Frank L. Wright and the UNESCO World Heritage buildings

Some of Wright's most important buildings, eight to be exact, have been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Let's find out together which ones.

Eight architectural projects by Frank Lloyd Wright have been selected for inclusion on the UNESCO World Heritage List

“The 20th-Century Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright” is the name under which these projects were brought together. It had already been applied for in 2015, but for some reason, the decision was postponed until yesterday, July 7, when the final verdict was issued. 2019 World Heritage Meeting, is the venue where the eight buildings were proclaimed, underway in Baku in Azerbaijan. 

Wright is considered one of the pioneers, along with Le Corbusier, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, etc. … of the modern movement of architecture.

Here is a list of the eight buildings by Frank Lloyd Wright, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, located in six different American states – Arizona, California, Illinois, Pennsylvania, New York and Wisconsin – in chronological order:

Unity Temple, Oak Park, Illinois (built 1906-1909) 

A building built on the theme of reflection on space and materials. Wright uses and repeats the same form: square plan and cubic volume formed not by walls but by equivalent forms obtained with formworks. The second volume proposes the scheme of the first, changing the general dimension and the ratio of openings.

Frederick C. Robie House, Chicago, Illinois (built 1910)

Conceived as two large rectangles that seem to slide side by side, the long horizontal residence that Wright created for Frederick Robie has boldly established a new form of domestic design: the Prairie style.

Taliesin, Spring Green, Wisconsin (construction 1911-1959)

The house is built with local materials. Local farmers helped Wright move the stone from the nearby yellow limestone quarry, which he then mixed with the sand from the river to create the walls of Taliesin. The plaster for the interior walls was mixed with the Siena, providing a golden hue that reflects the pastoral setting. Taliesin has many architectural elements that have become Wright’s trademark: the cantilevered roofs, the large windows, and the open plan. The architect worked there for the whole time he lived there, about 50 years.

Hollyhock House, Los Angeles, California (built 1918-1921)

Leaning on a 36-acre hill in East Hollywood, the first and best-known West Coast design challenges stylistic categorization. Barnsdall, the client, wanted a residence halfway between home and garden, and inspired the numerous terraces, colonnades and pergolas that unite the interior and exterior spaces of the Hollyhock House. 

Fallingwater, Mill Run, Pennsylvania (built 1936-1939)

It is the flagship of organic architecture of Wright and is considered the best for the architecture of this style, by the American Institute of Architects. Its owners, Edgar and Liliane Kaufmann, were a prominent couple from Pittsburgh, renowned for their characteristic sense of style and taste. A series of “trays” in concrete reinforced with natural rock. The cantilevered terraces of local sandstone blend harmoniously with the rock formations and seem to float above the stream below. Wright has designed an additional guesthouse located on the hill directly above the main house and connected by a covered walkway. 

Herbert and Katherine Jacobs House, Madison, Wisconsin (built 1936-1937)

It is a modest one-storey structure, with the exterior finished in a combination of bricks, horizontal panels and glass doors, the latter open from the back of the house. It is covered by a flat roof and rests on a reinforced concrete foundation. 

Taliesin West, Scottsdale, Arizona (construction commenced in 1938)

The current building includes the winter house, office and school of architecture, all designed by Wright. Acclaimed as one of his masterpieces, this complex expresses Wright’s educational theories and his vision of society, as well as his architectural concepts. The walls are made of rocks and local wood, while he used concrete as a binder. Natural light plays an important role in design. Wright liked natural light and, in this way, the built environment where he found himself with his students, maintained contact with the surrounding nature.

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, New York (construction 1956-1959).

Inside the circle, there is the uphill and downhill route. The trapezoidal septa narrow from top to bottom until they approach the minimum resistance section, then giving way to a circular drum that runs along the outer perimeter of the spiral. On the roof, the partitions are extended so as to form the ribs of the dome that dominates the large empty space.

Text by Elisa Scotti


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