The Beautiful Wife and I went west this past weekend with a couple of friends to tour Frank Lloyd Wright houses. Since Fallingwater is only a few hours away, we’ve visited it many times over the years. It’s such a perfect jewel of a house. The American Institute of Architects named the house “the best all-time work of American Architecture.” TBW and I are shown below at the money shot for Fallingwater.
Every time I visit Fallingwater, another aspect of the design shines out to me. This time the flagstone floors amazed me. Somehow I felt like I was walking barefoot in a a stream.
As I studied the construction sequence of the house, I learned Frank Lloyd Wright wasn’t on site much. Most of the real decisions, then, were made by the contractors, material suppliers and the young on-site architect who worked for Wright. I can imagine this team working through challenging details, trying to get to the best, reasonable solution.
Our teams often work that way on projects and it’s the most rewarding aspect of building. Yet we all need to bring more than just our own specific expertise to get to great solutions. We all should bring a context of beauty and excellence. We get that context by seeing it in other places.That’s why I take time to visit beautiful buildings and bridges and encourage you to do the same.
The Kentuck Knob house that Wright designed a few miles down the road from Fallingwater also stirs me. Wright wanted to change the way Americans live. He hated that people lived in ugly boxes. He wanted intentional living with an appreciation of things beautiful. He designed houses where nature seemed to flow into the living space. These Usonian houses were small, open and inspiring.The photo below shows the Kentuck Knob carport (Wright never designed garages or basements because he hated clutter) with wood cut-out windows that he called “Poor man’s stained glass”.
The outdoor spaces are as amazing as the interiors. I especially liked “Bernardine’s reading room” shown in the photo below from a view on the deck.
The grounds of Kentuck Knob have one of the best sculpture gardens I’ve ever seen. One of the many pieces that I loved is shown below, a remnant from a London building.
and a pissoire from Paris.