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View Full Version : Falling Water vs Gamble House



Tom Bender
05-24-2019, 7:10 AM
The difference between these two is ,,,,help me find the words,,,,

Mike Cutler
05-24-2019, 8:05 AM
Falling Water is an architectural deign motif by Frank Lloyd Wright. Gamble House is a Greene and Greene designed house in Pasadena Calif. Look at photos of Falling Water house in Pennsylvania, as opposed to Gamble House in Pasadena.
I would classify Falling water as being more associated with "Art Deco", but Greene and Greene's style was more an amalgamation of Mission and secessionist style, principally inspired by the Jugendstil art movement, and leaning toward the Art Nouveau.
Personally I find that Greene and Greene softened the hard,rectilinear lines of the mission style. Wright's work is abundant with hard lines.
I admire both bodies of work.

Steve Rozmiarek
05-24-2019, 9:01 AM
I like the word "better". Falling Water is better than Gamble. Falling Water was profound at it's inception, and still is. Gamble is nice woodwork in a rather boring house design.

Just my opinion ;)

Frederick Skelly
05-24-2019, 9:16 AM
The Gamble House is beautiful. In pictures, it looks more ... ornate? ... than Falling Water. I visited Falling Water and it's just amazing. I love the place. But it was fairly plain inside, with an emphasis on connecting the inside to nature outside. The passage that lets one go from the living room to the water, the slab of vertical windows that let's the woods connect to the upstairs rooms, etc. A few years back they had to shore-up the building to save it, because there were issues. It's quite a place.

I hope to get to Gamble House soon!

Edwin Santos
05-24-2019, 9:27 AM
Gamble House is a work of art.

Falling Water is a masterpiece.

The world is a more beautiful place with both of them in it.

Tom Bender
05-24-2019, 9:33 AM
Gamble House is a work of art.

Falling Water is a masterpiece.

Edwin I think the opposite. Falling Water is to look at, Gamble House is to look at and to live in.

Jim Becker
05-24-2019, 9:40 AM
I'm with Tom. Falling Water is visually stunning and has wonderful spaces, but like many FLW designs/structures, it wasn't executed very well physically and has had a lot of problems over the years including some heavy renovation not long ago to stabilize it. I really enjoyed my visit there years ago, however. While I've only seen Gamble House in photos, it's a completely different animal than Falling Water. It feels like a home, both visually and in how it's executed.

Bill Dufour
05-24-2019, 9:41 AM
AFAIK the Gamble house has no structural issues and the roof does not even leak. I do believe falling Water may be one of the few FLW designs that does not have roof problems. FW looks like living in a museum while the gamble house is designed to be lived in.
I have read the family that built falling water loved the location before the house was built. They went swimming and sun bathing on picnics there before the house was built. When they realized FLW destroyed the site and turned it into a basement they hated the house. They wanted a house so they could see the site from inside the house by looking out a window not a trapdoor.
Bill D

on edit; I looked it up, I was wrong, the roof does leak. I should have known. I am not aware of any FLW building that the roof does either not sag or leak or both.

Edwin Santos
05-24-2019, 11:55 AM
I am not aware of any FLW building that the roof does either not sag or leak or both.

Guggenheim Museum NYC?
Robie House?

Mel Fulks
05-24-2019, 12:51 PM
I like the word "better". Falling Water is better than Gamble. Falling Water was profound at it's inception, and still is. Gamble is nice woodwork in a rather boring house design.

Just my opinion ;).

Yeah, GH looks like someone dumped a lot of material, hired a bunch of carpenters, then yelled ,"Gentlemen, start your
hammers !"

glenn bradley
05-24-2019, 1:07 PM
.

Yeah, GH looks like someone dumped a lot of material, hired a bunch of carpenters, then yelled ,"Gentlemen, start your
hammers !"

Wow, talk about a difference of opinion :D. What appeals to us cannot really be argued as better or worse. This explains the existence of the bulk of country and rap music. Ka-chow!

Mel Fulks
05-24-2019, 2:05 PM
Since a "bungalow" is a one story house ,why do they call the Gamble House "the ultimate bungalow" ?

Flamone LaChaud
05-24-2019, 4:09 PM
In my mind, the main thing that Gamble House has against it isn't that the craftsmanship isn't there . . . it's that there's no visual contrast in the wood. Yes there are the signature G&G ebony plugs - but when I was browsing Google images of various rooms - I just got overwhelmed by red-orange. Yes, Falling Water isn't quite as 'homey', much more of a statement piece - but it's less taxing on my senses. If Gamble house had more varieties of wood in the construction to give a larger palette to show off the craftsmanship - it'd be even more impressive.

Mike Cutler
05-24-2019, 5:31 PM
.

