12 Forbes Terrace
Pittsburgh, PA 15217












Tuesday, July 29, 2003

The Wright Stuff

Our class went to two of Frank Lloyd Wright's houses today: Fallingwater and Kentuck Knob.

Fallingwater is generally considered a masterpiece, one of the top five houses ever built. And it's easy to see why:

What's fascinating to note are the smaller compositions within a bigger composition: like the fireplace inside the living room. Harkens back to our discussion yesterday about the Japanese bento boxes, where each element is composed inside the whole of the box.

Wright's command of light is pretty amazing, too. A darkened hallway warns guests not to go that way. Skylights drop light inside only during certain seasons. Skylights are hidden in an herb garden to let light and air into a bathroom.

Equally impressive is Wright's command of his clients. His nearly total control of every detail is an unusual state for a designer. His "consessions," especially at Fallingwater, are pretty minor.

Fallingwater, by the way, is a mess, structurally. It's taken two years to fix all the problems. It was sinking into the river, basically. It also doesn't seem like the most comfortable place to live, although with the dozens of people going through the house with you, it's hard to tell. You get about 2 minutes a room, if you're lucky.

Kentuck Red is a little more relaxed, both as a place and the experience of touring it. It's a much more humble and warm house than Fallingwater; much more like Wright's earlier Prairie Period houses (1901-1922) that I like so much. It's a beautiful house in its own right, with some nice views on the property as well:

Kentuck Knob only has two right angles in the whole house, and those are in the showers. Everything else is at 30, 60, and 120 degree angles: even down to the dental molding around the skylights.

All in all, a worthwhile day, looking at some beautiful architecture.

posted at 10:49 PM in field trips | comments (0) | trackback (0)


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