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Annual Conference

Turkel House photo by James Haefner

Frank Lloyd Wright & the American City Today

September 25 – 29, 2024

Detroit, Michigan

Westin Book Cadillac Detroit

As Wright’s conceptions of “The Living City” developed across the decades, he came to see the automobile and modern means of communication as tools to rethink the historical tension between the city and the suburbs in American life. Detroit and our experiences with its urbanized landscape offer us a chance to examine the relationships of Wright’s work and legacy to historical and contemporary issues of American landscapes, cities and suburbs through a critical lens.

Come together with preservationists, owners of Wright-designed houses, administrators of public sites, architects, scholars, restoration specialists, and design enthusiasts from around the world for five days of educational talks, evening celebrations, and tours. We’ll visit six Wright-designed buildings, as well as works by Eliel and Eero Saarinen, Paul Rudolph, Alexander Girard & more – many not regularly open to visitors. The gala will raise support for our mission and celebrate the  recipients of the 2024 Wright Spirit Awards.

Detroit Month of Design

Thanks to this year’s Presenting Partner, TAWANI Property Management. Click here to meet our sponsors >>

This conference is an official part of the Detroit Month of Design festival.

We hope you’ll join us in Detroit!

2024 Conference Committee
Lisa DiChiera, Detroit Historic Designation Advisory Board
Audra Dye, City of Detroit
Tanya Gazdik, journalist & native Detroiter
Tim Quigley, Quigley Architects
Norm Silk & Dale Morgan, Turkel House & Blossoms
Ilene Tyler, architect, author, preservationist
Greg Wittkopp, Cranbrook

Registration is currently open exclusively to Conservancy members, who should have received the registration link via email. Registration will become available to the general public via this page on June 17. The Pre-Conference Tour (September 25) is waitlisted. Please email [email protected] to join the waitlist.

Schedule at a Glance

This is an outline of the current conference schedule. All times EDT. This schedule is under active development and all details, including event times, are subject to change. Events take place at the Westin Book Cadillac Detroit unless otherwise noted.

Wednesday, September 25

9 a.m. Pre-Conference Tour: Ann Arbor area: Bandemer House, Metcalf House, Palmer House & more
5:30 p.m. Opening Reception: Book Tower
TBA
Silent auction bidding opens online

Thursday, September 26

8:30 a.m. Conservancy Annual Meeting
9 a.m. Conference Talks
11:45 a.m. (approx.) Conference Tours: Hawkins Ferry House, Koebel House, McClucas House & Parcells House
6:30 p.m. (approx.) Leadership Circle: Ford Piquette Avenue Plant

Friday, September 27

9 a.m. Conference Talks
12 p.m. (approx.) Conference Tours: Turkel House & more
6:30 p.m. Homeowners & Public Sites Dinner

Saturday, September 28

9 a.m. Conference Talks at Cranbrook (transportation provided from hotel)
12 p.m. (approx.) Conference Tours: Affleck House, Cranbrook, Saarinen House & Melvin and Sara Smith House
6 p.m. Silent Auction Reception
7:15 p.m. Gala & Wright Spirit Awards
Silent auction bidding closes online

Sunday, September 29

9 a.m. Post-Conference Tours (two options):
–Okemos: Broad Museum, Goetsch-Winckler House & Schaberg House
–GM Tech Center

Conference Event Details

The schedule remains under active development and will be updated as additional details are confirmed. All programs, tours and times are subject to change. All times given are Eastern Daylight Time (EDT), and all tours depart from and return to the Westin Book Cadillac Detroit. Registrants will receive a final schedule prior to the conference.

Pre-Conference Tour

Wednesday, September 25 · 9 a.m.
Available to add to both General & A La Carte Registrations
Waitlisted; please email [email protected] to join the waitlist

Our Pre-Conference Tour will venture west to the Ann Arbor area to see Wright’s Palmer House (1950), which has never before been toured in a Conservancy event. We’ll take in other notable Modernist houses including the Bandemer House (James Livingston, 1953), the Metcalf House (Robert Metcalf, 1953), and more. Lunch & transportation included.