Yeah, GH looks like someone dumped a lot of material, hired a bunch of carpenters, then yelled ,"Gentlemen, start your
hammers !"

Mel

I will have to politely disagree with you.
I grew up in South Pasadena, Eagle Rock, and the Highland Park areas of Los Angeles. I basically grew up with the Greene and Greene style, as well as the "American Bungalow".
A bungalow is much more than a single story dwelling.
The Prairie Style of Frank Lloyd Wright is also appealing to me, and I'm sure that there must be examples of his buildings that don't have leaking roofs, based on a design flaw.;)
Greene and Greene doesn't appeal to everyone. Gamble House would be over the top for a person not into Greene and Greene.

Mel Fulks
05-24-2019, 5:57 PM
Thanks,Mike. I just looked up "bungalow" again. I think the word comes from India,but this time I did not read all
definitions. It was widely used to describe the GI single story post WW2 houses. Tastes and family sizes change, many
housed a couple and a bunch of kids. Now few will rent or buy them and whole neighborhoods are being knocked down
to build larger homes. But this thread is the only place I've seen the word used for anything but single story homes.

Glenn de Souza
05-24-2019, 6:10 PM
The difference between these two is ,,,,help me find the words,,,,

Is there really an answer to a question like this?
It's like asking for the difference between Andres Segovia and Jimmy Page.

Dave Cav
05-24-2019, 8:34 PM
.

Yeah, GH looks like someone dumped a lot of material, hired a bunch of carpenters, then yelled ,"Gentlemen, start your
hammers !"

The Hall brothers (and their crew) were most assuredly not "a bunch carpenters".

Mike Cutler
05-24-2019, 8:54 PM
Thanks,Mike. I just looked up "bungalow" again. I think the word comes from India,but this time I did not read all
definitions. It was widely used to describe the GI single story post WW2 houses. Tastes and family sizes change, many
housed a couple and a bunch of kids. Now few will rent or buy them and whole neighborhoods are being knocked down
to build larger homes. But this thread is the only place I've seen the word used for anything but single story homes.

Mel
The area I grew up in was full of that type of architecture in the 60's. Much of it was located in lower income areas, and the houses fell to disrepair. They require a lot of maintenance. Some were beyond repair, and had to be condemned. Now there are many preservation societies to maintain them. Back then, it was just Dad's doing the painting and preserving.
They typically weren't big houses, so maybe that is how the term "Bungalow" got attached.
My house in CT, built in 1919, is termed a "Bungalow Cape" by modern definition. My Mother in law called it a "Hillbilly Shack".:eek: She only ever came here once, so maybe I'll stick with "Hillbilly Shack" to keep the riff raff away.;)

Frederick Skelly
05-24-2019, 10:44 PM
My Mother in law called it a "Hillbilly Shack".:eek: She only ever came here once, so maybe I'll stick with "Hillbilly Shack" to keep the riff raff away.;)

Maybe you should copy and sell your plans Mike? Sounds like insecticide for mother in laws!

Kev Williams
05-25-2019, 12:07 AM
I've never heard of them (I don't get out much, AND I'm not much of a woodworker ;) ) So I just looked at some pics--

Structural issues aside, both are pretty out-there designs to be sure. But I know this much, if I were to take the wife blindfolded into Gamble house, upon opening her eyes I know for a fact her first words would be: "Oh gawd, NO..." - She'd like the bedrooms, but not all that wood. I LOVE the wood, and I'm a huge fan of the craftsmanship it took to build the place, but I could never live there. Too monochromatic.

Now, the Falling Water house, totally different story. All that rock and stone is just amazing. With just enough wood where needed. And the water. We love water. It takes you to a whole different place in your mind. We both could, and would, live in a place like that in a heartbeat.

Oddly, to my eye, in looking at exterior pics of both houses, both of them appear-- crooked...? Not sure why...

The difference between the two, in words? --The house without the water, floats... ;)

Steve Rozmiarek
05-25-2019, 10:16 AM
.

Yeah, GH looks like someone dumped a lot of material, hired a bunch of carpenters, then yelled ,"Gentlemen, start your
hammers !"


LOL! I don't know if it's that bad, but I definitely get where you are coming from. I think of Falling Water as part of Wrights substantial portfolio of work which includes a huge variety as diverse as the Johnson and Johnson office building and Taliesen west. Greene and Greene were much less prolific and diverse. Several other California and national architects were also doing "ultimate bungalows" at the time they developed their style. This leads me to consider FLW a genius, and Greene and Greene as overrated and arguably not even the originators of their signature style.

When you boil it down, the G&G signature style is apparently the ebony pinned cloud lift as nothing else appears to be uniquely theirs. I certainly do admire their attention to detail and their work is wonderful, but it's nowhere close to FLW. Again, only my opinion.

