Last summer, Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced that a collection of Frank Lloyd Wright buildings from across the United States will be the next U.S. nomination for inclusion in the World Heritage List. This list maintained by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organizations (UNESCO) honors the most significant cultural and natural treasures worldwide. Of the eleven sites in this Wright portfolio, seven have been restored with Save America’s Treasures funding. Two other Wright projects not on this list have also been also been preserved through this program.
Of the 936 World Heritage sites in 153 countries, 21 are located in the United States. If accepted by UNESCO for World Heritage status, the nominated Wright buildings would join other U.S. World Heritage structures like the Statue of Liberty and Independence Hall, as well as world icons like the Taj Mahal and the Pyramids of Giza. 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 plan for the preservation of the historic qualities of the site. Save America’s Treasures (SAT) awards were critical in repairing, restoring and preserving a majority of these Wright structures so they would meet the World Heritage standards. Standards that are also inherent to Save America’s Treasures—grants and designation that honors and preserves the US’s most significant cultural and historic sites, collections and artifacts.
This collection of Wright buildings are the first modern U.S. buildings nominated, and they epitomize his creative contribution to architecture. His work transformed American design and the public sphere in the 20th century, be it a workplace, house of worship or a cultural or civic institution. In 2008, the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy received a National Endowment for the Arts grant to convene a panel of experts to review some 400 extant Wright buildings and select those that exhibited outstanding universal value and have made a unique and lasting contribution to world culture through architecture. The final list of recommendation were then submitted for inclusion on the United States World Heritage Tentative list, joining thirteen other sites that the U.S. intends to nominate between 2009 and 2019. With the announcement by Secretary Salazar, the Wright World Heritage legacy would include the following collection of buildings:
- Hollyhock (Barnsdall) House (1919-1921) Los Angeles, California (SAT 2009)
- Unity Temple (1905-1908): Oak Park, Illinois (SAT 2008)
- Taliesin West (begun 1938) Scottsdale, Arizona (SAT 2004)
- Frederick C. Robie House (1908-1910) Chicago, Illinois (SAT 2000)
- Taliesin (begun 1911) Hillside, Wisconsin (SAT 1999)
- Fallingwater (1934-1939) Mill Run, Pennsylvania (SAT 1999)
- S.C. Johnson and Son, Inc., Administration Building and Research Tower (1936-1939, 1943-1950) Racine, WI
- Herbert and Katherine Jacobs First House (1936-1937) Madison, Wisconsin
- 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
In addition to the Wright nomination, the prehistoric earthworks site of Poverty Point in Louisiana was selected as the second of the U.S’s. two nominated sites for inscription on the World Heritage list. Of the U.S. sites that are currently World Heritage sites, Mesa Verde National Park (SAT 1999), Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site (SAT 2000), La Fortaleza and San Juan National Historic Site in Puerto Rico (SAT 2001,2009), and Kluane / Wrangell-St Elias / Glacier Bay / Tatshenshini-Alsek (SAT 1999) received Save America’s Treasures grants and designations. For those sites submitted on US Tentative List, the following also received SAT grants and designations: