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World Attention: Fallingwater is Commanding a Greater View

If you could visit the Taj Mahal for the price of a tank of gas, wouldn’t you do it? Smithsonian magazine describes the wondrous Indian monument as both a feat of engineering and a sublime work of art, and the publication applies the same description to a spot that Western Pennsylvanians can tour on an afternoon’s outing.

falling waterThat place is Fallingwater, the architectural gem in Fayette County that Frank Lloyd Wright designed for late department store owner Edgar J. Kaufmann Sr. This month, the magazine included it among the 28 places “people should visit before they die,” a distinction also afforded to the Egyptian pyramids, the Great Wall of China, and the Louvre. The only other American icon that made the list was the Grand Canyon.

Another accolade came this week when the U.S. Department of the Interior announced that the cantilevered, concrete and stone structure tucked over Bear Run is among 10 Wright-designed buildings now eligible for nomination to the World Heritage List.

The list recognizes the world’s most significant cultural and natural treasures and already contains 20 U.S. sites including Yellowstone, the Everglades, the Statue of Liberty, and Independence Hall in Philadelphia.

In reacting to the honor, Lynda Waggoner, director of Fallingwater for the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, made an important point. “Locally, we sometimes forget the global profile of Fallingwater,” she said.

That is certainly true. A recent visitor to Barcelona, Spain, found when residents of that architecturally obsessed city hear the name Pittsburgh, it is Fallingwater—not the Three Rivers or Fort Pitt or even the Steelers—that comes to their minds.

And it’s right here, just 50 miles southeast of Downtown in the Laurel Highlands. This treasure deserves all the honors bestowed upon it, and it surely warrants a visit.

Edited and Reprinted Courtesy of Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Sat., January 26, 2008

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