Thursday, October 4, 2012

Saving a structure

It would be a 1st, and not in a good way... For almost 40 years, no intact Frank Lloyd Wright building has been intentionally razed. In walk unapologetic real estate developers John Hoffman and Steve Sells (video here), who  purchased the Phoenix property in June for $1.8 million. The David and Gladys Wright House, as it is known, is the only residence by world-famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright that is based on his spiral design of the Guggenheim Museum, which was built 6 years later in the mid-1950s (slideshow here, photos and plans here). "It was never a secret on what our intention was,"says Sells. Their plan, for which they applied for and received a demolition permit, was to tear down the historic 2,500 sq ft home, divide the 2.2-acre lot, and build 2 big, new houses. Wright's great-granddaughters, Kimberly Lloyd Wright and Ann Lloyd Wright Levi, sold the house - which the architect had built for his son, their grandfather - on the understanding that it would be preserved. And it should be, according to many:
"It's widely considered by Wright scholars around the world today to be in the top 10 of Wright's designs."~Scott Jarson, preservationist
"The spatial design, the processional movement through the patio and along the spiral ramp, the custom-designed concrete-block detailing, and the total interior design all give this house a spectacular expression especially appropriate to the desert environment."~Neil Levine, architectural historian and Harvard professor who also calls it "a complete work of art.”
It defied the conventional layering of floors joined by stairs, evokes notions of aspiration and transcendency, and represents a touching gift from a father to a son.”~Jack Quinan, professor and Wright scholar
So far, a petition launched by outraged preservationists has succeeded in temporarily delaying demolition while they determine whether the house should be designated a historic landmark. "It's a nightmare. It's heartbreaking....Never in my wildest dreams would I think someone would tear down a Frank Lloyd Wright home," says the architect's great-grandaughter. Let's hope (and help) that it doesn't come to that.
Sign the Petition
Frank Lloyd Wright:

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