Doug Dawson
05-25-2019, 11:47 AM
Is there really an answer to a question like this?
It's like asking for the difference between Andres Segovia and Jimmy Page.

I prefer Jimmy Page. He's a lot more flexible. He used to be a top session musician, you know. Very creative guy.

Doug Dawson
05-25-2019, 11:51 AM
When you boil it down, the G&G signature style is apparently the ebony pinned cloud lift as nothing else appears to be uniquely theirs. I certainly do admire their attention to detail and their work is wonderful, but it's nowhere close to FLW. Again, only my opinion.

Yes. Too many notes.

But at least their furniture didn't leak.

Doug Dawson
05-25-2019, 12:00 PM
The Prairie Style of Frank Lloyd Wright is also appealing to me, and I'm sure that there must be examples of his buildings that don't have leaking roofs, based on a design flaw.;).

Wright was a brilliant designer, but a terrible engineer. Did the Guggenheim roof leak? Would they tell you if it did?

The Gamble house is like living in an ornately appointed cave. Maybe that was the idea.

Frank Pratt
05-25-2019, 12:27 PM
Never visited either, love them both. But there is just something about Falling Water that speaks to my soul. I'll get there some day.

Mike Cutler
05-25-2019, 1:02 PM
Wright was a brilliant designer, but a terrible engineer. Did the Guggenheim roof leak? Would they tell you if it did?

The Gamble house is like living in an ornately appointed cave. Maybe that was the idea.

Doug
I think I'm just sensitive to the "leaking roof thing" at this particular moment in time.
We had our roof redone about 12 years ago, and this past winter/spring it began to leak onto our porch. The leak was right in line with the dormer wall, and I had repaired this same type of leak before, on the other side of the dormer.
I ripped off the barn board and batten siding and found that the shingles weren't step flashed correctly, and that a nail had rusted and pushed out that had been hammered through the wrong edge of some corner flashing.
Everything is back together now. Re did all of the step flashing and all new barn board and batten siding was put up, so I have some painting to do later.

Older houses have their "charm", but it's a genuine pain to do any maintenance on them. ;)

David Helm
05-26-2019, 7:15 PM
FLW did not understand the properties of water. Falling Water had to be rebuilt because of rot. Great design, in my opinion, requires both esthetic and weather proofing. Wrights buildings were pretty but I don't think great design because of the above. Greene and Greene just happens to be my favorite, and I have been in several of their houses(including the Gamble). The only thing I didn't like (a result of the era) was the ladk of good lighting.

Bill Dufour
05-27-2019, 11:59 AM
Guggenheim Museum NYC?
Robie House?

You are correct the Guggenheim does not leak it just condenses water on the walls that runs down to the floors. the art is mounted on brackets off the wall so it does not get too wet. Long socks of absorbent are placed at the base of the walls so water does not get on the floors and cause people to slip. No mention of how often the absorbent has to be switched out.
No mention of any roof problems on the other house.
Bill

Steve Rozmiarek
05-27-2019, 3:54 PM
Being consistent with the argument that FLW architecture is defective because a roof leak developed later, would require pretty much all buildings built before yesterday to be judged as subpar because they lack the utmost best materials available now. All buildings fail without maintenance, it isn't a defect. The features that make houses the most remarkable tend to also be the most demanding of maintenance. It'd be a very boring house built exclusively to eliminate potential maintenance.

Mel Fulks
05-27-2019, 4:29 PM
FLW was also warned about engineering problems with Falling Water before they started to show. Something about big
pieces falling off.

Chuck Wintle
05-28-2019, 7:17 AM
I read an interesting article on-line in scientific american about the efforts needed to stabilize the roof beams and walls to keep it from collapsing. FLW was a visionary architect but he was not a structural engineer by any means.

Frederick Skelly
05-28-2019, 9:35 AM
I read an interesting article on-line in scientific american about the efforts needed to stabilize the roof beams and walls to keep it from collapsing. FLW was a visionary architect but he was not a structural engineer by any means.

Following up on Chuck's post, here is an obituary for the guy who saved Falling Water. LINK (https://fallingwater.org/bob-silman-in-memoriam/) I'm posting it because it has a link (at the bottom) to the Scientific American article Chuck mentioned. Don't know how much I'll be able to follow, but it looked interesting. Edit: I just finished the article and it's fairly readable if anyone is interested. Thanks for the lead Chuck - I enjoyed it.

