The Conservancy was able to welcome its largest group of Thorpe Fellows to date, who came together with building stewards, scholars and others with a passion for Wright’s work at our 2022 conference in Chicago. Seven fellows, either students or professionals early in their careers in the fields of preservation or architecture, applied for and were awarded free registration 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:

Olivia Breytenbach:

Attending this year’s Annual Conference in Chicago was one of the great high points of my career thus far. Not only did this conference set a very high standard for professional conferences in general, but I also found every conversation with my fellow attendees to be very relevant, eye-opening and memorable.

Wright’s work, as it always is, was fascinating to experience first-hand, and the opportunities made possible through this conference are truly once in a lifetime. Following the week in Chicago, I felt more and more invigorated to contribute to positive change for better heritage awareness, policy, and programming in my hometown. As an architect-in-training, I was inspired to approach every task with the same level of care and consideration that Wright put into all of his works. The outstanding educational sessions and tours further cemented my desire to preserve important works by becoming a heritage architect.

Andrew Campbell:

Ionic columns on a Wrightian building. Yes, you read that right. And yes, they are original to the Frederick and Grace Bagley House.

These kinds of unorthodox design details encapsulated the depth and surprise that often surrounded the subjects and insights of 2022’s “The Progressive City” conference. Moreso than experiencing a handful of amazing buildings made possible by triumphant preservation efforts—which we most certainly did—nonchalant snapshots in time even better illustrate how unique this opportunity was for Thorpe Fellows, and how influential it is for the future of a budding preservation architect like myself.

I have visited some of the more frequented destinations like Fallingwater, Taliesin (both of them), and the Robie House among others, and I’ve loved every single one. However, the privilege of experiencing some of Wright’s earliest works—to witness part of his evolution from Silsbee-influence to the genre-defining work he is known for today—is priceless.

Greg Maxwell:

The Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy put together an amazing program of site visits and lectures that were elucidating and enjoyable. It was wonderful to see a range of Wright’s work, especially as it developed over time. This was not only a fascinating perspective to have gained, but it is helpful in the context of my professional practice as a preservation architect.

Attending the conference has also allowed me to make connections with other preservation professionals and people with an interest and enthusiasm for Wright and his work. It was wonderful to be in such good company. Thank you to the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy for providing such an incredible experience. I am pleased to now be a member of the Conservancy and I look forward to participating in future events!

Patricia Moriel:

I am honored to have had the opportunity to attend the 2022 conference in Chicago. I learned tremendously from my peers and everyone that led the tours. On the way to each tour I was able to learn something new from the people around me. It was an honor to be surrounded by such knowledgeable people from other Frank Lloyd Wright sites. I appreciate the opportunity to have continued to learn more about FLW’s work in Chicago and to have had the rare opportunity to visit homes that are closed to the general public. As a soon to be graduate from WashU I feel refreshed knowing that FLW’s work is being conserved and continues to be a learning experience for everyone that visits his work. Thank you so much for this opportunity, it is an experience I will always remember.

Shivani Rajwade:

It was the most wonderful experience!!!!

I am grateful to have been given this opportunity to witness and experience such wonderful spaces and Architecture and interact with such passionate professionals and advocates at the beginning of my career. As a graduate student in Historic Preservation, it was a great experience to see and hear about the current restoration efforts to preserve his designs and legacy. My personal favourite was the Frederick C. Robie House, I was stunned to see how such an organic form has emerged into this beautiful work of art.

I really enjoyed Chicago and everyone around was so welcoming and inclusive, making it overall a very comprehensive experience for me.

Sudhiksha Srinivasan:

It has been an honour and privilege to have been invited as a 2022 John G Thorpe fellow to attend the conference in Chicago. As an architecture student who has been greatly influenced and studying Wright’s ingenious use of geometry, this has become a highlight in my graduate school career.

Just as the preservation project of the Frederick Bagley house is so aptly named “Finding Wright”, the tours helped me find intriguing design perspectives always sparking creative inquiries of the space. These experiential learnings were not only enhanced but also intensified by the conversations I had with the other fellowship recipients and extremely passionate conference attendees.

Ha Leem Ro:

I want to thank the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy for the opportunity to attend this year’s conference in Chicago as a Thorpe fellow. I enjoyed Chicago and seeing his works in the city, it was certainly a rare treat for a young professional like myself. It was striking to be reminded again of how prolific of a designer Wright was, but I left more awe-stricken by the passion and the enthusiasm of all the amazing individuals who take care and advocate for Wright’s buildings and his legacy.

Thank you to all the professionals and advocates at the conference for showing me what genuine preservation looks like and doing it for us, the younger generation, so we can enjoy Wright’s works and learn from his designs. I feel inspired to continue all your dedication to pass Wright’s legacy and all architectural heritage on to the next.

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, Abbey Chamberlain Brach, curator at Hollyhock House, Ryan Hewson, preservation director at Taliesin, and Todd Morgan, executive director at Preserve Chattanooga, were also able to attend the 2022 conference free of charge.

Posted December 2, 2022