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Frank Lloyd Wright

Visual Analysis Fallingwater

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A Visual Analysis of Fallingwater


Fallingwater, constructed from 1936-1938, is the building that architect Frank Lloyd Wright is most renowned. His use of the formal elements in art suggests a unity and oneness with nature that allows for the building to blend in with its surroundings.

Line is used to emphasize the oneness with nature. Horizontal lines can be found in the ferroconcrete balconies. These are repetitive and also in line with the rock formations below. Vertical lines can be found in the stone columns that shoot upward from the house. These are similar to the surrounding trees that project upward as well. The arrangements of these horizontal and vertical lines run parallel with the surrounding nature and reinforce the idea of harmony with nature.

Light is sporadic throughout the building, and the only constant light is visual at night when the building is lit. During the day, light is found in its most natural form. Shadows are cast by the arrangement and construction of the building itself. The overhanging balconies project a shadow over what lies beneath, much as overhanging cliffs would do to the water below. At night is the only time where Fallingwater sticks out from nature; however, it is not obtuse, but merely an outline of the structure, so that onlookers are aware that it is there.

Natural tones are used for color. Stone grey and cream colors with a lot of brown mixed in matches the trees seen in the fall. Hints of red are seen in the structure which draws attention to certain parts of the structure. This tone of red can also be found in surrounding rocks. No extremely bright colors are used, nor any colors that would not be found in nature around the structure. This helps to blend the house into its element and make its presence less obvious.

Texture and pattern combined in Fallingwater imitate nature. The balconies consist of a smooth texture, whereas the vertical stone columns have a rougher rockier texture. This is symbolic of the varying textures of nature. This again helps to make the structure seem more natural in its setting.

Shape and volume vary throughout the structure. There are many rectangular shapes, but they are different sizes and oriented differently. The volume is not obtuse, but certain areas do project outward or upward from the building. The shape and volume again correlate strongly with the randomness of nature and how one thing might protrude, but looks as though it is almost meant to be there.

Space, like pattern and volume, is sporadic as well. In some places, the structure takes up a large portion of the area, but in other spots such as underneath the balconies there is a lot of negative space. Instead of having a large clearing to place the structure in the middle of a forest, there is as little as clearing that is possible with the fullness of nature peaking in every window. By doing this, there is as little destruction of the natural area as possible.

The principles of composition also emphasize the blending and harmonizing with nature. Balance is present in the sense that Fallingwater is unbalanced and irregular in composition as is the wilderness. Rhythm is present in two senses. There is a repetitive rhythm in the vertical columns and the overhanging balconies, but there is also an eccentric rhythm in the actual erratic shape of the house; however, this shape does connect with the surrounding atmosphere. It is also proportional to nature in the sense that no part of the structure is taller than the forest itself, which also helps to make Fallingwater blend. Unity is seen, as has been repeated many of times, in the cohesiveness with nature. The emphasis of the work, although easy to believe that it would be the surrounded waterfall, is the harmony with nature that the building portrays and that a close coexistence of the human world and the wild is possible.

Frank Lloyd Wright Group 2006 Art Appreciation