Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel
In the world of architecture, no name is more highly revered than Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959). So, when the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) recently designated eight of his buildings as World Heritage Sites it was cause for celebration.
A design genius inspired by nature to create iconic structures perfectly suited to their environments, Wright designed more than 1,000 structures.
The master builder of the 20th century, Wright changed the idea of how buildings should look with his open concept, unified approach that “brought the outdoors in.” Whether it was a home in the Midwest, the Guggenheim Museum in New York,
or the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, Wright’s innovative style became instantly recognizable.
After starting in Chicago, Wright established his renowned architectural studio Taliesen in Spring Green, Wisconsin, where much of his creative output occurred. The name of the studio is from a character in Welsh mythology.
Honoring Wright’s contributions to the human experience, UNESCO stated that his buildings have “outstanding universal value.”
“The architecture reflects functional and emotional needs; the design is rooted in nature’s forms and principles; the works align with the evolving American experience, while being universal in appeal.”
SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel are Wright admirers and have been lucky enough to see his works – including Hollyhock House (built in 1921) in Los Angeles and the Calori House (1926) in Glendale, CA.
“Hollyhock House is an architectural tour de force,” says Patti. “Massive in scale, it’s built out of hollow clay tiles and wood covered in stucco – revolutionary materials at the time. The walls are decorated with hollyhocks – the favorite flower of oil heiress Aline Barnsdall, who commissioned the house.”
Wright said that the house was inspired by Mayan temples and dubbed its style “California Romanza” – meaning “freedom to make one’s own form.”
Patti also saw the architect’s Taliesin West studio in Scottsdale, Arizona, where Wright spent the winter months. It epitomized his minimalist approach to non-essentials. The “closet” he and his wife shared was just a single rod that could only hold a few garments. Whenever they bought a new article of clothing, they discarded something on the rod to make room for it.
The eight Wright buildings designated as World Heritage Sites are: Unity Temple (Oak Park, IL), Robie House (Chicago, IL), Taliesin (Spring Green, WI), Hollyhock House (Los Angeles), Fallingwater (Mill Run, PA), Jacobs House (Scottsdale, AZ), Taliesin West (Scottsdale), and the Guggenheim Museum (New York).
Like Wright’s Fallingwater house, perched above the flowing waters, each site is unique and impressive in its own way and is well deserving of this highest honor that a cultural landmark can receive.
Representing a time of American growth and endless opportunities, Frank Lloyd Wright was as iconic as his creations.
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