In mid-November, the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy and participating sites completed a revised nomination to the UNESCO World Heritage List, The 20th-Century Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright, which includes a group of eight major works designed by Wright located across the country. Spanning his 70-year career, the buildings include Unity Temple, the Frederick C. Robie House, Taliesin, Hollyhock House, Fallingwater, the Herbert and Katherine Jacobs House, Taliesin West and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.
The nomination was first submitted for consideration in 2015, but the decision was referred for further refinement.
Acting on behalf of the official State Party, the National Park Service (NPS) Office of International Affairs submitted the revised nomination to the World Heritage Centre in Paris on Nov. 20, 2018. It will be reviewed at the 2019 World Heritage Meeting scheduled to be held in early July in Baku, Azerbaijan.
The owners of all the properties are participating voluntarily. Nominations are submitted by the U.S. Department of the Interior to the World Heritage Committee, an independent body that operates under the umbrella of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The nomination was prepared under the guidance of the NPS’s Office of International Affairs. The nomination document is available for download here (pdf, 48 MB).
What is the timeline for the nomination?
The nomination was submitted in November 2018. It will be reviewed by the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), a private organization that is an official adviser to the World Heritage Committee. In May 2019, ICOMOS will make a recommendation as to whether the nomination should be listed, for the consideration of the World Heritage Committee, which meets in June-July 2019 and will make a decision on the nomination at that time. The Committee is made up of a rotating group of 21 countries elected from among the member countries of the World Heritage Convention.
What are the effects of nomination?
World Heritage listing is primarily honorary, though it also can often stimulate increased tourism. The Wright sites would be one of only 24 World Heritage sites in the U.S., and the only listing of modern architecture. A list of U.S. World Heritage sites is available on the National Park Service website.
Listing does not impose any new regulations or restrictions on properties. The nomination must document the existing legal protections for the property. The nomination also identifies a “buffer zone” that protects the setting of the property, but which is outside the formally nominated property boundary.
ICOMOS and the staff of the World Heritage Centre (the secretariat for the World Heritage Committee), sometimes become aware of development in the vicinity of properties that are under review for World Heritage designation or are already listed. They may ask the National Park Service for information about such developments, and assurance that it will not have a negative effect on the property in question. Although the World Heritage Committee cannot require action, it is the responsibility of the U.S. under the World Heritage Convention to cooperate with such requests to the extent possible.
Isn’t the U.S. leaving UNESCO?
Yes, the U.S. is withdrawing from UNESCO at the end of 2018. However, the World Heritage Convention is a separate treaty to which the U.S. is still a signatory. While the Convention’s Secretariat is staffed by UNESCO, the Convention is a stand-alone international legal instrument.
Posted on December 11, 2018