Fred

Tom Bender
05-29-2019, 6:43 AM
From an eastern perspective Gamble House does seem dark inside because of all the wood and the subdued plasterwork and the weak lighting. But a dim interior is appropriate to the location where the sun blazes in a light blue sky and clouds are rare. A dim interior is a relief to the eyes and a relief from the heat. Natural lighting is more effective there. There are several open air features as well, like the sleeping porches and long views. Also, we should excuse the weak lighting given that electric lighting was pretty new and rare outside of built up areas. People were accustomed to dimmer interiors.

If we could get them to come to Pennsylvania today, G & G would build something quite different.

Frank Pratt
05-29-2019, 9:44 AM
Thanks for posting that link Fred.

Perry Hilbert Jr
05-29-2019, 10:09 AM
Never been to either. Almost all flat roofs have problems unless maintained often. There was a small brick bungalow for sale near here that I tried to buy for an office 20 years ago. All dark oak wood work with lots of finials indoors. The hard wood floors had dark wood designs inlaid around the room. Nearly all the doors had heavy beveled glass windows, and heavy beveled glass transom windows above. The outside gables had fancy trim work. Most of the first floor windows had leaded glass designed panes. the dining room had old fashioned wide board paneling below the chair board. The dining room was separated from the kitchen by two large fancy pocket doors. The Den was lined with matching wood built in book shelves. The ceiling was slightly higher than most, but I don't know if it was 9 ft. It was a testament to the fancy interior trim work of a century ago.

I have no idea what style it might be called. It was one of the most fascinating houses I had ever been in,

Patrick Walsh
05-29-2019, 5:59 PM
That sounds just awesome.

Sadly nothing like it is built anymore unless you are in the 20 million and up territory. I’m not suggesting anything less can not be nice as clearly it can be but generally that kind of craftsmanship I just not see anymore even on 3-5 million dollar homes.

I have a 1926 sears craftsman bungalow kit home. It was built by the original owner whom was a carpenter by trade. By comparison to today’s homes it exudes quality even as simple and basic as it is. I hate its proximity to my neighbors and generally its location but the idea of moving and settling for pos keeps me right where I am.

You can still put a marble in any comet of it and it stays put. For the most part a square in any corner and level on any wall.

What’s that have to do with falling waters, gamble house or flat roofs I don’t know. It’s bungalow it’s built really well and I love everything arts and crafts except the furniture, love frank loyd right even more. Talent allows one to be less,than practical.


Never been to either. Almost all flat roofs have problems unless maintained often. There was a small brick bungalow for sale near here that I tried to buy for an office 20 years ago. All dark oak wood work with lots of finials indoors. The hard wood floors had dark wood designs inlaid around the room. Nearly all the doors had heavy beveled glass windows, and heavy beveled glass transom windows above. The outside gables had fancy trim work. Most of the first floor windows had leaded glass designed panes. the dining room had old fashioned wide board paneling below the chair board. The dining room was separated from the kitchen by two large fancy pocket doors. The Den was lined with matching wood built in book shelves. The ceiling was slightly higher than most, but I don't know if it was 9 ft. It was a testament to the fancy interior trim work of a century ago.

I have no idea what style it might be called. It was one of the most fascinating houses I had ever been in,

Rob Luter
05-29-2019, 6:08 PM
Guggenheim Museum NYC?
Robie House?

The museum was plagued by roof leaks, as was Falling Water (no pun intended).

Rob Luter
05-29-2019, 6:13 PM
Wright was a brilliant designer, but a terrible engineer.

While on the tour the Docent told us the contractor installed the prestressed concrete beams upside down and concealed the fact from FLW until the project was nearly done and already exhibiting signs of sagging.

Bill Carey
05-29-2019, 7:22 PM
The Hall brothers (and their crew) were most assuredly not "a bunch carpenters".

Agree on that. IMHO G&G were niche designers, expanding an existing motif or school of design. As such they are interesting, but to me the beauty of the GH is in it's execution by the Halls and their tradesmen. The skills evident in the woodworking, and the attention to detail they maintained thru out are wonderful, and have virtue and value on their own regardless of the design. FLW on the other hand was a visionary, a creator of something fiercely his own, and had the heart, the soul, or maybe just the pig headed-ness to follow his vision and make it real. Too bad his engineering seems to be an after thought at Falling Water and others. A long, long time ago my partner and I got the project to repair the loggia at the Charnley House in Chicago. While not formerly a FLW house - he was working as a draftsman for Louis Sullivan at the time - his early influences are unmistakable and I think prescient of where modern architecture would go. Like someone else said, it's the difference between Art Pepper and Jimmy Hendricks.

Dave Cav
05-29-2019, 9:39 PM
From an eastern perspective Gamble House does seem dark inside because of all the wood and the subdued plasterwork and the weak lighting. But a dim interior is appropriate to the location where the sun blazes in a light blue sky and clouds are rare. A dim interior is a relief to the eyes and a relief from the heat. Natural lighting is more effective there. There are several open air features as well, like the sleeping porches and long views. Also, we should excuse the weak lighting given that electric lighting was pretty new and rare outside of built up areas. People were accustomed to dimmer interiors.