Exterior of Palmer House at dusk showing horizontal roof, massive brick walls with light coming through openings, and stairs up to an entrance Interior of Palmer House showing expansive vaulted wooden ceiling, fireplace, Wright-designed furniture, and red concrete floor Interior of Palmer House showing expansive vaulted wooden ceiling, wall of windows, Wright-designed furniture, and red concrete floor

Palmer House photos by James Haefner

Opening Reception

Book Tower, Conservatory Ballroom
Wednesday, September 25 · 5:30 p.m.
Included in Core Registration · Available A La Carte

Our conference opens in an instantly-recognizable icon of downtown Detroit’s ongoing renaissance. Commissioned by the Book brothers, Book Tower was designed by architect Louis Kamper, and when it opened in 1926, it was the tallest structure in the city. A recent major restoration and renovation brought modern amenities to the century-old design, creating stunning spaces such as the Conservatory Ballroom, where we will kick off the conference.

Interior of Conservatory Ballroom at Book Tower, featuring glass atrium ceiling, chandeliers, and elegant round dining tables Looking up through glass roof of Conservatory Ballroom towards the ornate exterior of the Book Tower, with chandelier in the foreground Ornate golden clock held up by three cherubs, and other ornamental ceiling details inside Book Tower

Book Tower photos courtesy of Anthology Events

Annual Meeting

Westin Book Cadillac Detroit, Woodward Ballroom AB
Thursday, September 26 · 8:30 a.m.
Included in Core Registration · Available A La Carte (as part of Conference Talks)

The executive director and board president will provide an overview of the Conservancy’s work over the last year. The 2024 Thorpe Fellows will be introduced. A vote will be taken on the proposed slate of new Board members.

Conference Talks

Westin Book Cadillac Detroit, Woodward Ballroom AB (except Saturday which will take place at Cranbrook; transportation provided from hotel)
Thursday, September 26 through Saturday, September 28 · 9 a.m.
Included in Core Registration · Available A La Carte

The Conservancy’s Theme & Speakers Committee has organized two mornings of talks that explore the themes identified in the call for papers.

Thursday, September 26:

  • The Global Architect and Detroit: Inspiration, Repulsion, and Experimentation
    Kevin Adkisson, Curator, Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research
  • Usonian Detroit: Capital of the 20th Century
    Robert Fishman, Emeritus Professor of Architecture and Urban and Regional Planning, University of Michigan
  • What Happened to the Detroit Cooperative Homesteads?
    Dale Allen Gyure, Professor of Architecture and Department Chair, Lawrence Technological University

Friday, September 27:

  • Ambivalent Urbanism: Wright, Detroit, and the Civic Imagination
    Don O’Keefe, Architect, urban designer, writer
  • Reading Lafayette Park in the Context of Broadacre City
    Gregory M. Brewer, Independent historian
  • Frank Lloyd Wright & Detroit, Michigan: Lessons for Sustainable Urban Design & Social Equity in the Built Environment
    Nicole Hall, Associate Dean of Graduate Studies and Faculty Lecturer, School of the Art Institute of Chicago
  • City of Detroit Panel Discussion
    • Michele Flournoy, Lead Planner, Planning and Development Department
    • Dan Reiden, Lead Landscape Architect, Planning and Development Department
    • Tepfirah Rushdan, Director, Office of Sustainability
    • Moderators:
      • Jennifer Gray, Vice President and Director of the Taliesin Institute, Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation
      • Ayad Rahmani, Professor of Architecture, Washington State University

Saturday, September 28:

Saving Wright Homes: Case Studies on the Effects of Urban Development

The Homeowners Committee will present three case studies of Wright homes that are, or have been, endangered by the effects of urban change and development: Mathews House (Atherton, California; 1950), Sweeton House (Cherry Hill, New Jersey; 1950), and Walser House (Chicago, Illinois; 1903). Without intervention, these important works face the real risk of being lost. Confirmed speakers will be announced soon. This morning of talks will take place at Cranbrook. Transportation from the hotel will be provided for those with Core Registration; A La Carte registrants are responsible for their own transportation.

Coffee and tea will be available each morning. Talks will conclude by approximately noon each day. Conference talks will be recorded, and the recordings will be made available to Conservancy members in the Digital Member Lounge.

