Honoring an Architect
Frank Lloyd Wright’s timeless designs are honored by UNESCO.
By Nickole Byrn
Frank Lloyd Wright is one of the most renowned and respected architects in modern history, thanks to his innovative ideas that helped shape the American landscape.
As a tribute to his legacy, UNESCO has named eight of Wright’s buildings, classified as The 20th Century Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright, to their World Heritage List. The honored structures span a major portion of his career, from 1906, when Wright was at the height of his Prairie style designs, to 1959, the year of his death.
“This inscription recognizes the extraordinary contributions that Wright made to global culture and the development of modern architecture,” says Stuart Graff, president and CEO of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, which oversees Wright’s homes, Taliesin West in Scottsdale and Taliesin in Spring Green, Wisconsin.
Included on the list is local landmark Taliesin West, which was built in 1937 as a second home for Wright and was the meeting place for the Taliesin Fellowship, now the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture.
“These eight sites represent different aspects of Wright’s ideas. They provide an opportunity to see the work of a genius over many decades—and how his work reflected new materials, technologies, owner requirements, social developments and landscapes,” says Graff.
Overall, each of the buildings represented in the inscription demonstrate a shared appreciation for organic architecture that blurred the boundaries between exterior and interior with the use of materials that were unprecedented at the time, such as steel, concrete and desert masonry.
To be selected for the World Heritage List, sites must embody one of 10 categories required by UNESCO. Within that criteria, Wright’s buildings represent an interchange of human values in a cultural area over a span of time using architecture or landscape design.
The list includes more than 1,000 sites around the world, 24 of which are in the U.S., with only one other—the Grand Canyon—in Arizona. In addition to Taliesin West, the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed sites that comprise the collection are Unity Temple (Illinois), Frederick C. Robie House (Illinois), Taliesin (Wisconsin), Hollyhock House (California), Fallingwater (Pennsylvania), Herbert and Katherine Jacobs House (Wisconsin) and Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (New York). (whc.unesco.org)