Perfect Harmony

In the toe of my wife’s Christmas stocking this year, I nestled a small gift to help her sleep. It’s a travel version of one of those sound machines, where you can dial up anything from rain to ocean waves to lull you off to Never Never Land. You can even mimic a waterfall, which would be my personal choice. After all, it’s the same sound the Kaufmann family enjoyed for years at their stunning retreat in the Pennsylvania forest, southeast of Pittsburgh. Seeing this famous house is an entry on my bucket list. Yes, one of these days I will make the trek to Fallingwater.

If you’re old enough to remember, “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing”, you know the song’s about more than just apple trees and honey bees.  It’s about “perfect harmony”, which is how anyone would describe Fallingwater.  This beautiful structure is exactly as named: a house on top of a waterfall.  It is considered one of architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s greatest achievements.  The design is a melding of interior and exterior spaces, a principle borrowed from the Japanese.  Fallingwater is a building, yes, but it’s more often described as “… harmony between man and nature”.

If you know anything about Wright, you know he was an eccentric architect.  When the Kaufmann’s called to stop by his studio for a progress report, Wright hadn’t even begun the drawings.  Yet by the time they arrived two hours later, Wright had completed the entire design.  This production under pressure reminds me of author Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, a novel written in just nine days and considered one of Bradbury’s greatest works.

The genius of Fallingwater’s design is in the details, or perhaps the lack of them.  The house is constructed of reinforced concrete, stone, and glass.  Its interior spaces are small and dark, encouraging more time spent outdoors.  The sound of water can be heard everywhere, whether from the stream and waterfall below or from the natural spring allowed to drip along one of the hallways.  Fallingwater’s distinctive cantilevered terraces are meant to resemble nearby rock formations, extending in every direction to the forested surroundings.  Its dramatic perch on top of the waterfall is hidden from the approach to the house, lending to a sense of modesty.

Fallingwater brings the outdoors in wherever possible, and its best example may be a ledge-shaped rock in the living room, left undisturbed in its original location.  The surrounding stone floor is waxed while the ledge is left plain and dull, creating the look of a rock protruding from a stream.  A stair descends from the same room, several steps down to a platform whose function is to simply admire the stream.  From photos, you’d believe Fallingwater was constructed entirely offsite and dropped gently within the forest by pushing aside a few tree branches.

Today, Fallingwater is a National Historic Landmark.  You can tour the house and grounds with the purchase of a ticket at the visitor’s information website.  If I were to visit, it’d be a ten-hour drive from where I live.  That’s not going to happen anytime soon.  Instead, I will build Fallingwater; literally.  It is a model in the LEGO Architecture series and I am lucky to own a copy.  As I tell my family, there are only two LEGO models I’ve ever wanted to build: the Grand Piano (completed last year and blogged about here), and Fallingwater.  It’s a new year and it’s time to get started.

I’ll bring you along for the ride as my miniature Fallingwater takes shape in my home office.  You can look for updates at the end of the next several posts.  Eight hundred pieces from now, when all is said and done, I may borrow that little sleep aid I gave my wife for Christmas.  After all, no house built on top of a waterfall would be complete without the sounds to go with it.  Remember, we’re talking (er, singing) about perfect harmony here.

Some content sourced from Wikipedia, “the free encyclopedia”.

Author: Dave

Three hundred posts would suggest I have something to say… This blog was born from a desire to elevate the English language, highlighting eloquent words from days gone by. The stories I share are snippets of life itself, and each comes with a bonus: a dusted-off word I hope you’ll go on to use more often. Read “Deutschland-ish Improvements” to learn about my backyard European wish list. Try “Slush Fun” for the throwback years of the 7-Eleven convenience store. Or drink in "Iced Coffee" to discover the plight of the rural French cafe. On the lighter side, read "Late Night Racquet Sports" for my adventures with our latest moth invasion. As Walt Whitman said, “That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.” Here then, my verse. Welcome to "Life In A Word".

