The Wright Spirit Awards were established in 1991 to honor individuals and organizations who have demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to preserving Wright’s legacy. The Conservancy’s Awards Committee selects the honorees from nominations received during an open nomination period.
This year’s awards will be presented Saturday, Oct. 5 at a gala dinner during our conference in Los Angeles. Tickets ($175) are available by calling 312.663.5500.
“There are so many different people who make an impact in the Wright world, from private homeowners who spend great amounts of time and money restoring Wright houses, to those who help facilitate the rescue of buildings that might otherwise be lost, to government officials who prioritize historic preservation in their planning and budgeting,” says Barbara Gordon, executive director of the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy. “There are always far more people and organizations who’ve made a difference than we can honor in a year. This year we celebrate several homeowners for past work, the husband-and-wife team who brought the Lindholm House back to life, the team behind the Wright World Heritage inscription and more.”
In addition to seven Wright Spirit Awards, longtime events volunteer Betsy Bray will receive the Conservancy Award, which is chosen by the executive director for outstanding service to the Conservancy staff.
Congratulations to this year’s honorees!
Carrie and Ken Cox
Owners, Fawcett House, Los Banos, California
For restoration of the Fawcett House
Janet and Van Korell
Owners, Sutton House, McCook, Nebraska
For restoration of the Sutton House
City of Los Angeles Councilman
For leadership and funding of Hollyhock House and Residence A restoration
Tom and Heather Papinchak
Owners, Polymath Park
For the move and reconstruction of the Lindholm House
Author, photographer, advocate
For role in saving Hardy House, several books on Wright buildings, extensive photo-documentation of Wright’s work
Frank Lloyd Wright World Heritage Council
For successfully nominating a series of Wright buildings to the UNESCO World Heritage List
Henry Whiting II
Owner, Teater’s Knoll
For restoration of Teater’s Knoll and designing/commissioning other architecturally significant houses
The World Heritage Committee, meeting in Baku, Azerbaijan, has officially inscribed The 20th-Century Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright, which includes eight major works spanning 50 years of Wright’s career, on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The sites in the group inscription span Wright’s influential career. They include Unity Temple (constructed 1906-1909, Oak Park, Illinois), the Frederick C. Robie House (constructed 1910, Chicago, Illinois), Taliesin (begun 1911, Spring Green, Wisconsin), Hollyhock House (constructed 1918-1921, Los Angeles, California), Fallingwater (constructed 1936-1939, Mill Run, Pennsylvania), the Herbert and Katherine Jacobs House (constructed 1936-1937, Madison, Wisconsin), Taliesin West (begun 1938, Scottsdale, Arizona) and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (constructed 1956-1959, New York, New York).
There are more than 1,000 World Heritage sites around the world, and the group of Wright sites is now among only 24 sites in the U.S. The collection represents the first modern architecture designation in the country on the prestigious list.
“This recognition by UNESCO is a significant way for us to reconfirm how important Frank Lloyd Wright was to the development of modern architecture around the world,” says Barbara Gordon, executive director of the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy. “There are nearly 400 remaining structures designed by Wright. Our hope is that the inscription of these eight major works also brings awareness to the importance of preserving all of his buildings as a vital part of our artistic, cultural and architectural heritage. All communities where a Wright building stands should appreciate what they have and share in the responsibility to protect their local—and world—heritage.”
The eight inscribed sites have played a prominent role in the development and evolution of Modern architecture during the first half of the 20th century and continuing to the present. UNESCO considers the international importance of a potential World Heritage Site based on its “Outstanding Universal Value,” which in the Wright series is manifested in three attributes. First, it is an architecture responsive to functional and emotional needs, achieved through geometric abstraction and spatial manipulation. Second, the design of the buildings in this series is fundamentally rooted in nature’s forms and principles. Third, the series represents an architecture conceived to be responsive to the evolving American experience, but which is universal in its appeal.
The Wright nomination has been in development for more than 15 years, a coordinated effort between the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy, each of the nominated sites and independent scholars, with a substantial financial commitment realized through subsidies and donations, countless hours donated by staff and volunteers, and the guidance and assistance of the National Park Service. The nomination effort was spearheaded by Fallingwater Director Emerita and founding Conservancy board member Lynda Waggoner, with Fallingwater contributing support and expertise in the nomination’s preparation. The Conservancy will now coordinate the activities of the Frank Lloyd Wright World Heritage Council, chaired by Waggoner, which was established to support the responsible conservation and promotion of the eight World Heritage sites.
In 2015, the U.S. nominated a series of 10 Wright-designed sites to the World Heritage List. At its meeting in Istanbul, Turkey, in July 2016, the World Heritage Committee decided to “refer” the nomination for revisions. Over the past two years, the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy worked with the council of sites and leading scholars to revise the nomination and rework the justification for inscription.
The National Park Service submitted the Wright nomination to the World Heritage Centre in Paris on November 20, 2018, and it was reviewed and inscribed at the 2019 session of the World Heritage Committee, on Sunday, July 7 in Baku, Azerbaijan.
View photos from the World Heritage Committee meeting in Baku on our Flickr page.