If we could get them to come to Pennsylvania today, G & G would build something quite different.

Yes, the lighting levels in the Gamble House would be perfectly normal for anyone living in the early 20th century, and would actually be pretty bright for someone in the late 19th century used to lamp light. In addition, the GH is kept dim now on purpose to keep the textiles and furniture from fading.

If you're ever in southern California a trip to Pasadena for a Gamble House tour and a drive by of the other homes in the neighborhood is well worth it. I've done a couple of tours, the regular one, plus an "inside the ropes" tour hosted by Jim Ipekijan, and I'd like to go back and do the latter again some time.

Frederick Skelly
05-29-2019, 9:46 PM
While on the tour the Docent told us the contractor installed the prestressed concrete beams upside down and concealed the fact from FLW until the project was nearly done and already exhibiting signs of sagging.

I think the docent may have had bad data. The structural engineer who wrote the scientific american article doesnt say anything about that. He said the beam sagged a couple inches as soon as they took off the concrete forms. When the apprentice on site called back to Taliesin with an "uh oh", one of FLW's engineers is reported to have said he forgot to include something. The article also said a local engineering company disagreed with the FLW calculations and ordered twice as many reinforcing bars be added to the beams. The article posits that the house would have collapsed had they not done so. It's an interesting read for sure. (Post 32 has links that will get anyone interested to the article.)

Fred

Mel Fulks
05-30-2019, 2:42 AM
Maybe FLW is being bad-mouthed...and maybe he didn't go after a clients wife. SHE went after him and was bigger than
he was!

Alan Caro
05-30-2019, 7:42 PM
Tom Bender,

I've never visited Fallingwater, but have been in the Hollyhock House in Hollywood- recently restored, and another texture block FLW house: La Miniatura- which is not that far from the Gamble House, the Price Tower in Oklahoma, and the Guggenheim, NYC. The Gamble house is in an area with several Greene and Green houses - there are four within a short distance and another couple, including one of the their masterpieces, the Blacker House, not far away. I used to live quite near the Gamble House, and I've also seen the James House in Big Sur, CA in the early 80's when the original owners of 1931 still lived there, and Charles Greene's studio in Carmel, CA. In my view, the James House is one of the greatest houses in the World; it's a handmade, organic sculpture that grows out of the Big Sur cliffs. I was lucky to see Greene's studio - which is never open to the public- with Randall Makinson, who wrote the book on G&G and it's an experimental jewel- amazing bas-relief woodcarving that Charles did himself.

If I were to characterize Falling Water and the Gamble House:

Falling Water: FLW's fantastic cubist site response, epic, forceful, and a monument to FLW's invention and compositional genius. However, all the texture block houses to me seem strangely heavy, grey, and confining. I admire them, but they're hard, cold, machine and and museum-like: nothing in a FLW can be changed- personalized, without spoiling the art piece. -And, I wouldn't want to live in a FLW house. That the problem with modernist starchitects; they think you should be happy prisoners to their artistic genius.

By contrast, the Gamble House, and other G&G houses, which are British Arts and Crafts, a wisp of Art Nouveau- the Greene's knew how to make a beautiful curve- and traditional Japanese architecture-inspired are wooden puzzle boxes, there's a great sense of peace and repose, plus that glow of a sensitive, artistic human touch to every surface. I can live there. I had a friend in Pasadena in the 80's whose mother knew the Gambles in 1913 and played in the Gamble House. She said it felt like more like a home than her own house. I can't even image a child in a FLW House.

I designed a number of houses in Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, Malibu, Marina del Rey, Venice CA and a set of spec houses in Redwood City in the Bay Area that were modern, but with the G&G in mind, plus a little Lutyens, Voysey- another A&C architect, sort of the English Greene, and Charles Rennie Makintosh around the edges too. By the way, that's a great pity about Makintosh's Glascow School of Art burning and near total loss; as big or bigger a disaster to architecture than Notre Dame, which by contrast has every possibility of recovery. Similar to Notre Dame, the School of Art burned while it was being rebuilt, after a lesser fire.

Those are two very good contrasting houses that force a person to come to terms with what they think constitutes a home.

I really recommend looking up images of Charles Greene's James House in Big Sur- that's the house with everything.

Alan Caro

Frederick Skelly
05-30-2019, 8:36 PM
As much as I love Fallingwater, I agree it that the interior spaces are NOT "warm". I think it would be an impersonal place in which to live. I'm not sure I'd live there.

