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Vertical wall of glass: 3 stories of floor-to-ceiling windows, west tower.
The soaring vertical tower rises more than three stories, windows stretching from floor to ceiling, creating a continuous column of glass, broken only by narrow steel support beams. The tower serves as a visual and literal anchor for the cantilevered floors and the terraces that extend them further. The windows in the tower, even when closed, suggest relatively little barrier between inside and outside, but they also can be opened at the vertical "corner" where normally a support beam would be, creating an unexpected but pleasing empty space that joins inside and outside, liberated from a boxed-in structure one might expect from architecture involving so many vertical and horizontal faces. In the photo, four pair of windows near the top (3rd floor) are open, but the screens are closed. If the screens are opened also, there is no vertical support beam at the corner.
      At the opposite corner of the house, a glass hatchway opens onto stairs leading down to the stream, and the ceiling above it is glass, the only glass ceiling in the house. Open to the stream below and to the sky above, the two are connected by a vertical "column of air," as described by Edgar Kaufmann, Jr. (Kaufmann's son, who studied with Wright) in his beautifully illustrated, large format book, Fallingwater: A Frank Lloyd Wright Country House. This "column" of openness on one corner of the house suggests a relationship to the west tower (see another view from the second-floor terrace) on the other corner, representing a vertical column of stone and glass, which is "open" along its entire length not only because of the 3 stories of continuous glass, but because these windows can opened at the vertical corner all the way from top to bottom. The vertical lines have their counterpart in bold horizontal lines, such as the the expansive living room as well as the massive cantilevered levels and large terraces that reach out from them. (See also this view of the house from the waterfall).
Original photo, used by permission. Copyright ©
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Wright used only a few elements throughout the house, so that a sense of familiarity soon reassures whoever visits or inhabits it. However, Wright was never content with consistency; he structured the whole western tower block using mutations of his themes. Supported on three sides by stone walls, the floor slabs of this portion of the house do not have parapets. On the contrary they are beveled to meet, but not pierce, the glazing membrane that here - and only here at Fallingwater - becomes a vertical curtain three stories high. This sheer expanse of glass and steel is not treated as a flat facade, but is stepped forward in accord with the angled character of the house. Extending westward from this block is a cantilevered terrace not level with the floor slabs to the east, making clear that the tower interrupts the continuity of the reinforced slab system. The special treatment of the west end of the house is balanced to the east by another mutation: the concrete slabs repeatedly slotted to form the trellis areas over the driveway and the living room.

- Edgar Kaufmann, Jr., Fallingwater: A Frank Lloyd Wright Country House, p. 110.

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