Edgar Kaufmann Sr., a prominent Pennsylvania businessman, was the owner of Fallingwater. He was surprised to see that Wright’s design placed his weekend home directly over the falls rather than at their base, but ultimately warmed to the idea. Wright’s plans mean that the water can be heard throughout the building but only seen from the uppermost balcony. The famous designer’s Japanese aesthetics and principles are perhaps most clearly observed through this creation. Interior and exterior spaces combine through the strategic use of windows and balconies (as well as through sound); humans and nature are hardly separated in Fallingwater.
Construction didn’t go off without a hitch: Wright, Kaufmann and the contractor disagreed about the amount of reinforcement needed for the concrete cantilevered balconies. Wright won out in the end, but not after some of the balconies had to be redone. Fallingwater, which cost $155,000 (now: $2.4 million) to build, also suffers from mold and condensation problems because of the lack of a thermal break. It’s been facetiously called “Rising Mildew” in response to its many moisture issues.