The Great Wall of China. The Taj Mahal. The Great Pyramids. Venice. Stonehenge. The S.C. Johnson Administration Building and Research Tower in Racine, Wisconsin.
Although that final place on the above list doesn’t seem to quite fit with the others, it, along with 10 other invaluable — and some vulnerable — American buildings designed by hugely influential architect and 20th century rabble-rouser extraordinaire, Frank Lloyd Wright, are currently in the running for UNESCO World Heritage status. If these culturally and historically significant Wright-designed buildings eventually emerge from the “slow-moving nomination process” — a process that was initiated in 2008 and formalized with a proposal by former Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar in the summer of 2011 — with full approval, they’ll enjoy the same protections enjoyed by their World Heritage brethren of which there are 981 total spread across the globe.
That being said, there are currently only 21 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Unites States with most of them being parks including the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, and the Everglades. The Statue of Liberty and Philadelphia’s Independence Hall also make the cut. The potential inclusion of a select handful of masterpieces designed by the granddady of organic architecture — “the most iconic, most intact, most representative, most innovative and most influential of the more than 400 Frank Lloyd Wright designs that have been erected” in the words of UNESCO — on the UNESCO World Heritage List wouldn’t bump the number up by 11 but by one. The structures, as part of a serial nomination, would be collectively considered as a single World Heritage site spanning seven states: Wisconsin (3); Illinois (2); California (2); New York (1); Arizona (1); Pennsylvania (1); and Oklahoma (1).
Explains the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities:
This collection of Wright buildings are the first modern U.S. buildings nominated, and they epitomize his creative contribution to architecture. His work transformed American design and the public sphere in the 20th century, be it a workplace, house of worship or a cultural or civic institution.
If these 11 iconic buildings — they include private homes, a chuch, a skyscraper, a civic building, a corporate campus, a museum, and Wright's own famed winter and summer studios — are indeed upgraded from the UNESCO World Heritage Site tentative list and achieve “monumental” status, it would be announced as soon as 2016.
Here’s a quick rundown of each individual building with their locations and completed dates. You might recognize them from your own personal travels or from preservation-minded stories that have been published here on MNN. You can find full descriptions of each at the UNESCO World Heritage website.
How many of these FLW-designed, UNESCO World Heritage-nominated sites have you visited?
Unity Temple, Oak Park, Ill. (1908) (Photo: joevare/Flickr)
Robie House, Chicago (1910) (Photo: Dan Smith/Wikimedia)
Taliesin, Spring Green, Wis. (1911 – subsequently rebuilt) (Photo: Kent Wong/Flickr)
Hollyhock House, Los Angeles (1921) (Photo: joevare/Flickr)
The Jacobs House, Madison, Wis. (1937) (Photo: Teemu008/Flickr)
Fallingwater, Mill Run, Pa. (1938) (Photo: Matt Hickman)
Taliesin West, Scottsdale, Ariz. (1938) (Photo: Artotem/Flickr)
S.C. Johnson Administration Building and Research Tower (1939, 1950) (Photo: cdschlock/Flickr)
The Price Tower, Bartlesville, Okla. (1956) (Photo: Shawn Thomas/Flickr)
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York City (1959) (Photo: Jules Antonio/Flickr)
Marin County Civic Center (1962, posthumous) Photo (Sarah_Ackerman/Flickr)
Related on MNN:
- Frank Lloyd Wright's Spring House ranks on annual 'most endangered' list
- The gas station that Frank Lloyd Wright built
- Mount Fuji and 18 other locations protected as UNESCO World Heritage sites