nothing, for three months. He never liked to draw until he knew what he was going to draw, and every so often we would ask Mr Wright “Are you gonna do something?” and he'd say “yes” and he would walk by. All of a sudden, one day, he gets a telephone call from Mr Kauffman. Kauffman was in Milwaukee, just a few hours away from Taliesin. Mr Wright says “Hello E. J. how are you?" Come along, we're waiting for you!” and he hang up. Milwaukee is 140 miles, 140 minutes, and he hasn't drawn a line. Kauffman, the client is on his way, and he sits down, and he starts to draw, and he draws a plan, and he draws a first floor plan, how it relates to everything, there's gotta be a bridge, so he can get across the water. It shows just where the waterfall is. He draws a second floor plan, and he goes along and shows how the balconies are, and he says, we'll have a bridge across, so that E. J. and Lilian, that was her name, can walk out and walk from the bedroom, south from the house and have a picnic up above. Then he says “top floor is Junior's room”. Then he draws what we call a section through the building. That's the way you can see how all the heights are. And he's drawing and drawing and Bob and I are feeding him pencils, he breaks them and puts a colour on, and takes it off and he rubs it all off and so on, and anytime anyone walks in the drafting room he turns around and he goes “shh, you go away”. And people knew that if Mr Wright's working you don't go through the drafting room. And then he starts to draws an elevation, a big elevation of the whole house. And the whole drawing is actually that big, normally we start as a scale where you draw this big, but no, he's got it going this big. And he's putting the trees, and he knows where every damn tree is, where every rock is. He gets that all done, and then just as Mr Wright's secretary comes in and he says “Mr Wright, Mr Kauffman's here” he says “Bring him in”. And Mr Wright gets up and he just stands up, and he walks toward Kauffman, he puts out his hand and he says, “Welcome E. J., we've been waiting for you”. Wright named his building “Falling Water”. It would eventually become the most famous modern house in the world, and he had drawn it all in less than three hours. Wright asked this client “Where do you spend the all your time when you are on this property?” and they said “Oh, we love to picnic on this rock”. So what does he do? He build the house on the rock and they've lost their picnic place forever. And you can hardly see the rock, you have to go down in the stream, and the bugs eat you alive and all that, to look up and see Mr Wright's masterpiece. And indeed it was. I think Falling Water is many things, it's beautiful response to its site, most of all. Instead of standing clear on a grass plain, it's coming out of a rock. It's slabs her anchor in the rock, you go behind Falling Water, you see they're gripping the rock back there and then you just out there and it's just barely above the waterfall, and the water is just on you. You feel that you are in danger there that you are in fact in a kind of suspension in space, where you have to be careful. And the water is always moving on you with that sense of uneasiness, as it goes. It's an extraordinary house, these floating planes over the waterfall, the structural drama, the spatial drama and the incredible serenity of it all. It's a composition. It's an intricate and perfect composition, into which we're invited to walk, and if your name was Kauffman, live. It's as if he was saying, “Ok, Europeans, you wanna do it that way, I'll show you how to do it that way”. And then he takes some of their ideas, integrates it with all of his ideas, and comes out with something so much more brilliant and beautiful than anybody else has ever done. He was trying to prove to the rest of us that he too could use flat roofs, he always hated flat roofs, but you see when he caught on a hot over something on this flat roof, “I'll show them”. And he did, I mean, he could make even a 50 by 50 room, which is large look high when it's only eight feet high. Don't ask me how, because if I could do it, I would. Great architecture, like any kind of great art, ultimately, takes you somewhere words cannot take you, at all and Falling Water does that, the way Chartres Cathedral does that. There is some experience that gets you in your gut, and you just feel it, and you can't quite even say it. My whole life is dealing with architecture and words, and at the end of the day there is something I can't entirely say, when it comes to what Falling Water feels like. I remember the first time I went to Falling Water, taking a long walk down, looking at it from across the water fall, and you just wanted to sing, just like that, you just wanted to start singing some song, there was nothing really to say, it was so extraordinary. subtitled by Rodrigo Garcia Garay - POA 2010

Video Details

Duration: 7 minutes and 29 seconds
Country: Brazil
Language: English
Views: 318
Posted by: rodrighegg on Jul 18, 2010

Documentary on Frank Lloyd Wright's Falling Water

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