Fallingwater, Seven Other Frank Lloyd Wright Buildings Now Inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List
July 7, 2019
This Series of Wright-Designed Buildings Represents First Modern Architecture Designation in the U.S.
Pittsburgh, Pa. — July 7, 2019 – The World Heritage Committee, meeting in Baku, Azerbaijan, has officially inscribed The 20th-Century Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright, which includes Fallingwater and seven other major works spanning 54 years of Frank Lloyd Wright’s career from 1905-1959, to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage List.
Wright is widely considered to be the greatest American architect of the 20th century. The eight Wright-designed sites in this serial nomination are located in six states across the United States. They are Unity Temple (designed 1905, constructed 1906-1909–Oak Park, Ill.), Frederick C. Robie House (designed 1908, constructed 1910–Chicago, Ill.), Taliesin (begun 1911, constructed 1911-1959–Spring Green, Wis.), Hollyhock House (designed 1918, constructed 1918-1921–Los Angeles, Calif.), Fallingwater (designed 1935, constructed 1936-1939–Mill Run, Pa.), Herbert and Katherine Jacobs House (designed 1936, constructed 1936-1937–Madison, Wis.), Taliesin West (begun 1938–Scottsdale, Ariz.) and Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (designed 1943, constructed 1956-1959, New York, N.Y.).
There are more than 1,000 World Heritage sites around the world, and the group of Wright sites is now among only 24 sites in the U.S. Fallingwater is one of only two Pennsylvania World Heritage sites, joining Independence Hall in Philadelphia.
These eight inscribed sites, which represent the first U.S. modern architecture designations on the World Heritage list, have played a prominent role in the development and evolution of modern architecture during the first half of the 20th century and continuing to the present.
UNESCO considers the international importance of a potential World Heritage Site based on its “Outstanding Universal Value,” which in the Wright series is manifested in three attributes, as outlined in the nomination. First, it is an architecture responsive to functional and emotional needs, achieved through geometric abstraction and spatial manipulation. Second, the design of the buildings in this series is fundamentally rooted in nature’s forms and principles. Third, the series represents an architecture conceived to be responsive to the evolving American experience, but which is universal in its appeal.
The nomination effort was spearheaded by Director Emerita of Fallingwater Lynda S. Waggoner, who is also a founding board member of the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy, an international organization dedicated to the preservation of all of Wright’s remaining built works and the coordinating entity for the World Heritage nomination.
“We could not be more delighted with the inscription of these eight sites to the UNESCO World Heritage List,” said Waggoner. “In many ways the recognition of the contribution of Wright to world architecture exemplified by these eight buildings is long overdue. These works sum up modern architecture in their open plans, abstraction of form, use of new technology, connection to nature and ability to adapt to modern living. I’m convinced that without Wright our architecture today would be very different.”
The Wright nomination has been in development for nearly 20 years, a coordinated effort between the FLWBC, each of the nominated sites and independent scholars, with a substantial financial commitment realized through subsidies and donations, countless hours donated by staff and volunteers, and the guidance and assistance of the National Park Service. Fallingwater staff also contributed support and expertise in the nomination’s preparation.
“This recognition is a tremendous honor, one reserved for the world’s most treasured places,” said Vice President of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy and Director of Fallingwater Justin W. Gunther. “I offer our sincerest thanks to the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy, National Park Service, partner sites, and elected officials for all their efforts throughout the nomination process.”
Fallingwater, designed by Wright in 1935, is owned, operated and preserved by the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy and has been open to the public as a museum since 1964. Fallingwater is designated as a National Historic Landmark and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Treasure.
“Equally as meaningful is the profound influence buildings like Fallingwater can have in enhancing our understanding of the environments we live in today, and the ones we are planning for the future,” Gunther added.
The FLWBC will now coordinate the activities of the Frank Lloyd Wright World Heritage Council, chaired by Waggoner, which was established to support the responsible conservation and promotion of the eight World Heritage sites.
About the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy and Fallingwater:
The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy (WPC) enhances the region by protecting and restoring exceptional places. A private nonprofit conservation organization founded in 1932, WPC has helped to establish 11 state parks, conserved more than a quarter million acres of natural lands and protected or restored more than 3,000 miles of rivers and streams. The Conservancy owns and operates Frank Lloyd Wright Fallingwater, which was donated to WPC in 1963 and symbolizes people living in harmony with nature. In addition, WPC enriches our region’s cities and towns through 132 community gardens and other green spaces that are planted with the help of about 11,000 volunteers. The work of the Conservancy is accomplished through the support of more than 9,000 members. For more information, visit WaterLandLife.org or Fallingwater.org. Join the conversation with Fallingwater on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
About The Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy:
The Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy is a nonprofit organization founded in 1989 to facilitate the preservation and stewardship of the remaining structures designed by Frank Lloyd Wright through advocacy, education and technical services. The staff and a corps of dedicated and knowledgeable board members and volunteers accomplish the Conservancy’s mission through strategic initiatives that include advocating against demolition and neglect of Wright structures, providing access to expert technical conservation and restoration resources, connecting preservation-minded buyers and sellers of Wright properties, advancing original Wright scholarship through SaveWright magazine, and honoring those who demonstrate extraordinary efforts in stewardship of Wright’s legacy through the Wright Spirit Awards. For more information, visit SaveWright.org.
Senior Administrator of Special Projects, Fallingwater
Director of Communications, Western Pennsylvania Conservancy