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Register Now! Past, Present, Future: The Conservancy at 25


On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of its founding, the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy will hold its annual conference, Past, Present, Future: The Conservancy at 25, Oct. 29-Nov. 2 in Phoenix, Arizona. This year will be a celebration for the Conservancy, a look back at what the organization has accomplished—and a look ahead.

The headquarters will be the Arizona Biltmore Hotel, considered one of the most iconic and luxurious resorts in the state. Wright was retained by architect Albert Chase McArthur as a consultant on the building, which opened in 1929. After several expansions, many by Taliesin Associated Architects, the core of the original hotel remains substantially intact.

“This is a big year for the Conservancy. When we began to brainstorm ideas for the location of the conference, we knew it had to be someplace that was historically very important for Wright,” says FLWBC Board President Richard Longstreth. “Arizona, site of both Wright’s studio at Taliesin West and a significant number of his midcentury houses, was a clear choice. And the fact that we are able to host the event at the Arizona Biltmore makes it all the better.”

Morning sessions at the conference will offer a rich array of presentations, kicked off with a welcome from Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, who serves as Honorary Chair for the conference. Longstreth, director of the graduate program in historic preservation at George Washington University and recognized as one of the nation’s preservation experts, will moderate a panel on the future of preserving modern architecture. Renowned Wright scholar and Harvard professor Neil Levine will give a presentation on Wright’s career-changing designs for Arizona, built between 1929 and 1959. A panel discussion on saving the David and Gladys Wright House will reveal the backstory of one of the more significant FLWBC-led rescue efforts in recent years, and the following day conference attendees will tour the house. New York Times architecture critic Michael Kimmelman, whose coverage helped bring the struggle to save the David and Gladys Wright House to national and international attention, will present the keynote speech at Taliesin West following a behind-the-scenes tour of the site.

Additional panel discussions will feature first- and later-generation homeowners. “It was important for us to include homeowners in the panels and give them the opportunity to share their experiences commissioning Wright and living in a Wright design,” says conference co-chair and board member Susan Jacobs Lockhart. Lockhart, who grew up in two Wright houses, will moderate a panel featuring original Wright clients and their families. “Many people are surprised to learn that about 70 percent of Wright’s remaining built work is in private hands and used for its original purpose—as a private residence,” says Executive Director Janet Halstead. “The owners of private Wright homes were not only key in the founding of the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy 25 years ago, they play a critical role today in the preservation of Wright’s architectural legacy. They will be an important focus of the conference.” A special dinner meeting also will allow Wright homeowners and the directors of Wright sites that are open to the public to meet and intermingle.

Another panel that should appeal directly to those in the Phoenix and Scottsdale region will focus on the preservation of midcentury modern architecture in Arizona. Scott Jarson, founder of real estate firm azarchitecture/Jarson &Jarson, which specializes in architecturally unique homes, will moderate. “Phoenix and Scottsdale are a dream location for lovers of modern architecture,” says azarchitecture’s Debbie Jarson, who serves as the Phoenix chair for the conference. “In addition to several spectacular Wright sites the conference also will visit an award-winning Sahara-inspired contemporary home by Marwan Al-Sayed, and hold its annual benefit in an amazing home built in 2012 by architect Eddie Jones.”

On Wednesday, Oct. 29, following a pre-conference tour at the Shelters at Taliesin West and the Grady Gammage Memorial Auditorium (which Wright adapted from his unbuilt design for an opera house in Baghdad during the final years of his life), the conference will officially kick off with an opening reception in the courtyard at Optima Camelview Village, architect David Hovey’s AIA Award-winning residential development. “It’s rare to see such a large complex that feels so attuned to nature in the way that Optima Camelview Village is,” says conference co-chair and immediate past FLWBC president Larry Woodin. “Hovey’s design includes 17 acres of roof gardens in an urban desert setting, and it’s one of the most eco-friendly projects in the nation—it’s the perfect place to get attendees energized to talk about and experience Wright’s architecture.”

Other events will travel farther afield: a special reception for Leadership Circle members will be held at the secluded David Dodge House on the outskirts of Taliesin West, and a post-conference tour will journey an hour north of Phoenix to the late Paolo Soleri’s urban laboratory Arcosanti for a private presentation and tour including the Soleri archives, which are rarely accessible to the public.


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