For Sale: A Frank Lloyd Wright Home With a Waterfall

Houlihan Lawrence
Houlihan Lawrence

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater isn’t the only home designed by the architect to include a waterfall. In the years preceding Wright’s death in 1959, he designed Tirranna, a U-shaped residence in New Canaan, Connecticut. (The name “Tirranna” is an aboriginal Australian word meaning “running waters.”) The house sits next to a pond fed by the nearby Noroton River and overlooks a tiny cascade. Experts say it’s one of around 400 of Wright’s remaining works in America—and now, it can belong to a fan willing to shell out just over $7 million for a piece of architectural history.

Tirranna’s most recent owners were Ted Stanley, a philanthropist and entrepreneur, and his wife Vada, according to The Wall Street Journal. The two purchased the home around 20 years ago, but Vada Stanley passed away in 2013, and Ted Stanley last year. In January, the home was listed for $8 million. It’s still on the market, so its sellers have lowered the asking price to $7.2 million.

Tirranna has seven bedrooms and sits on 15 acres of forest. In addition to the pond and waterfall, the grounds include gardens designed by Frank Okamura, the landscape architect for the Brooklyn Botanic Garden; a tennis court; a barn and a stable; a swimming pool; a greenhouse; a guest house; and a workshop.

The home itself has been renovated, but it still bears all the stylistic marks of a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed abode: gold leaf-covered chimneys, skylights, built-in bookshelves, and floor-to-ceiling glass window that provide sweeping views of the surrounding forest. Originally, it contained Wright-designed furnishings, but many items of furniture were sold by prior owners, so the Stanleys commissioned reproductions after they purchased the property.

View some pictures of Tirranna below, or visit the online listing for more images (or to make an offer!).

Architect Frank Lloyd Wright's “Tirranna” home in New Canaan, Connecticut

Architect Frank Lloyd Wright's “Tirranna” home in New Canaan, Connecticut

Architect Frank Lloyd Wright's “Tirranna” home in New Canaan, Connecticut

Architect Frank Lloyd Wright's “Tirranna” home in New Canaan, Connecticut

Architect Frank Lloyd Wright's “Tirranna” home in New Canaan, Connecticut

Architect Frank Lloyd Wright's “Tirranna” home in New Canaan, Connecticut

Architect Frank Lloyd Wright's “Tirranna” home in New Canaan, Connecticut

Architect Frank Lloyd Wright's “Tirranna” home in New Canaan, Connecticut

Architect Frank Lloyd Wright's “Tirranna” home in New Canaan, Connecticut

Architect Frank Lloyd Wright's “Tirranna” home in New Canaan, Connecticut

Architect Frank Lloyd Wright's “Tirranna” home in New Canaan, Connecticut

Architect Frank Lloyd Wright's “Tirranna” home in New Canaan, Connecticut

Architect Frank Lloyd Wright's “Tirranna” home in New Canaan, Connecticut

Architect Frank Lloyd Wright's “Tirranna” home in New Canaan, Connecticut

Architect Frank Lloyd Wright's “Tirranna” home in New Canaan, Connecticut

Architect Frank Lloyd Wright's “Tirranna” home in New Canaan, Connecticut

Architect Frank Lloyd Wright's “Tirranna” home in New Canaan, Connecticut

All photos courtesy of Houlihan Lawrence.

Why 1 Million People Live in Cold War-Era Bunkers Under the Streets of Beijing

iStock.com/Wenjie Dong
iStock.com/Wenjie Dong

In Beijing, anywhere between 100,000 to one million people live underground in old bomb shelters. Dubbed the shuzu, or "rat tribe," these subterranean citizens occupy a cramped, musty, and windowless world located dozens of feet below the bustling streets of China's capital city. This extensive network of largely illicit bunker housing is unlike anything found in any other major metropolis in the world.

The roots of Beijing's invisible underworld were laid during what could be called the other Cold War. In 1969, tensions between China and the Soviet Union escalated, with the two communist-led countries clashing at the Sino-Soviet border. When Chinese troops ambushed Soviet border guards that year at Zhenbao Island—a disputed territory located in the middle of the Ussuri River separating northeastern China from Russia's Far East—the hostilities turned bloody, prompting both countries to prepare for a possible nuclear attack. In China, Chairman Mao Zedong advised his cities to build nuclear bomb shelters. Beijing responded by constructing approximately 10,000 bunkers.

