Western Pennsylvania Conservancy

Western Pennsylvania Conservancy

Celebrating a Fallingwater Milestone

Loyalhanna Creek, Westmoreland County

More than 160,000 visitors from around the world helped celebrate Fallingwater’s 75th anniversary. The year’s theme, “Art in Nature,” highlighted Frank Lloyd Wright’s legacy and showcased how architecture can live in harmony with nature. The milestone was also marked with symposia, exhibitions, publications and an unforgettable gala.

More than 9,000 elementary, middle and high school students participated in educational programs, tours and workshops during 2011. Additionally, 45 high school and college students, as well as seven teachers and 20 lifelong learners, attended on-site residential programs.

Weekly lectures at The Barn at Fallingwater had a total attendance of more than 500 in 2011. The four rotating topics offered during the year were: Kaufmann’s Department Store, the Fallingwater cottage competition, the Kaufmanns’ art collection at Fallingwater and restoration and conservation projects undertaken at Fallingwater.

Photo taken in 1936, during Fallingwater’s construction.
Photo taken in 1936, during Fallingwater’s construction.

Ken Salazar, U.S. Secretary of the Interior, announced in July that Fallingwater and 10 other Frank Lloyd Wright buildings would be nominated for designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The list, administered by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, recognizes other world-renowned and culturally significant landmarks noted for their outstanding universal value, such as the Taj Mahal and Yellowstone National Park.

Fallingwater 75th Anniversary Events:

An international symposium titled “Private Domains /Public Displays: the Modern House Interpreted” in April examined how new materials and technologies permitted modernist architects to experiment with nontraditional forms and methods of construction. Curators and directors from the United States and abroad discussed the unexpected preservation and interpretive challenges associated with presenting these unique buildings to the public.

The canopy above the steps leading to
Fallingwater’s guest house
The canopy above the steps leading to Fallingwater’s guest house

A summer symposium launched FALLINGWATER, a landmark volume commemorating the anniversary. Published by Rizzoli New York and edited by WPC Vice President and Fallingwater Director Lynda Waggoner, the book features new photography and essays on Fallingwater’s history, structure, restoration and collections.

The history of the Kaufmann family and its legendary department store was examined in an exhibition at the Visitors Pavilion: “Kaufmann’s: Pittsburgh Purveyor of Culture.” Employing historic photographs, documents and objects, the exhibition offered a glimpse into how Edgar Kaufmann used the legendary store to shape the cultural fabric of Pittsburgh.

Fallingwater’s 75th Anniversary Gala was attended by 235 guests. Honorary Chair Lord Peter Palumbo gave the keynote address, and Bodiography Contemporary Ballet performed. Guests enjoyed a dinner under a clear tent in the nearby meadow. The evening concluded with a light and sound installation at the house.

The anniversary was capped off in December with the final exhibition of “Fallingwater en Perspectiva, Felix de la Concha Paints Frank Lloyd Wright’s House on the Waterfall.” The exhibition had been on tour in venues across the U.S. since 2007. An opening reception was followed by a screening of Ken Love’s remastered documentary film “Fallingwater: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Masterwork.”

Fallingwater 2009 – 2011 Strategic Plan Accomplishments

  • • Completed renovation of the parking lot; including repaving, installing a sustainable stormwater runoff system, new signage and plantings.
  • • Optimized Fallingwater’s 75th anniversary through lectures, exhibitions, educational events and a gala.
  • • Reconfigured the educational programs to offer diverse opportunities for a variety of participants from elementary school students to senior citizens.
  • • Repainted Fallingwater and completed the restoration of the Bear Run Schoolhouse.
  • • Endowed 146 windows, allowing Fallingwater to replace window glass to protect the house and its furnishings and collections from heat, sunlight and UV radiation.
  • • Selected a design for on-site cottages that will support residential educational programming. Patkau Architects of Vancouver, British Columbia was selected through a juried competition.