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Courtesy Robert Buschak/© Western Pennsylvania Conservancy
From the Statute of Liberty to the ruins of the Chaco Culture, the United Staes has fewer than two dozen landmarks designated as UNESCO World Heritage sites. Now, ten of Frank Lloyd Wright’s buildings—built from 1906 to 1969—are the first modern works of American architecture to be considered for a global list, which already includes Walter Gropius’s early Modernist Fagus Factory, Josef Hoffmann’s secessionist Stoclet House, and a host of cultural landmarks from Angkor Wat to Stonehenge. The UNESCO designation neither outlines nor provides any specific protections or provisions for the preservation of the buildings, but would formally elevate them to an international standing. The nomination was forwarded by the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy, a Chicago-based nonprofit dedicated to preserving Wright’s built legacy. The next steps are site visits by the World Heritage Committee throughout 2015 and possible inclusion by summer 2016.
The ten buildings are located in seven states: California (Marin County Civic Center, Hollyhock House), Arizona (Taliesen West), Oklahoma (Price Tower), Wisconsin (Taliesen, Jacobs House), Illinois (Unity Temple, Robie House), Pennsylvania (Falling Water), and New York (Guggenheim Museum). An earlier 1991 nomination of two Wright works—Taliesen and Taliesen West—was rebuffed by the UNESCO Committee in favor a comprehensive list of works nominated from Wright’s entire oeuvre. Beginning in 2004, a group of Wright scholars embarked on the slow process of distilling the list, documenting each work and justifying its inclusion. Here are the ten works and highlights from the Wright committee’s recommendations.