Exterior view of Cranbrook Art Museum with circular fountain with human figures in it in foreground, museum building's iconic colonnade in background with tan brick museum building stretching out to left and right

Cranbrook Art Museum photo by James Haefner, courtesy Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research

Conference Tours

Thursday, September 26 through Saturday, September 28 · Approx. Noon each day
Included in Core Registration · Not available A La Carte

Tours depart from the Westin Book Cadillac Detroit after the conclusion of each day’s talks (except Saturday, when tours begin after morning talks at Cranbrook). Transportation and lunch are included.

Thursday, September 26:

Our Thursday tour program will center on the notable Modernist residential architecture of the “southern Pointes”, the lakefront suburbs east of downtown Detroit.

  • Hawkins Ferry House (William Kessler & Carl Johnson, 1964)
  • Koebel House (Eliel & Eero Saarinen, 1940)
  • McLucas House (Alexander Girard, 1950)
  • Parcells House (Paul Rudolph, 1970)
Exterior elevation view of Koebel House showing green lawn, a one-story curving brick wing to the left, curving brick wall in the foreground, and main mass of brick house with lights coming through the windows Exterior elevation of Hawkins Ferry House with a floating white flat roof on slender columns, and a glass and steel volume showing artwork on the interior View of yellow brick wall at McLucas House that passes from an interior space past a sliding glass door to an exterior courtyard with vines and a fountain

Top: Koebel House; bottom left: Hawkins Ferry House; bottom right: McLucas House photos by James Haefner

Friday, September 27:

The Friday tour will highlight significant architecture and restoration projects within the City of Detroit proper. We’ll enjoy a visit to the Wright-designed Turkel House (1955) in the Palmer Woods neighborhood. Since the last Conservancy conference in Detroit, this rare Usonian Automatic design has been lovingly restored – and enlivened with lush landscaping and beautiful artwork. Additional tour sites will be announced soon.

Exterior view of Turkel House at dusk showing lush gardens, and light glowing through the glass and concrete wall of the house to the left Interior view of two-level space in Turkel House, with wood-paneled wall to left, concrete ceiling, and wall of concrete and glass blocks to the right, with ample artwork Turkel House exterior showing concrete block units, both as a ceiling as well as walls with embedded glass, and a row of ferns.

Turkel House photos by James Haefner

Saturday, September 28:

After the conclusion of morning conference talks, which will take place in the auditorium at the Cranbrook Art Museum on Saturday, we will embark on tours of several outstanding buildings on or near the Cranbrook campus:

  • Affleck House (Wright, 1941)
  • Kingswood School (Eliel Saarinen, 1931)
  • Saarinen House (Eliel Saarinen, late 1920s)
  • Melvin & Sara Smith House (Wright, 1949)
Exterior of Smith House terrace showing artwork, wood and glass doors in a sawtooth pattern stepping back along terrace, and dramatic overhanging wooden cantilevered eaves Exterior of Affleck House in wooded hillside setting at dusk, with light glowing out from horizontal band of windows/doors above wooden balcony, under flat roof. Interior of Affleck House showing wooden ceiling, red concrete floor, and red brick fireplace to right

Top: Affleck House photos by James Haefner, courtesy of Lawrence Technological University; bottom: Melvin & Sara Smith House photo by James Haefner, courtesy Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research

Interior at Saarinen House showing a round wooden table under a golden circle in ceiling with pendant light, colorful tapestry on wall to left, wood panel wall visible to right Interior of Saarinen House library with two chairs facing a table in center, bookshelves behind each chair, and a window wall beyond Interior of a large space at Kingswood School under a white ceiling, with a row of art glass clerestory windows below on each side, a tapestry at the far end on the wall, and tables on the wood floor below

Top and bottom left: Saarinen House; bottom right: Kingswood School photos by James Haefner, courtesy Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research

Leadership Circle

Ford Piquette Avenue Plant
Thursday, September 26 · 7 p.m.
Available to add to both Core & A La Carte Registrations · Exclusively for members at the Leadership Circle level & above

Members of the Leadership, Clerestory and Visionary Circles are invited to an exclusive dinner at the Ford Piquette Avenue Plant, birthplace of the Model T. Situated in the Milwaukee Junction neighborhood, where the first pages of Detroit’s automotive history were written, the 1904 Ford Piquette Avenue Plant is the world’s oldest purpose-built car factory open to the public. Join us amid the 65 rare & immaculately-preserved vehicles in this National Historic Landmark as we celebrate our first gathering in the Motor City in nearly two decades. Transportation will be provided.

