Over the summer I embarked upon a cross country road trip. Traveling with a friend, we left New York and drove for about ten days until we got to Casper, Wyoming. I dropped off my friend, and then resumed my trip to San Francisco. Whenever I think back of the time spent on the trip, images from everywhere flood my senses.
Some of my fondest memories of the trip are based around discovering new places along the way in the least expected places. Others were places already known and pre-marked as mandatory destinations.
Falling Water was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1935, who completed construction on the home in 1939. Built for the Kaufmann family outside of Pittsburgh, the house was groundbreaking in it’s conception and design. The Kaufmann family owned a series of department stores in Pittsburgh and were able to employ Wright to design and build the home along the banks of a waterfall on Bear Run. Wright surveyed the site and decided to build the home on top of the waterfall. Using a unique design of cantilevered concrete ledges, which were secured to adjacent rock, the house effectively hovers over the landscape.
I first learned about the house during high school from my art teacher. I was an avid fan of This Old House, a PBS show where homes are rebuilt and/or constructed, and I was amazed at the pictures I saw of the house. Needless to say stepping into the actual house for a tour was highly anticipated. The house itself is breathtaking.
Stepping into the home you learn about the Kaufmann family, Frank Lloyd Wright, and their plans to build the home. The house is now owned and maintained by the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy foundation which recently spent seven million dollars to restore the home to proper condition. The artifacts in the home are as as they were when the Kaufmann’s owned the home. The furniture, the belongings, everything is as it was. As a historical time piece, it is a testament to Frank Lloyd Wright’s design and revolutionary planning as an architect. It is well worth the drive to Western Pennsylvania at any time of the year.
Located in downtown St. Louis, Missorui; City Museum was a fantastic find along the road trip. Though I am not able to find the actual historical specifics, I was told that City Museum was created by an St. Louis artist who bought the former office building for 250 thousand dollars. The artist decided to repurpose the building as a living breathing museum by essentially recycling discarded pieces of industry, transportation, buildings, and art. Essentially, one can look at City Museum as a playground for everyone. On the outside of the building, one will find such varied items as buses, airplanes, suspended climbing apparatus, mazes, remnants of industrial buildings, an aquarium, a cave, and much more.
It sounds crazy, but I am not alone in my love of this place. Though I think playground may be a better description of the site, City Museum is a great destination if you are in St. Louis.
The Eames House is located in Santa Monica, California. Designed and Built by Ray and Charles Eames in the 1940’s, the house was completed by Christmas Eve, 1949. The house was first designed by Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen using pre-fabircated off-the-shelf parts as a response to the Case Study House program. The program was started by John Estenza, the publisher of Arts and Architecture magazine. Though due to the war efforts, supplies were in shortage until after WWII when Ray and Charles redesigned and built the home. Well known for the breadth of their work, this house pushed the concept of building a home out of everyday parts. They preserved the meadow surrounding their home, which overlooks the pacific palisades and the Santa Monica beach.
I spent a summer in Santa Monica in 1995, yet never went to the house. Ten years later, I made up for it and saw the home. Unfortunately, you cannot walk through the home, as they have put up velvet ropes to preserve the home, and the furnishings, like those within Falling Water, have been preserved since the Eames left the home.