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[Southeast exterior, stairs to stream & waterfall]
Southeast exterior with stairs to stream & waterfall.
Photo taken from the bridge (from east).
The placid stream becomes a waterfall in the upper-left corner of the pictured portion of the stream. (Some whitewater is visible just under the corner of the terrace.) A stairway, with no supports from below, reaches down to a point just over the stream. The top of the stairway is inside the living room (or great room), and can be accessed through a "hatchway" with sliding glass panels. So people can take a path that flows right down from the main room in the house to the stream itself, echoing the flow of water over the falls. Viewed from the outside of the house, this human "flow" originates from the dramatic catilevered edifice that is the main floor, and can be compared to the water flowing over large rectangular rock ledges. One might also see a connection between the suggestion of flow in the passage down the staircase to the stream to the illusion that the waterfall is pouring out from the house.
      Closest to the camera in this photo is the southeast terrace. Through the glass double doors on either side of the hatchway stairwell is the living room. The trellis above, partly outside (over the terrace), and partly inside (over the living room) adds to the theme of the vertical openness of the hatchway. It is open to the sky, and also extends horizontally into the living room, two of the many suggestions of the continuity of inside and outside.
      Click here for a close-up view from the summer of 2000 of the main floor with stairway to the stream, in which sunlight streaming down vertically through the glass ceiling and glass hatchway is clearly visible on the steps. Click here for another photo taken even earlier.
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The spatial and immaterial values discussed earlier can be illustrated by tracing my own slow discovery of some recondite but powerful elements of Fallingwater's design. These are visible in drawings and photographs, but their actions and interactions are unlikely to be sensed until experienced on the site. To begin with, my father, in examining the plans, questioned the value of steps leading down from inside the living room to the stream. The water was shallow in this stretch, impractical for even a dip. The steps would be extravagant to build and would complicate the structure of the house. Granting this I felt that Wright wanted to keep the main room in touch with the movement and energy of the run, and I pleaded for trust in Wright's intuition. Wright himself considered the steps not so much a proposal as a decision. Eventually my father agreed and the steps were built. Only later I began to think about the steps in conjunction with the glazed trellis above them. Clearly Wright had gone to some length to achieve transparency along a vertical axis here; the eye could look down to the run and up to the sky. Diagonally across the room stood the great, solid chimney wall. I then saw the pair as a column of stone and a column of air making a precinct, and was pleased with the discovery though ashamed of recognizing it tardily.

- Edgar Kaufmann, Jr., Fallingwater: A Frank Lloyd Wright Country House, p. 172.

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