"75 Years of Fallingwater"

Special Exhibitions for Fallingwater’s 75th Anniversary

Kaufmann’s: Pittsburgh’s Purveyor of Culture
June 24 through August 28

Old Kaufmann's Poster

Kaufmann’s was a household name for generations of Western Pennsylvanians, but some may be surprised to know that the department store chain made the creation of Fallingwater possible. Kaufmann’s: Pittsburgh’s Purveryor of Culture, an exhibition at the Fallingwater Visitors Center Gallery from June 24 until August 28, 2011, presents the numerous connections between the Pittsburgh-based department store and the Frank Lloyd Wright masterwork. Lectures by the exhibition’s curator, Justin Gunther, will be given on June 28, July 19 and August 23 at 3 p.m.

Kaufmann’s originated in Pittsburgh in 1871 and expanded to include nearly 60 stores across the eastern U.S. before it became part of the Macy’s chain. It was owned and managed for many years by Edgar Kaufmann Sr., who commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to design Fallingwater.

The site on which Fallingwater was built — Kaufmann’s summer camp — was owned by the department store. Prior to Fallingwater’s construction in 1936, the cottages, dense forest and waterfall at the camp served as a weekend getaway for the Kaufmanns and their friends, but also as a retreat for Kaufmann’s department store employees. When this much-loved site was chosen as the setting for Fallingwater, revenue from the department store enabled the Kaufmann family to construct the house, which cost $155,000 when it was built.

“We thought this exhibition would provide a nice way to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Fallingwater, because the department store afforded the Kaufmanns the ability to fund Fallingwater,” said Justin Gunther, Fallingwater’s curator of buildings and collections.

The summer exhibition showcases images of Kaufmann Sr.’s office, which was designed by Wright, the summer camp prior to Fallingwater’s construction, exhibitions held at the store, and other historical information and images related to Kaufmann’s department store, the Kaufmann family and Frank Lloyd Wright.

Design Competition: On-Site Cottages at Fallingwater
September 9 through November 13

The winning cottage design by Patkau Architects
The winning cottage design by Patkau Architects

This exhibition in the Visitors Center Gallery of Fallingwater from September 9 until November 13, 2011 features six innovative designs for cottages proposed to be located a short distance from Fallingwater, within the over 5,000 acre Bear Run Nature Reserve. Lectures by Fallingwater Director and WPC Vice President Lynda Waggoner will be given on September 13, October 4, and October 25 at 3 p.m.

The cottage designs resulted from A Design Competition of Ideas, held in 2010, which called upon six leading architectural firms to create concepts for low-maintenance, energy-efficient cottages. The cottages would house participants in Fallingwater’s intensive, on-site educational programs.

The six participating firms were selected due to their leading-edge work in green housing design. Each was tasked with presenting designs that would create a sense of community and become a benchmark for the design, construction and operation of small-scale green housing. The designs used environmentally friendly building materials and took advantage of natural heating and cooling opportunities to minimize environmental impacts. Each also incorporated recycling of kitchen and grey water for use in toilets.

The designs were originally displayed in an exhibition, Design Competition: New Cottages at Fallingwater, at the Carnegie Museum of Art’s Heinz Architectural Center, during the summer of 2010. The winner of the competition was Vancouver, B.C.-based Patkau Architects.