If you already registered for the conference and would like to add the Leadership Circle dinner to your registration, or would like to upgrade your membership to attend this event, please call the office at 312.663.5500. To join at the Leadership Circle level or above, click here >>

Exterior of red brick factory building with corbelling at the roof line and a black sign, with a black vintage car driving on the street in front. Looking through an archway in the factory and focused on a row of columns in the distance, with a number of vintage car front-ends visible between the columns. Interior of factory building looking towards a painted white brick wall with an arched doorway, and a vintage car on the other side, red with black roof.

Photos courtesy of Ford Piquette Avenue Plant Museum

Homeowners & Public Sites Dinner

Westin Book Cadillac Detroit, Woodward Ballroom CD
Friday, September 27 · 6:30 p.m.
Available to add to both Core & A La Carte Registrations · Exclusively for Wright homeowners & public site representatives

Join us for an evening with fellow Wright homeowners and public site staff from across the country—the only gathering of its kind. Reception begins at 6:30 p.m. EDT, with dinner to follow. There will be a short program featuring:

  • Greg Wittkopp, Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research (Melvin & Sara Smith House, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan) will speak about the development & launch of Cranbrook’s Digital Collections Database featuring Smith House artifacts
  • Mollie Pratt Singh, a docent at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Laurent House (Rockford, Illinois), will speak about growing up in the Pratt House at The Acres (Galesburg, Michigan)

Supported by Marsha & John Shyer (Brandes House) and Anne Smith Towbes (formerly of the Melvin & Sara Smith House).

Silent Auction Reception

Westin Book Cadillac Detroit, Venetian Ballroom
Saturday, September 28 · 6 p.m.
Included in General Registration · Available A La Carte (as part of Gala)

Mingle with conference attendees to enjoy drinks and hors d’oeuvres while you browse select silent auction items.

Supported by Safina Uberoi & Lukas Ruecker (Bagley House & Tonkens House).

Gala & Wright Spirit Awards

Westin Book Cadillac Detroit, Venetian Ballroom
Saturday, September 28 · 7:15 p.m.
Included in Core Registration · Available A La Carte

Celebrate the extraordinary achievements of the 2024 Wright Spirit Award honorees at an elegant gala dinner, underwritten by Ron and Jan Scherubel. We’ll share highlights from the Conservancy’s online silent auction, which will close after the conclusion of the gala. If interested in purchasing a block of 3 or more gala tickets, please contact the office at [email protected].

Group of 2023 Wright Spirit Award winners posed against a black backdrop

2023 Wright Spirit Award honorees © Mark Hertzberg

Post-Conference Tours

Sunday, September 29 · 9 a.m.
Available to add to both Core & A La Carte Registrations

There are two post-conference tours, which may be added on to any registration, subject to availability. You may only choose one tour per attendee. Both tours include transportation and lunch, with an optional airport drop no later than the time noted.

GM Tech Center Tour

Eero Saarinen’s first major project after leaving his father’s firm, this complex has served General Motors since 1956 as a location for design and engineering work. It is rarely open to visitors. No phones or cameras will be permitted on this guided tour, and capacity is strictly limited. Optional airport drop no later than 3:30 p.m.

A car showroom interior inside GM Tech Center with a large white illuminated circle on ceiling above a collection of 1960s-vintage cars parked inside, with four men in suits visible standing in the space Exterior aerial view of GM Tech Center campus showing multiple fountains and water basins, a strip of land with trees and walkways running between them, a modernist steel and glass office building on right, water tower and more modernist buildings in distance Interior of cafeteria showing a large, light open space lined with windows on one wall, a waffle-slab ceiling, a round white table in foreground with red bench seats wrapping around it

GM Tech Center historic photos courtesy of General Motors

Okemos Tour

We’ll drive to Okemos to see two Wright-designed houses: the Goetsch-Winckler House (1940) and the Schaberg House (1957), as well as the Broad Museum (Zaha Hadid, 2012). Optional airport drop no later than 5 p.m.

