Date of Award

5-2015

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Historic Preservation

Advisor

Amalia Leifeste

Committee Member

Ralph Muldrow

Committee Member

Kristopher King

Abstract

When observing Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterwork, Fallingwater, few people contemplate the significance of the property’s six finished bathrooms. However, similar themes which underscore the importance and wonder of the overall house itself, such as the use of technological innovation and careful attention to detail, were also employed throughout the bathrooms despite their designation as secondary spaces. This thesis examines these themes via the original process of design and the post-construction treatment of these spaces. In order to do this, architectural drawings, correspondence, family papers, visual observation, oral interviews, related project documents and both Preservation and Maintenance department manuals were analyzed. Through this analysis it was determined that the bathrooms at Fallingwater are significant, but not simply for their association with Frank Lloyd Wright and his widely acclaimed architecture. Rather, an understanding of the bathrooms’ significance was found to be related to the Kaufmann family’s prominent influence over the design of these spaces in addition to the technological and cultural relevancy of these rooms’ features. While Wright did not view the bathrooms as the most important component of the house, and thus allowed their design to be dictated by other parties, this thesis’ contemporary analysis of these spaces asserts that bathrooms play an important role in understanding the time in which they were created as well as the priorities of their creators. As popular interest in kitchens and bathrooms is growing, this research provides a pertinent yet conceptual framework for the necessity and practice of preserving these historically significant spaces. By creating a better understanding of the role these spaces play in the evolution of socio-culture and historic structures, a more effective argument might be made for their proper treatment.

HABS Architectural Drawings.pdf (704 kB)
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