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ecological architecture

Anne Dalke's picture

is a legendary house, designed by the legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright, that is sited over a waterfall about fifty miles south of Pittsburgh. When I finally made the pilgrimage there a few years ago, I was shocked: it seemed like a bunker. Yesterday I read this commentary about the house, in The Pennsylvania Gazette, by equally legendary Louis Kahn (who designed Erdman)--and it made me think about what might constitute "ecological architecture." Kahn is saying, quite poetically, that Fallingwater does not:

"How does the stream feel now that it has a roof over it? How do the rocks feel now that they have been drilled into to support those cantilevers? How does the tree feel now that it has a beam curling around it? Do you think it will live? And that stair down into the water suspended on rods. He won't touch the water but he puts a roof over it. And he cuts the rock to put a sheet of glass through it so that that window looks like it goes through the rock....

Do you think you can make a rock a window mullion? A rock is made from the stars, and he makes it into a window frame....He leave the rocks poking out of the stone floor, clever isn't he? But the rock was outside and now it is inside. The rock would walk out to the outside if it could....."

[Kahn's Erdman, on the other hand, makes no pretense of ecologicity....]