But dang, it's a beautiful exterior design and - to my eye - it is perfectly sited. I fell in love with the look of the place.

Bill Neely
05-31-2019, 2:15 AM
My father in law was an apprentice for FLW from 1934 until he went out on his own in 1948. He built the models for the Guggenheim and the Johnson Wax building. I think the craftsman stuff is amazing but not in the same league with the later FLW stuff. FIL supervised the construction of the only Wright home in Oregon which has subsequently been moved to the Oregon Gardens. He was a great guy and lived to be 97.

Edwin Santos
05-31-2019, 8:11 PM
My father in law was an apprentice for FLW from 1934 until he went out on his own in 1948. He built the models for the Guggenheim and the Johnson Wax building. I think the craftsman stuff is amazing but not in the same league with the later FLW stuff. FIL supervised the construction of the only Wright home in Oregon which has subsequently been moved to the Oregon Gardens. He was a great guy and lived to be 97.
What a great story, your FIL is part of history!
Yes, FLW has taken some criticism in this discussion thread, but I think anyone would agree that whether you like his style or not, he is undeniably an icon of architecture. In fact, I'd be very surprised if you can google for a list of the greatest modern architects and FLW wasn't on it.

Mel Fulks
05-31-2019, 8:45 PM
Certainly FLW is on every list of great architects. But who's READING those lists, besides the family of the list makers ?
And his luster is in part burnished by his heroic fictional self ,Howard Roark.

Edwin Santos
05-31-2019, 10:24 PM
Certainly FLW is on every list of great architects. But who's READING those lists, besides the family of the list makers ?
And his luster is in part burnished by his heroic fictional self ,Howard Roark.

Sigh. Okay, how about if I simply say that FLW was a well known, now deceased American architect.
Do we at least agree on that?

Mel Fulks
05-31-2019, 11:17 PM
Sure. But I wasn't slamming ,just saying this is a pretty it's all about us time. And the story of the novel and Wright's
refusal to drawn into any appropriation of himself by Rand is interesting.

Bill Dufour
06-02-2019, 1:52 PM
After seeing the many pictures of FW I realize that almost all of them are taken from the same place. The spot the family wanted the house to be located so they could view the falls from inside. Instead they have to wait for it to rain so they can watch water falling inside the house instead of having to go into the basement to see the creek.
Bill D

Patrick Walsh
06-02-2019, 5:55 PM
The way I see it not everything “most understand” to be practical or functional has to be.

It’s just one angle and not even my opinion to be perfectly honest but I kinda view falling waters much like art for a architect. Maybe it was nothing to do about being practical, nothing about engineering or logic.

Maybe it was simply about someone with a compulsion to create fulfilling a personal need.

Mind you I know nothing of FL other than his properties. I have done no reading on him hence have no real education. But as a creator myself with a strong background in the arts sometime those riddled with the creative bug just have to realize a idea in the physical form vrs just between the ears.

Tom Bender
06-21-2019, 5:00 PM
Thanks Alan for the summary

Robert Cherry
07-21-2019, 10:06 PM
Tom Bender,

I've never visited Fallingwater, but have been in the Hollyhock House in Hollywood- recently restored, and another texture block FLW house: La Miniatura- which is not that far from the Gamble House, the Price Tower in Oklahoma, and the Guggenheim, NYC. The Gamble house is in an area with several Greene and Green houses - there are four within a short distance and another couple, including one of the their masterpieces, the Blacker House, not far away. I used to live quite near the Gamble House, and I've also seen the James House in Big Sur, CA in the early 80's when the original owners of 1931 still lived there, and Charles Greene's studio in Carmel, CA. In my view, the James House is one of the greatest houses in the World; it's a handmade, organic sculpture that grows out of the Big Sur cliffs. I was lucky to see Greene's studio - which is never open to the public- with Randall Makinson, who wrote the book on G&G and it's an experimental jewel- amazing bas-relief woodcarving that Charles did himself.

If I were to characterize Falling Water and the Gamble House:

Falling Water: FLW's fantastic cubist site response, epic, forceful, and a monument to FLW's invention and compositional genius. However, all the texture block houses to me seem strangely heavy, grey, and confining. I admire them, but they're hard, cold, machine and and museum-like: nothing in a FLW can be changed- personalized, without spoiling the art piece. -And, I wouldn't want to live in a FLW house. That the problem with modernist starchitects; they think you should be happy prisoners to their artistic genius.

By contrast, the Gamble House, and other G&G houses, which are British Arts and Crafts, a wisp of Art Nouveau- the Greene's knew how to make a beautiful curve- and traditional Japanese architecture-inspired are wooden puzzle boxes, there's a great sense of peace and repose, plus that glow of a sensitive, artistic human touch to every surface. I can live there. I had a friend in Pasadena in the 80's whose mother knew the Gambles in 1913 and played in the Gamble House. She said it felt like more like a home than her own house. I can't even image a child in a FLW House.

