Lecture: The philosophy behind the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright: Narrator: Listen to part of a lecture in an architectural history class. Professor: So, we'll be examining the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright and the philosophy behind his designs. For Wright, the idea for each building structure had to evolve from and be in harmony with its site, unique geographical quality of this environment. This would be the essence of a philosophy he developed called organic architecture. Out of all his buildings he designed, perhaps the most significant embodiment of that philosophy is the building called Fallingwater. Here it is. The Fallingwater is located on a steep wooded site and you can see it's actually positioned on the bank of a stream above the waterfall. The huge kind of the black boulders you see there? The water froze over them and above that are balconies that extend from the house. You can walk out onto them. Both the floor and the sides of the balcony are concrete. So given Wright's approach, how did the environment, nature, typically come to play a role in this historical residence? Well, the first way was the source for the building materials. Wright wanted the house to feel as if it was growing out of the very landscape that surrounded it. Consequently, all of the supporting walls were built using local stones from a quarry right open specifically for the house only 500 feet away. And those local stones were also used on the floors inside the house. And with stung, well, nature served another role. It actually provided the physical foundation for the overall structure. You see, rather than building a foundation, Wright designed Fallingwater so what it rests on is actually anchored by several boulders on the stream bank. And one of those gigantic stones actually rises up and through the middle of the living room. Female Student: So it actually comes through the floor? Professor: Yes. Wright chose to keep that one visible. A powerful way he concisely brought the outside in and made it a focus. The boulder serves as a constant reminder of nature's power and presence. Male Student: Okay, but if we're talking about nature's role, I mean, I'm really amazed by the effect of the big balconies, but they're made of concrete. What's natural about that? Professor: True. But that brings us to another influence of nature as visual inspiration. What do the balconies remind you of? Think about the imagery that's created here. Male Student: Well, now that I think about it, visually they do create an effect that ... I mean, the balconies are long, rectangular, and flat. And they're kind of stacked, like those slabs of rocks beneath them. It's like they mimic or mirror the rocks that the waterfall spills down over. Professor: Yes, and Wright was intent on creating effects like that. Another example, I mentioned the stone floors. Those floors have an uneven textured surface. They're waxed and highly polished so they're shiny and reflective. This achieves an intriguing effect. Inside the house it actually looks as though there's moving river water running over the floor stones. Female Student: Well, the building's name is Fallingwater. Professor: Exactly right. So again, it's nature's role as the visual inspiration. Now, I'm glad you've brought up the balcony because let's move our focus to nature as an obstacle. Wright really had to work against the force of gravity here. Those heavy concrete balconies extend out well behind the house, an incredible amount of weight to support. To address this, Wright used reinforced concrete. Female Student: Reinforced? Professor: Yeah. Steel rods were placed inside the concrete of the balcony floors for strength. Fairly common now, but at that time Fallingwater was completed in 1967, this was a relatively new experimental technology. Now, over the past 70 years, reports have surfaced that the lead engineer infuriated Wright by insisting that the number of steel bars be doubled; twice as many steel bars as Wright had planned. However, the outcome of this theory wasn't confirmed until recently with the use of radar. It looks like the engineer won after all. And according to structural experts who actually had to make repairs to the building, it was a good thing because that single decision has made a huge difference in the balcony's longevity. Female Student: You say repair, what had to be done? Professor: Most people aren't aware of the fact that a lot of work has been done to address water problems throughout the house. Wright didn't install adequate drainage for all those horizontal surfaces. I mean, as I see it, Wright celebrated water and incorporated its beauty, but he should've taken full consideration of its strength.