On July 13, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced that the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy’s group nomination of 11 Wright-designed properties will be the next U.S. nomination recommended for inclusion in the World Heritage List. The list, maintained by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), recognizes the most significant cultural and natural treasures worldwide. Previously, the group Wright nomination was one of 14 sites on the United States World Heritage Tentative List, which identifies those properties that the U.S. intends to nominate sometime during 2009 to 2019.

There are 936 World Heritage sites in 153 countries and only 21 are located in the United States. In order to be included on the World Heritage List, the sites must meet rigorous U.S. and World Heritage criteria, including National Landmark status and a systematic plan for the maintenance and perpetual protection of the historic qualities of the site. If ultimately accepted by the international body, the Wright buildings would join other world renowned and culturally significant landmarks such as the Taj Mahal and the Pyramids of Giza, already recognized for their “outstanding universal value.” U.S. landmarks such as the Statue of Liberty and Independence Hall are included in the list but if the Wright nomination is successful the famous architect’s buildings will be the first modern U.S. buildings listed.

“The buildings of Frank Lloyd Wright are a testament to one of the world’s foremost architectural geniuses,” stated Salazar. “They deserve to be recognized as World Heritage sites.”

Supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Conservancy took the lead in convening a taskforce of eminent and independent Wright scholars to review the approximately 400 extant Wright buildings and select those that exhibit outstanding universal value and have made a unique and lasting contribution to world culture through architecture. The Wright buildings included in the group nomination are:

Unity Temple (1905-1908):
Oak Park, Illinois
Frederick C. Robie House (1908-1910)
Chicago, Illinois
Taliesin (begun 1911) Hillside, Wisconsin
Hollyhock (Barnsdall) House (1919-1921)
Los Angeles, California
Fallingwater (1934-1939)
Mill Run, Pennsylvania
S.C. Johnson and Son, Inc., Administration Building and Research Tower (1936-1939, 1943-1950)
Racine, Wisconsin
Herbert and Katherine Jacobs First House (1936-1937)
Taliesin West (begun 1938)
Scottsdale, Arizona
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (1943-1959)
New York, New York
Price Tower (1952-1956)
Bartlesville, Oklahoma
Marin County Civic Center (1957-1970)
San Rafael, California

Neil Levine, Harvard architectural historian and Wright scholar, also serves on the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy Board and participated in the selection taskforce.

“Each of the Wright buildings represents a separate and outstanding creative contribution to modern architecture and to the history of architecture as a whole,” stated Levine. “Each is given a powerful symbolic form directly expressive of the institution it houses, be it the family, the workplace, the place of worship or a cultural or civic activity.”

Along with the Wright nomination, the prehistoric earthworks site of Poverty Point in Louisiana has also been tapped as the next prospective U.S. nomination. The U.S. may nominate two sites per year.

The Conservancy will develop extensive documentation during the next several months in consultation with the Office of International Affairs of the National Park Service, the principal government agency responsible for implementing U.S. participation in the World Heritage Convention, in cooperation with the Department of the Interior and the State Department. The Department of the Interior will consult with the Federal Interagency Panel for World Heritage when the application is ready to proceed to the stage of formal submission to the international body. UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee could decide in June 2013 or June 2014 to admit the Wright buildings to the prestigious international list.

>> close window