I designed a number of houses in Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, Malibu, Marina del Rey, Venice CA and a set of spec houses in Redwood City in the Bay Area that were modern, but with the G&G in mind, plus a little Lutyens, Voysey- another A&C architect, sort of the English Greene, and Charles Rennie Makintosh around the edges too. By the way, that's a great pity about Makintosh's Glascow School of Art burning and near total loss; as big or bigger a disaster to architecture than Notre Dame, which by contrast has every possibility of recovery. Similar to Notre Dame, the School of Art burned while it was being rebuilt, after a lesser fire.

Those are two very good contrasting houses that force a person to come to terms with what they think constitutes a home.

I really recommend looking up images of Charles Greene's James House in Big Sur- that's the house with everything.

Alan Caro
Alan, I think you nailed it. I visited the Gamble House last summer and I stopped at Fallingwater last week on my way back from Indiana. They are both great in their own way. In both cases, the architects were given free rein to design the entire living space- furniture, rugs, etc. not just the house.

First, Iím surprised there is not more love for the Gamble House on a WWing forum. It is truly an amazing home, exquisitely executed and would be very livable even today. Itís warm, inviting and I can easily envision it being a Ďhomeí for the owners.

Fallingwater is amazing, almost grows out of the landscape as if it were a part of it all along (certainly Wrightís Intent). Itís an architectural tour de force, but not at all homey. Too much stone and concrete, with very little wood, makes it feel somewhat cold and uninviting to me. It was designed as a weekend home for the owners, and they must have liked Wrightís efforts well enough since they hired him two years later to design the guest house just up the hill.

Both houses are cool and interesting in their their own way, but given a choice Iíd take the Gamble House over Fallingwater. Itís more livable in my way of thinking.

Rick Potter
07-22-2019, 10:58 AM
To my simplistic mind:

Falling water was made to look at.

Gamble house was made to live in.

Alan Caro
07-23-2019, 10:57 AM
Robert Cherry,

It's interesting the ways in which modernism tried to redefine everything= start from point zero as they instructed in the Bauhaus, in some cases throwing out millennia of cultural evolution. In extreme cases, a modernist ego, for example on the scale of Wright and Corbusier turned architecture into a personal, aesthetic game and only they could play by their rules perfectly. the genius is so individualistic that only a few can appreciate the artistry. That's why I place craft as high an art as design; craftsmanship can be appreciated through every age and culture- it's a more universal and ageless aesthetic than design.

Fallingwater is genius on so many levels, but in my view as a trained Post-Modernist (I worked for Charles Moore), FW doesn't speak "home" but more as precious, immutable art artwork, just as the Guggenheim says more "multi-story art parking" than "museum" and Breuers's Whitney Museum says something more along the lines of "art bunker". There's room for everything on the spectrum and the World is better for it, but with Wright, I think he had his best phase just before WWI:

The Robie House, Frank Lloyd Wright, Chicago, 1910

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Dimensioned to the 1/8" and looks like a house to me!

Alan

Doug Dawson
07-23-2019, 11:23 AM
The Robie House, Frank Lloyd Wright, Chicago, 1910

413072

Dimensioned to the 1/8" and looks like a house to me!


Does the roof leak?

Alan Caro
07-23-2019, 1:01 PM
Doug Dawson,

As far as I know, the flat roofed FLW buildings did have a strong propensity to leak. Flat roofs were relatively new technology, mostly used on factories with very large open areas. Materials and detailing in the 1930's had not caught up with complex roof designs - a lot of small flat roofs is still difficult to get right However, few of the sloping roofs would leak as they had traditional careful detailing, although with Wright, gutters were forbidden and that caused other trouble. Some of the Prairie houses such the Robie Househ did have problems in that the more extremely cantilevered roofs over porches sagged. As amazing as flat roofs are today, I think it's still safe to say that flat roofs leak far more than sloping, but that's most often due to plugged drains or damage to the roof when large roof top equipment is added, moved. or repaired.

I seem to remember that Wright made a comment to a client- who may or may not have been a family member, to the effect that art- such as his own desiogns is worth considerable suffering. Someone commented about FLW furniture, "It makes me black and blue."

I worked for the Post-Modernist architect Charles Moore and there were quite a number of roof leaking problems and possibly even lawsuits thereto as he liked the roofs without any overhang and was fond of complex forms out of studs and drywall. There was a leak in the ceiling of his own house in Los Angeles- which had a very long sloping roof and he didn't seem to be too bothered.