27 thoughts on “Perfect Harmony”

    1. The Gugg may be my favorite of Wright’s commercial designs, Neil (though there are so many to choose from). But IMHO Fallingwater stands alone among his residential designs.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. My brother and his wife gifted the model to me after finding one on eBay (Lego discontinued it). They still won’t tell me how much they paid for it 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Wow – back to your architecture days! This looks FUN indeed. You might end up dedicating one room to ALL of your Lego builds one day. Wonderful! Let’s get started…. LOL, since we are in the audience.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Fallingwater and the Grand Piano are the only Lego models I care to build, but never say never, right? Lego keeps coming out with new ones so I might take back my words someday.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Why am I not surprised you’ve been to Taliesin West, Margy? I prefer Wright’s Prairie-style houses (you can see several on a walking tour in Oak Park, IL) but TW is always included in Wright’s best works. I wonder how much time he actually spent there.

      Like

      1. On the tour we learned that TW was built in 1937 by Wright and his apprentices – and was added to and modified for many years. Wright spent his winters there until his death in 1959. It was both a home and a workshop for him, his apprentices and the staff.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Any student of architecture in America will come across Fallingwater sooner or later. I wasn’t a fan of a lot of other architects and their so-called signature designs, but Fallingwater… yeah, it was hard not to “fall” for it 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I wasn’t aware of the site, but it looks spectacular! Good luck on the Lego. I always loved that song and listened to it today while walking as it’s on my 60’s playlist.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I wondered what your next Lego project would be Dave! I always liked that song/commercial back in the day. At the conclusion of the “Mad Men” television series, ad man Don Draper’s big idea was this commercial and it was the final scene in the series finale. I had a Radio Shack radio AM/FM radio headset which played about ten sounds to help you fall asleep. There were nature sounds, but also a rhythmic sound of a train rolling over the tracks – almost as soothing as a babbling brook. The selection did not include a waterfall. Had I known Radio Shack would go out of business, I’d have bought more of those headsets. The company has a website, but that product has been out of stock for several years – guess I am not the only who enjoyed the soothing sounds, plus the option to flip to AM or FM stations at the push of a button. I need to get a white noise machine or something to block out my neighbor’s dog which whines and howls as soon as she leaves for work in the morning and doesn’t stop until she gets home from work. I work from home in the kitchen, next to the room the dog is in all day. I use a soothing sounds website on the computer and earplugs right now, but that is annoying after many hours.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve lost track of the number of annoying dog stories I’ve heard like yours, Linda. It’s cruel to the animal and completely disrespectful to those nearby. Some people shouldn’t have pets. You should blog about AM/FM radios. I keep one in my home office drawer (which my tech friends would laugh at) but sometimes the most basic form of technology is still the best solution. Like you say though, they’re getting hard to find these days!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Dave, there are some days I think I’ll lose my mind. She’s gone right now and all the windows are closed and I can still hear the dog whining. She leaves the TV on all day for it but that doesn’t help. It is inconsiderate to everyone. The online noises I have found are okay for a while, then they get on my nerves.

        I still have an AM/FM Bose table radio and AM/FM Bose “The Wave” with a cassette player that my mom bought me years ago. I think most people download apps for favorite stations and just listen that way. I have always had a small battery-operated transistor radio like you have in your office drawer. We have a need to know the news – our techy friends don’t “get” it!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Do you ever watch Murdoch Mysteries? It’s sett in the early 1900s and the main characters live in a FLW house that is not in keeping with all the Victorian houses around it. The house looks like Fallingwater and I think is supposed to represent that the William and Julia are progressive adults who aren’t bound by tradition. It’s a funny conceit. Good luck with your Legos.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the recommendation, Ally; I’ve never seen Murdoch Mysteries. The Murdoch house has the classic look of Wright’s “prairie” style, with its strong horizontal lines and liberal use of brick and stone. It is reminiscent of one of his more famous designs, the Robie house in Chicago. I’ll have to watch the show!

      Like

  5. If the Lego company created an updated model of Fallingwater, they’d surely include caps for all those blocks with the posts showing. Oh–and sloped caps too. Nonetheless, there’s no mistaking the final product mimics Fallingwater. You could add an extra challenge when you’ve completed the build: create a water feature/waterfall to run underneath!

    Like

    1. There’s something “innocent” about the LEGO look of this model (especially after building the Grand Piano) and I have to agree, the designer did a heckuva job mimicking Fallingwater with basic blocks! As you’ll read this week, the build is already more of a challenge than I expected.

      Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: