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Travel Report of Wright's Architectures in the U.S.-Part 1
The director associates Wright's crowning work, the "Fallingwater" (Kaufmann House) with YODOKO Guest House
Naoyoshi Shibata, Director YODOKO Guest House
Appointed as Director of YODOKO Guest House in March 1998. Since then, he has been expanding his understanding and respect for the architecture of Wright. Last summer, he joined a Wright architecture study tour hosted by the architect,Raku Endo * (10 days). He visited Wright's representative 13 works from east side of New York to Chicago in the Midwestern U.S.
External view of "Fallingwater" (Kaufmann House)
Built on the spot where a clear stream starts falling as waterfall, standing in harmony with the beautiful nature of the valley.
*His father, Mr. Arata Endo was responsible for the construction of YODOKO Guest House after Wright's leaving for the U.S. Both he and his father were disciples of Wright.

The sight is so moving that some actually shed tears

Last August, I took part in a tour of Wright's works in the U.S., his homeland. I am going to share my experience with you in serial articles, and hope you can enjoy them. In this first article, I would like to introduce Wright's crowning work, the "Fallingwater." "Fallingwater" is built in the valley called Bear Run, Pennsylvania, in the eastern U.S. The members of the tour traveled for approximately two hours in a bus from a neighboring city, Pittsburgh, and wedged our way into the valley, anxiously looking forward to seeing it. Before long, the building made its appearance in front of us. I later heard some people cried when they realized their long-cherished dream had finally come true. The building was so beautiful and dynamic as if it was a part of nature that I was moved profoundly.


With tour members

Episode relating to the design

The client was Mr. Kaufmann, a successful owner of department stores at the time. When he was planning to reconstruct his mountain lodge for hunting, built on the grounds of several hundreds of thousands tsubo (approx. 3.3 m2), he asked Wright to design the house. This was realized since his son was a disciple of Wright. It is said that they both were nature-loving people and liked each other immediately. By the way, speaking of "Fallingwater," the location is the characteristic point. I was told an interesting story. When Wright inspected the site, he asked Kaufmann which place he liked the most. Mr. Kaufmann answered that his favorite part of the site was the "rock protruding from the clear steam above the waterfall." What was built blew everyone's mind: The building was standing right above the waterfall, and the owner's favorite rock was made part of it. The building was completed in 1936, when Wright was 69 years old. The building, which Wright named, "Fallingwater," has been admired as the most romantic residence in the world in later years.


Part of the building digs
into the rock

Surprise lies in not only the location but also the interiors

While I was in the building, I kept being surprised by its interiors, as well as the location. The most impressive point was the space structure, filled with unpredictable features. When you go up the stairs from the narrow and dark entrance, you will see a different world. You now are standing in a spacious and bright living room. The interior work was also unique. A rock protruded from the floor in front of the fireplace, and a few bottles of wine were standing on a table made of tree trunk. Near the table, a ball like a huge ground cherry (approximately 60 cm in diameter) is hanging from the ceiling. I was told this is a tool for serving wine.

Front of the fireplace in the living room A rock of the stream is used as an interior ornament. The ball-shaped container for serving wine is also unique.

Impressed by many common points with YODOKO Guest House

"Fallingwater" was more splendid than I had expected. It made me experience a new emotion. However, I was most impressed when I found that the building had several things in common with YODOKO Guest House (completed in 1924). The highlight is the living room: narrow paths from the entrance, large windows, and built-in sofas, and balconies...although it was 3-4 times larger than the guest house, there was a space specific to Wright, where inside and outside of the building were blended together as one space. In addition, the fact that the floor adopted the inverted beam method and part of the building dug into a rock had something in common with the guesthouse, in terms of location and structure. I felt thrilled when I saw them. I was also guided to the private rooms and guest rooms on the second and third floors, and had lunch in the dining room in the separate building. I spent four hours in the building, fully enjoying the cozy world of Wright, and left for the next destination, again remembering the beauty of the building.

Built-in furniture was installed in everywhere, including this bookshelf on the wall of the stairs
Large windows and built-in sofas let us fully enjoy the view of great nature

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