"They are probably the peak of luxurious character in this world!"
Frank Lloyd Wright in a letter to E.J. Kaufmann, 1953
Early in 1999, the promoters of the Pittsburgh Home & Garden Show made the decision to build as the 1999 show's centerpiece "Dream Home" what came to be publicized as "Pittsburgh's greatest un-built residential design of the 20th Century." Forty seven years earlier in 1952, Edgar J. Kaufmann, Sr., the client for whom Frank Lloyd Wright had created Fallingwater, asked Wright to design an apartment building for a steep hillside site on Mt. Washington opposite the Point. Wright's second scheme for the project, a striking triangular tower, was conceived with each floor as a single three thousand square foot apartment. The apartments were planned to be spacious, each offering expansive views of downtown Pittsburgh and the river valleys. Slated to begin construction in 1953, Kaufmann abandoned the project when financial advisors cautioned against the speculative venture on what was then an isolated site.
Planning for the full-scale model construction of a typical unit from this second scheme was initiated in early February. The model was constructed off site, then re-assembled and finished in the David L. Lawrence Convention Center by sixty craftspeople, working in two shifts from 6 a.m. until 11:00 p.m. in the 10 days just before the opening of the 18th Annual Pittsburgh Home & Garden Show on 11 March 1999.
Although construction documents had been assembled for the project in 1953, omissions and other errors required that new drawings be prepared. Like most of Wright's work, this project was rich with built-in furnishings and other custom details. Apprentices to Wright who had worked on the original drawings were consulted to resolve critical details. Former Taliesin Apprentice Gerald Lee Morosco, AIA was entrusted to oversee the construction and to furnish, and decorate the apartment.
Thematically similar to much of Wright's later work, the Point View apartment revealed itself in the model as an exceptional masterpiece in his oeuvre. A spectacular night view rendering of Wright's proposal for the redevelopment of downtown Pittsburgh was enlarged to a 20 x 60-foot photomural, and mounted outside the model's windows representing the 'view' of Pittsburgh as Wright might have envisioned it.
"It is really an emotional experience for me to go in and see that room. It is so beautiful"
Eric Lloyd Wright, Architect and Wright's grandson
at the gala opening on 11 March 1999
The ten-day show attracted international attention and record crowds of more than 350,000 people who, for a brief moment in time, experienced the reality of Frank Lloyd Wright's vision for Mt. Washington.