Interior view of Goetsch-Winckler House with light coming through band of clerestory windows above illuminating wood ceiling, bookshelves lining rear wall above couch, and brick fireplace to the left Exterior view of Schaberg House over a green lawn with pitched shingled roof, large squat brick chimney mass sticking up above it, and wall of windows tucked under the overhanging roof Exterior view of Goetsch-Winckler House on a wooded green site with flat roof cantilevering out to left, brick wall, and wall of wood and glass doors.

Top left: Schaberg House photo by John H. Waters, AIA; top right & bottom: Goetsch-Winckler House photos courtesy of Nate Meyer

Register to Attend

Registration is currently open exclusively to Conservancy members, who should have received the registration link via email. Registration will become available to the general public via this page on June 17.

Please read these details carefully before registering.

  • Capacity is limited and events may sell out.
  • Register early to secure your spot. Early bird pricing on Core Registration will be in effect through July 31, after which prices will increase by $50.
  • The online registration form allows a maximum of two attendees per transaction, and you will be asked to provide details about each attendee for whom you are registering.
  • AIA continuing education credit will be sought for all tours and conference talks.
  • Conference talks will be recorded and the recordings will be made available to Conservancy members in our Digital Member Lounge.
  • If you require assistance registering or have any questions, please email [email protected] or call 312.663.5500.

Event Admission types

For each attendee you will select an Event Admission type:

Core Registration is a bundle that includes the Opening Reception, three core days of Conference Talks and Tours, and the Gala. Core Registration does NOT include any of the following special events, which must be added on as event sessions: Pre- and Post-Conference Tours, Leadership Circle, and Homeowners & Public Sites Dinner. If you select a Core Registration, DO NOT add any A La Carte event sessions; they are ALL already included. Early bird rates for Core Registration are in effect through July 31, after which the price increases by $50. The member discount on Core Registration is applied automatically if you are logged in to an account with an active membership. Please note that Friend-level members are limited to one (1) attendee per registration at the discounted member rate.

  • Core Registration – Members: $895 (or $945 after July 31)
  • Core Registration – Non-Members: $995 (or $1045 after July 31)

A La Carte Registration offers more flexible attendance options, and you must select all individual event sessions you wish to attend. A La Carte event session tickets are available for the Opening Reception, the three mornings of Conference Talks, and the Gala. The Pre- and Post-Conference Tours, Leadership Circle Dinner, and Homeowners & Public Sites Dinner are also available a la carte. Note that the three core afternoons of conference tours are NOT available through A La Carte Registration.

Event Sessions

The following events may be added to either Core or A La Carte Registrations:

  • Pre-Conference Tour (9/25) – $295. WAITLISTED; please email [email protected] to join the waitlist.
  • Post-Conference Tours (9/29), choose one: GM Tech Center Tour -OR- Okemos Tour – $295
  • Leadership Circle (9/26, exclusive to members at the Leadership Circle level & above) – $85
  • Homeowners & Public Sites Dinner (9/27, exclusive to homeowners & public sites) – $85

The following events are included in the Core Registration bundle, but may also be purchased as part of an A La Carte Registration:

  • Opening Reception (9/25) – $45
  • Conference Talks (9/26-9/28) – $75. Note: A La Carte registrants are responsible for their own transportation to and from Cranbrook on Saturday morning.
  • Gala (9/28) – $195. If interested in purchasing a block of 3 or more gala tickets, please contact the office at [email protected].

John G. Thorpe Emerging Professionals and Students Fellowship

To save Wright, we must encourage the next generation of advocates. In memory of architect and preservationist John Thorpe, the Conservancy selects a small number of graduate students and emerging professionals in architecture and historic preservation to attend the conference at no cost. All registrants have the option to add a tax-deductible donation to your conference registration to support the Thorpe Fellowship.

Applications for the Thorpe Fellowship will open soon – check back for details!

Thorpe Fellows

Conference Hotel

Conference attendees stay at the Westin Book Cadillac Detroit (114 Washington Boulevard) at the special group rate of $229 plus tax. All conference talks (except Saturday morning), tour departures, the Homeowners & Public Sites Dinner, and the Gala take place at the Westin Book Cadillac Detroit.

