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World Heritage

The 20th-Century Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright
on the World Heritage List

The World Heritage List is a register of the planet’s most exceptional and irreplaceable cultural and natural sites. There are more than 1,000 World Heritage sites around the world, and the group of eight Wright sites included in The 20th-Century Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright is now among only 24 sites in the United States. The series represents the first modern architecture designation in the country on the prestigious list.

Wright Buildings on the World Heritage List

The 20th-Century Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright includes eight major works located across the country and spanning 50 years of Wright’s 70-year career.

  • Unity Temple (constructed 1906-1909, Oak Park, Illinois)
  • Frederick C. Robie House (constructed 1910, Chicago, Illinois)
  • Taliesin (constructed 1911-1959, Spring Green, Wisconsin)
  • Hollyhock House (constructed 1918-1921, Los Angeles, California)
  • Fallingwater (constructed 1936-1939, Mill Run, Pennsylvania)
  • Herbert and Katherine Jacobs House (constructed 1936-1937, Madison, Wisconsin)
  • Taliesin West (begun 1938, Scottsdale, Arizona)
  • Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (constructed, 1956-1959, New York, New York)

The sites encompass a wide variety of geographic and cultural settings across the breadth of the continental United States.

Unity Temple
Photo by Tom Rossiter

Robie House
Photo by James Caulfield, courtesy of Frank Lloyd Wright Trust

Taliesin
Photo by Andrew Pielage, courtesy of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation

Hollyhock House
Photo by Joshua White

Fallingwater
Photo courtesy of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy

Herbert and Katherine Jacobs House I
Photo by David Heald

Taliesin West
Photo by Andrew Pielage, courtesy of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation

Solomon R Guggenheim Museum
Photo by David Heald, (c) Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation

The Significance of These Sites

This group of Wright’s works best exemplifies the architect’s artistic genius and extraordinary contribution to modern architecture and culture. It includes one of his earliest, Unity Temple (completed in 1909), and one of his last, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (completed in 1959).

The 50-year period covered by the sites in this nomination is one characterized by dramatic technological and social change. In both in the United States and abroad, effects of industrialization had a significant impact on people, and these buildings represent new solutions to the needs for housing, worship, work, education and leisure.

The buildings reflect the “organic architecture” developed by Wright, characteristics of which include an open plan, a blurring of the boundaries between exterior and interior, and the novel use of materials such as steel and concrete. Wright’s work from this period had a strong impact on the development of modern architecture internationally, and has inspired many other architects through today.

The Impact of World Heritage Designation

The Frank Lloyd Wright World Heritage Council, comprising leaders from the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy and each inscribed site, hopes that the inscription will not only ensure the long-term preservation of these eight buildings, but also bring awareness to the need to preserve the nearly 400 remaining structures designed by Wright that remain in three-quarters of the United States as well as Japan and Canada. We hope that this inspires all communities where a Wright building stands to appreciate and protect the artistic, cultural and architectural heritage of Wright’s legacy.

About the Sites and How to Visit

These eight sites are representative of the principles of organic architecture embodied in all of Frank Lloyd Wright’s work. More than 70 Wright sites are accessible to the public: view them all here and plan your visit to experience Wright’s work in person. Join the Frank Lloyd Wright National Reciprocal Sites Membership Program through the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy or your nearest participating Wright site for free admission or benefits at 30 sites. View more information on our Membership page.

Unity Temple
Photo by Tom Rossiter

Unity Temple
Photo by Tom Rossiter

Unity Temple
Photo by Tom Rossiter

Unity Temple (constructed 1906-1909, Oak Park, Illinois)

  • Unity Temple is the primary illustration in the series of the use of dynamic forms that employ innovative use of materials.
  • It is one of the first truly modern buildings in its abstract cubic form and progression of spaces. It unites aesthetic intent and structure through the early use of a single material—reinforced concrete. Built in the first decade of the 20th century, it was a radical break from longstanding Western notions of enclosure as well as from conventions of religious architecture. Its use of monolithic reinforced concrete for a public building, rather than an industrial structure, was groundbreaking.
  • Regular guided and self-guided tours are available of Unity Temple. To find out more, visit utrf.org.

 

Robie House
Photo by James Caulfield, courtesy of Frank Lloyd Wright Trust

Robie House
Photo by James Caulfield, courtesy of Frank Lloyd Wright Trust

Robie House
Photo by Tim Long, courtesy of Frank Lloyd Wright Trust

Frederick C. Robie House (constructed 1910, Chicago, Illinois)

  • The Robie House is the primary illustration in the series of spatial continuity expressed through the open floor plan.
  • Robie House is considered the quintessential Prairie house. One of the primary features of that form is the open plan. Built in 1910, when domestic architecture commonly adhered to vertical massing with a fixed hierarchy of spaces, this house perfected a new paradigm for domestic design by allowing interior space to flow from one room into another in a primarily horizontal form.
  • Regular guided and self-guided tours are available of Robie House. To find out more visit flwright.org/visit/robiehouse.