By the late 1980s, China's government had started to liberalize and tensions with the Soviet Union had cooled, leading the Office of Civil Defense to lease these shelters to local landlords, who in turn began leasing the spaces to desperate migrant workers and young people. For many, living dozens of feet underground in a windowless bunker was the only way to chase their dreams of scaling the social ladder. That remains true today.

It’s a familiar tale: The cost of living in Beijing is high and still rising. With more than 21 million people now calling the city home, it is among the world’s most expensive places to live. The rising cost of rent far outpaces the average person's income, yet people continue to flock to the area because it brims with social and economic opportunity. “[W]ith limited access to public, affordable housing, nuclear bunkers are one of the few feasible options for migrant workers,” Ye Ming writes for National Geographic. A small, shared dorm in a concrete bunker can cost as little as $20 per month.

For many, the central location makes these bunkers worthwhile despite the lack of space and sunlight. As Annette M. Kim, an associate professor of public policy at USC, writes in the academic journal Cities, “[T]he priority for the lower-income, often migrant population in Beijing is for rental housing located in the central city. The ability to walk and/or bike to jobs as well as low rents, both of which allow for the possibility of accumulating savings, is worth making the choice to live in small underground rooms.”

As you might expect from a converted nuclear fallout shelter, the spaces have some of the basics—plumbing, sewage, and electricity—and very little of anything else. There’s no natural light, there's very little ventilation, and most amenities, such as kitchens and bathrooms, must be shared with neighbors. And while Ming reports that local law requires apartments to have at least 43 square feet per tenant, that rule is clearly not enforced. Some apartments might as well be closets.

But as Kim explains, super-dense housing conditions aren't unique to Beijing. “[T]his is not an idiosyncratic situation. History shows that immigrants coped by living in crowded basement units as well as tenements during the west’s rapid urbanization.”

The question is whether that trend should—or will—continue in the future. In 2010, the city announced a ban on residential use of nuclear shelters, but the decree has done little to stop people from making their homes there. “If it is desirable to not allow people to live underground, we are challenged with the task of finding other spaces for roughly a million people,” Kim writes.

For foreigners, it can be difficult to gain access to this underground shelter city. In 2015, the Italian photographer Antonio Faccilongo managed to sneak below, capturing life in the bunkers for a series entitled Atomic Rooms. For a look inside, you can view his work here.

Architect Creates Renderings of Frank Lloyd Wright Designs That Were Never Built

Frank Lloyd Wright designed more than a thousand works in his lifetime, but hundreds of his ideas were never built. One of those was the Gordon Strong Automobile Objective, a tourist attraction commissioned in 1924. Now, thanks to new renderings by Spanish architect David Romero, you can get a better idea of what the proposed project might have looked like had it been completed, as Curbed reports.

Romero is the creator of Hooked on the Past, a project in which he translates plans for Frank Lloyd Wright's unbuilt designs into photorealistic scale renderings. He imports data and plans Wright drew up for the projects into modern modeling software in order to create the most accurate renderings possible of what these structures would have looked like. For the Gordon Strong Automobile Objective images, he collaborated with the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, which recently ran the images in its magazine, Frank Lloyd Wright Quarterly.

A spiraling building on top of a mountain
David Romero

Intended to stand atop Sugarloaf Mountain in Maryland’s Blue Ridge Mountains, the plan for the Gordon Strong Automobile Objective called for a planetarium and restaurant to accompany a scenic overlook. Its developer, wealthy Chicago businessman Gordon Strong, envisioned it as a destination where families would drive for the day from Baltimore and Washington, D.C. The design shifted substantially from draft to draft. In some, it called for a dance hall instead of a planetarium; in another, a theater. He also designed in waterfalls, pedestrian paths, bridges, an aquarium, and a car showroom.

A rendering of a pedestrian bridge
The unbuilt Butterfly Wing Bridge
David Romero

Above all, it was to be a destination for drivers, as the name suggests, and visitors would have driven up to park along its spiral structure—similar to the one that would later come to life in the design of the Guggenheim museum, which Romero looked to as inspiration while translating Wright's failed plans into 3D renderings.

A rendering of a spiral-shaped building at night
David Romero

Romero also painstakingly researched the context and location of the building, including adding era-appropriate cars, traces of rain and dirt on the building, and other details in order to bring the project to life. As a result, at times it can be hard to tell these are illustrations rather than stylized photographs.

Romero has also created similarly detailed renderings of other unbuilt or demolished Frank Lloyd Wright projects, including ones that have long since been destroyed, like the demolished Larkin Administration Building in Buffalo, New York and the burned-down Rose Pauson House in Arizona. You can see more here.

[h/t Curbed]

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