Charles Moore's House:

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The leak ran from the top (3rd story) of the long sloping roof, all the way to the entry hall at the bottom. The water mark on the ceiling was about 70' long.

These artistic types!

Alan

Rick Potter
07-23-2019, 1:15 PM
I have visited a few Wright houses, and at one we were told that he insisted on designing the furnishings also. The house in question ( can't remember which) was furnished like a bus station...all angular and flat lines....the chairs and sofa reminded me of bus benches. Lots of windows, but no curtains or drapes.

That is why my opinion above mentions one style is to impress, and the other is to live in. One is stark, the other 'cozy'.

No expertise at all, just average guy impressions.

Mel Fulks
07-23-2019, 1:19 PM
Where is the entrance to the Robie house ? And is that the front in that pic? Thanks.

Alan Caro
07-23-2019, 3:44 PM
Mel Fulks,

The plans:

413079

The Robie House is an "upside down" plan; the lower floor - garage level are: Garage, Laundry, Boiler Room, Children's Bedroom. Billiard Room, and the visitors' entry is to the left of the plan at what I think of as the back of the house. The family would probably often go in through a small door on the other short end adjacent to the garage and along a passageway to the stairs.

View of the entry:

413080

The entry is essentially on the back of the house. The Visitors' entry is on the short end, from what most people would think of as the side of the house. Going through the door, there's a 90 degree turn to the right and up stairs that part of what is a big combination of fireplaces and the stairs- almost like a little building inside the house. The view of the long side in the previous post is considered the front of the house. That long side faces a park and having an elevated park view is the reason the plan has the living spaces on the second level.

This house looks quite natural more than 100 years later, but it must have looked like a spaceship had landed when new. There's a famous photo of it under construction with about a 1908 car parked there and the contrast shows why so many people were shocked by his designs when new.

I'm still amazed when I see photos of this house, and several others of the same period just before WWI. I think that period when he was still under the influence of traditional Japanese architecture and the Arts and Crafts movement was his best work. It's not his most dramatic, but the most elegantly subtle.

Alan

Edwin Santos
07-23-2019, 4:40 PM
I for one think the world is better off with architects who take chances and forge into unfamiliar design territory. The results are never going to resonate with everyone, but innovation never does.

I would expect any client that was seeking homey and cozy would not find themselves sitting across the table from FLW, at least not for long.

The world just lost two titans of architecture, both bold visionaries - I.M. Pei and Cesar Pelli.

Alan Caro
07-24-2019, 6:14 PM
Edwin Santos,

I agree completely with the statement that the widest possible expression in architecture is desirable and interesting. There is certainly scope for architecture as pure art, that it's not mandatory to be perfectly practical, nor that it should be appreciated by everyone.

Two architect's whose work I don't always admire in every aspect: Frank Gehry, who I've met, and Zaha Hadid, who I knew as a student in the architecture school I attended, have both created work of intriguing depth and artistry, but also others of, in my view, troubling architectural iconoclasm characteristic of deconstructivism that I would associate with that level level of creative ego. The necessity of believing in one's personal aesthetic- and subverting the past in order to innovate, is to some degree a professional requirement of which Frank Lloyd Wright was the all-time master.

Yes, the loss of I.M. Pei and Cesar Pelli are both saddening as was the too-early loss of Zaha Hadid in 2016.

Alan

Frederick Skelly
07-24-2019, 8:55 PM
Edwin Santos,

I agree completely with the statement that the widest possible expression in architecture is desirable and interesting. There is certainly scope for architecture as pure art, that it's not mandatory to be perfectly practical, nor that it should be appreciated by everyone.

Two architect's whose work I don't always admire in every aspect: Frank Gehry, who I've met, and Zaha Hadid, who I knew as a student in the architecture school I attended, have both created work of intriguing depth and artistry, but also others of, in my view, troubling architectural iconoclasm characteristic of deconstructivism that I would associate with that level level of creative ego. The necessity of believing in one's personal aesthetic- and subverting the past in order to innovate, is to some degree a professional requirement of which Frank Lloyd Wright was the all-time master.

Yes, the loss of I.M. Pei and Cesar Pelli are both saddening as was the too-early loss of Zaha Hadid in 2016.

Alan

Alan, I love it when you bring your expert advice into threads like this. I always learn things. Thank you!

Personally, I'm way too unsophisticated to appreciate Hadid and Gehry. I just looked up both of them. To my eyes, that is some seriously unappealing architecture. It almost looks like they designed it that way just to prove they were smart enough to actually construct a building that complex. And they did! The skill it took to design and build those shapes is astonishing.

Fred

Frank Pratt
07-24-2019, 11:02 PM
And I also have enjoyed this thread immensely. I have trouble expressing myself with words, but many of the comments made here by others have done the job for me. Thanks all.