 

Taliesin
Photo by Andrew Pielage, courtesy of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation

Taliesin
Photo by Andrew Pielage, courtesy of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation

Taliesin

Taliesin (constructed 1911-1959, Spring Green, Wisconsin)

  • Taliesin is the primary illustration in the series of an architectural form that has an integral relationship with its natural setting.
  • The consummate example of organic architecture, Taliesin appears to grow from its hillside, with extensive use of local materials and carefully planned vistas of the surrounding farms and hills. Wright experimented with and refined this relationship over the period of his long residence in the property.
  • Regular guided tours are available of Taliesin. To find out more visit taliesinpreservation.org.

 

Hollyhock House
Photo by Joshua White

Hollyhock House
Photo by Joshua White

Hollyhock House
Photo by Joshua White

Hollyhock House (constructed 1918-1921, Los Angeles, California)

  • Hollyhock House is the primary illustration in the series of the transformation of inspirations from other places and cultures.
  • This highly unified design is a model for the modern interpretation of indigenous forms. It was designed and built in Hollywood during 1918-1921 as the movie industry was becoming established there. In contrast to the primarily externally applied, “exotic” ornament of Art Deco, this house features a fundamental form that recalls ancient Meso-America. Its ornamentation, while suited to the theatricality of its setting and its use as an arts complex as well as a residence, is integral to the form.
  • Regular guided and self-guided tours are available of Hollyhock House. To find out more, visit barnsdall.org/hollyhock-house.

 

Fallingwater
Photo courtesy of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy

Fallingwater
Photo by Christopher Little, courtesy of Western Pennsylvania Conservancy

Fallingwater
Photo by Christopher Little, courtesy of Western Pennsylvania Conservancy

Fallingwater (constructed 1936-1939, Mill Run, Pennsylvania)

  • Fallingwater is the primary illustration in the series of unity of design, expressed in the integration of the parts with the whole.
  • Fallingwater is a tour de force that uses a limited palette of materials, color and design motifs that are all derived from the natural features of the woodland site where it was built. Reiterated throughout the structure, they unify the composition and tie it uniquely to its setting.
  • Regular guided tours are available of Fallingwater. To find out more, visit: visit fallingwater.org.

 

Herbert and Katherine Jacobs House I
Photo by David Heald, courtesy of James Dennis

Herbert and Katherine Jacobs House I
Photo by David Heald, courtesy of James Dennis

Herbert and Katherine Jacobs House I
Photo by David Heald, courtesy of James Dennis

Herbert and Katherine Jacobs House I (constructed 1936-1937, Madison, Wisconsin)

  • The Jacobs House is the primary illustration in the series of how this architecture addressed changing modes of domestic living in the 20th century.
  • This is the first of Wright’s Usonian houses, an artistic design for a family of modest means and without servants. Built during the Depression years in the 1930s, it responded to the housing needs of ordinary Americans with a detached, single-family suburban home. Innovative in organization, plan and construction, it reflected the increasing informality in society in the mid-20th century and supported the viability of houses for the middle class.
  • Jacobs House I is a private home not open for tours.

 

Taliesin West
Photo by Andrew Pielage, courtesy of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation

Taliesin West
Photo by Andrew Pielage, courtesy of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation

Taliesin West
Photo by Andrew Pielage, courtesy of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation

Taliesin West (begun 1938, Scottsdale, Arizona)

  • Taliesin West is the primary illustration in the series of contrast and carefully composed paths of movement creating richness of experience.
  • This complex seamlessly blends structure and landscape in ways that evoke ancient cultures and primordial qualities of its desert setting. The effect is achieved through a choreographed procession through its spaces formed of rugged materials. The property has a timeless quality yet is distinctly modern in sensibility.
  • Regular guided tours are available of Taliesin West. To find out more, visit franklloydwright.org/taliesin-west.

 

Solomon R Guggenheim Museum
Photo by David Heald, (c) Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation

Solomon R Guggenheim Museum
Photo by David Heald, (c) Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation

Solomon R Guggenheim Museum
Photo by David Heald, (c) Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (constructed, 1956-1959, New York, New York)

  • The Guggenheim Museum is the primary illustration in the series of how architecture addressed changing modes of public living in the 20th century.
  • The Guggenheim is the prototype for the modern art museum, in which the building becomes a primary work of art, immersing the visitor in an environment evoking an emotional response. Its circular form provides a disruptive contrast to the rectilinearity of the city for which it was designed.
  • Regular guided tours are available of the Guggenheim Museum. To find out more, visit guggenheim.org/the-frank-lloyd-wright-building.

 

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The 20th-Century Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright
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Learn more at the UNESCO World Heritage Centre