When you register for the conference, your confirmation email will include instructions for booking into our hotel block online or by phone. Please make your lodging arrangements promptly after registering, and no later than September 3 at 5 p.m. EDT, after which our special rate can no longer be guaranteed.

Aerial photo showing the top of the Westin Book Cadillac Hotel building in the foreground left, other downtown detroit buildings, then the river spanned by two large bridges with smokestacks and purple sunset in the distance

Photo courtesy of Westin Book Cadillac Detroit

Silent Auction

The Conservancy’s most popular annual fundraiser will take place online in conjunction with the conference. Bidding will open early during the week of the conference, and will close on Saturday, September 28 after the gala. The auction offers rare Wright memorabilia, artwork, collectibles, experiences at Wright sites, books, and more. All proceeds support our mission of preserving Wright’s remaining structures. The silent auction is open to everyone; registration for the conference is not required.

Collage of items available in the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy's 2023 online silent auction

Conference Sponsors

The Conservancy is grateful for the support of our conference sponsors. Sponsorship opportunities are available. Click here to learn more >>

Presenting Partner

TAWANI Property Management

Major Partners

David Pollack Vintage Posters

Blossoms and Turkel House
Blossoms & Turkel House
Ron & Jan Scherubel

Conference Partners

Basic Design

SC Johnson

Ted & Debi Muntz
Lukas Ruecker & Safina Uberoi
Unico

Patrons

Betsy Bray

BRINKER

Tim Gibson representing Rotary District #6540
Marsha & John Shyer
Anne Smith Towbes

Sponsors

Liz & Ken Allen
Randy Baidas & Will Reeves
Berglund Construction
CYLA Design Associates, Inc. Landscape Architecture & Planning
Harboe Architects, PC
Chuck & Kit Henderson
Kidorf Preservation Consulting
Patrick Schwarz & William Levy
Quinn Evans
WJE Engineers, Architects & Materials Specialists

Supporters

Architectural Resources Group
Doug LaBrecque
Donald Mann
George Meyer
Janet Parks
Mary & Tom Roberts
SmithGroup
Lynda & Tom Waggoner

In-Kind Sponsors

J. Charles
Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research
Ford Piquette Avenue Plant Museum
James Haefner Photography
Doug McGoldrick Photography

Waiver & Participation Agreement

Cancellation Policy

Registrants may cancel through August 6 for a full refund, or between August 7 and August 23 for a 50% refund. Cancellations made after August 23 will not receive a refund for any reason. Email [email protected] or call 312.663.5500 to cancel your registration.

The Conservancy reserves the right to cancel this event at any time if we feel that it cannot be held safely. In this case, the Conservancy would refund participants the cost of their registration, including any add-on events, but will not be responsible for any other costs incurred as a result of our decision to cancel the event.

Attendees may wish to consider purchasing travel insurance, which may reimburse certain costs in the event that the event is canceled or you are unable to participate. The Conservancy does not recommend any specific insurer or insurance product, and is not able to provide guidance.

Photography and Video

By attending this event, you may be included in photography and video recordings that may be used for the Conservancy’s educational or marketing purposes. Photography by participants is generally allowed, but might be restricted or prohibited at the request of specific venues.

Physical Condition Considerations & Special Accommodations

Tour attendees may encounter and must be capable of walking through tight spaces, up staircases, and on unpaved surfaces with no assistance. Private residences featured on our tours are not subject to ADA requirements.

If you have questions or require special accommodations to participate in tours or other conference events, please contact [email protected] to discuss your needs prior to registering.

Transportation

Transportation is provided for all tours and events unless otherwise noted. Attendees are not permitted to drive themselves to tours for which transportation is provided. Tour participants must be capable of boarding and exiting coach buses.

Liability Waiver

By registering for this event you consent to the following: “In consideration of my admission to the properties toured through the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy (FLWBC), I agree to waive, release, hold harmless and indemnify FLWBC and the owners, operators, members, officers, directors, trustees, agents, successors and assigns, of the FLWBC and each and every house, site and entity included in the conference, including any announced changes, from any and all claims, injuries, causes of action, demands, costs, liability and/or harm of any kind that I may have or may acquire against each of them as a result of my participation in this event.”