Among the 90 in-person attendees of the Conservancy’s 2021 conference in Buffalo, New York, were four graduate students and young professionals who applied for and were awarded free admission through the competitive John G. Thorpe Young Professionals and Students Fellowship. After the conference, we asked the fellows to reflect on the experience and share thoughts:

Branden Gunn:

Being selected for the 2021 John G Thorpe Fellowship award was one of the highlights of my graduate school career. Not only was it an honor to be named, but attending the Buffalo conference in person opened my eyes to the genius of Wright’s work while introducing me to an amazingly friendly and passionate group of advocates. I appreciate all of the illuminating conversations and I was so impressed by the professionalism and dedication of the Conservancy and its members. As a soon-to-be graduate entering the historic preservation field, I leave the conference feeling renewed in my interest to preserve the legacy of designers like Wright and feel better equipped than ever to convey my passion for architectural heritage.

Thank you all again for the opportunity and I look forward to staying in touch!


Izabela Pieniadz:

It was such a great surprise and honor to be selected as a Thorpe Fellow for the Buffalo conference. I loved having the opportunity to see so many of Frank Lloyd Wright’s buildings outside of Chicago, and I was amazed by the wealth of knowledge and care that each of the current owners has for their properties and homes. As a current graduate student in Historic Preservation it was an invaluable experience to see and hear about the ongoing work that people across the country are conducting in helping to preserve his legacy.

The site visits that were made available to us were such a rare treat and I continue to think back on them fondly. Walking through Wright’s work is truly the best way to experience and feel the intent, and I am so grateful to have been given the opportunity to do that.

I am also so appreciative of being able to meet so many wonderful professionals, advocates and of course, my fellow Thorpe scholars. The morning lectures were such a great opportunity to hear from fellow preservation professionals about current restoration efforts and the adjacent projects that were inspired by Wright’s legacy, and the tours and evening gatherings allowed me a chance to network and expand my professional network and explore potential career opportunities.

Looking back, attending the conference was one of the best highlights of the past two years and I look forward to hearing and learning from my new colleagues in the years to come.


Sierra Beighey:

I am very grateful for the opportunity to attend the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy Conference in Buffalo, NY by the John Thorpe Fellowship. I was excited to learn more about Wright’s work and the approach of interpretation at his sites, and I left the Conference very much satisfied with what I wanted to learn and more. I enjoyed experiencing Buffalo, meeting new people in related professions, visiting Wright sites, and understanding the layers of influence in Wright’s work, and how it has continued to influence other architects as well.

As a graduate student of historic preservation, it is important to understand Wright’s legacy and his impact on architecture, and this conference has made me so much more confident in identifying and validating the relationship between modern architecture and Frank Lloyd Wright. Not to mention, everyone at the conference was so welcoming, kind, and wholesome. I am thankful to have met such amazing people within the four-day conference, including the other Fellows.

Overall, I cannot wait for my ongoing relationship with Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy and supporting the amazing work the organization is doing.


Miranda Black:

I’m extremely honored to have been invited as a fellow to attend the FLWBC 2021 Annual Conference and I deeply enjoyed my time with the group. My week in Buffalo was informative, encompassing, and one of the most fun opportunities I’ve had in my academic career thus far to network with professionals in the field. The combination of education sessions in the morning with site visits in the afternoons provided a comprehensive examination of Wright’s work in New York and surrounding regions.

I regret not knowing John Thorpe personally, but it’s clear that his influence on the disciplines of preservation and architecture is exemplified strongly in the wonderful people who attended this conference with me. I look forward to attending further conferences with the Conservancy and meeting more individuals who are taking Frank Lloyd Wright’s legacy to even greater lengths.


Donations are accepted year-round for the John G. Thorpe Fellowship. You can make a gift in support of the program online here.

Thanks to support from the Keepers Preservation Education Fund, Anna Kaplan, Executive Director of the Graycliff Conservancy, was also able to attend the 2021 conference free of charge.

Posted December 9, 2021