Fallingwater: Mill Run, Pennsylvania. January, 2003

My wife and I had been to West Virginia last week and we bought a bunch of furniture... way too much furniture... more furniture than we could fit in the car for the drive home.  With my wife out of town this weekend, I had the excuse to head back and pick up the new furniture.  I decided to drive the extra hour to Fallingwater to see if they had grounds passes for the day.  I was in luck.  They were open.  There was no-one around but me, so I got some great photos.  

Fallingwater from across the bridge

I've photographed Fallingwater during every season, but I've never been able to spend time there with snow on the ground.  At this time of year, the house is not open for tours.  This is especially true since they're doing renovations at the moment. 

From the bridge

The construction equipment and tarps were very visible all over the house.  I actually enjoy seeing the construction under way.  You get to see a certain amount of the inner workings of the house that were otherwise not visible when the house is intact.  I imagine if this was the first time you'd been to see Fallingwater, you might really be disappointed.  But for people like me who have visited the home more than 15 times over the last 12 years, the variety is a good thing. 

Fish eye shot from the bridge

The fish eye lens really brings out the best in this house.  It helps to get up close to the house to see the detail, but at the same time, its great to see the whole house.  

Ice in the driveway near the main entry

The whole side of the hill behind Fallingwater is full of natural springs.  During the summer time, you don't notice the water moving down the hill so much.  There is one visible spring that feeds the moss garden inside the door that leads to the guest house, and another that feeds the swimming pool, but other than that, you don't see much water above the creek.  The winter is another story.  The water freezes and accumulates and these ice flows keep getting bigger and bigger all winter.  I imagine this could do some damage to the house, but I haven't noticed it when I've visited in the spring or summer. 

Ice on the main terrace

Much of the house is protected at this point by plastic tarps.  I don't know how much that helps with an ice flow like this one though. 

Too cold for the plunge pool?

Something tells me that this spring-fed pool would be a little chilly this time of year.  You can see the ice formation from the spring that comes out through the wall.  

Down the stairs to the plunge pool

Architectural critic Paul Goldberger has one of my favorite quotes about Fallingwater in the Ken Burns special about Frank Lloyd Wright.  “Great architecture, like any kind of great art, ultimately takes you somewhere that words cannot take you.  And Fallingwater does that…  There’s some experience that gets you in your gut and you just feel it.  You can’t quite say it.”

“My whole life is dealing with architecture in words.  And at the end of the day there is something I can’t entirely say when it comes to what Fallingwater feels like.”

 “I remember the first time I went to Fallingwater… taking a long walk down, looking at it from across the waterfall… and I just wanted to sing… There was nothing really to say.  It was so extraordinary.”

Fallingwater from the viewpoint

Thanks to global warming, this is the first year in the last 9 that the falls have been this frozen.  The creek is still running under the ice, but I watched the security guy walk across the creek above the falls and the ice didn't budge at all.  It was plenty thick.

Another shot with the frozen falls

This shot shows all of the falls.  The home is really at one with its surroundings, regardless of the season.  The ice fits as well with the house as the water.  

Fish eye shot from the driveway


Fish eye shot from the guest house


Fish eye shot from across the bridge


Fish eye from the base of the falls

For the first time ever, I was able to take the stairs down to the base of the falls.  Every other time I'd been there, these stairs were closed off.  I think they were supposed to be closed off today, but I sort of went down anyways.  I wasn't the only person who'd been down there.  This definitely shows the mass of the ice as it goes over the falls.  I love this vantage point and I've wanted to photograph from here for years.  This shot made my day. 

Stitch from below the falls

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