In search for the right way to save a Frank Lloyd Wright house

The clock is ticking on the fate of the David and Gladys Wright house. This house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for his son, was patterned after the spiral plan of the Guggenheim Museum in New York City. Its construction began in 1950 and completed in 1952. After it was publicized in 1953, both architecture historians and critics alike deemed it among the 20 most significant buildings of the world-famous architect.

The Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy is strategizing on the right way to save “one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s most innovative, unusual and personal works of architecture” as described by Neil Levine (a well-known architectural historian and Harvard Professor) in reference to the house.

Finding The Right Buyer

When the 8081 Meridian Corporation purchased the house for $1.8 million in June 2012, The Frank Lloyd Wright Building conservancy contacted these new owners who are also developers to begin a dialogue where the goal would be an outcome of a win-win situation for both the owner/developer and the preservation of a notable piece of architecture. Comments made by the owners/developers indicate a possibility of demolition of the said house. The search is now on for “a new buyer or buyers to purchase the property intact from the current owners/developers. Buyers can take varying forms such as individuals who are in a position to purchase it, a consortium for temporary ownership, or ownership as a 501(c)3 partnership among museums or institutions. The asking price? $2.7 million approximately.

Lot Split Planning Solution

This option might provide the respect to architecture and site that the house warrants while at the same time allow the owners to develop the land in consultation with local Phoenix architects who will be able to properly plan its development. This real estate however, will still be subject to meet zoning ordinances, variance approvals, and neighborhood questioning.

Seek Landmark Status

This issue is now formalized as part of a Hearing’s agenda with the Historic Preservation Commission that is scheduled on September 17, 2012 at 4:30pm at 200 West Washington Street, Phoenix, AZ (1st Floor Assembly Room). The Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy shares this: “As many of you know while historic preservation designation is under consideration no demolition permit will be approved.  Approval of Historic Preservation designation provides an automatic delay of one year for granting any demolition permit; Landmark status provides a three-year delay. The unknown at this point is whether the city will require owner consent and at what point in the process.”

Do something to help save the David and Gladys Wright house today. Here’s how:

Write in support of Historic Preservation and Landmark designation for the David Wright House.
Please indicate the following in a subject line:  David Wright House Historic Preservation Landmark Designation (Rezoning Application Z-24-12-6)

  • One letter may be addressed  to the following 3 recommending bodies:

Chairman Parisella and the Historic Preservation Commission, City of Phoenix

Chairman Awai and the Planning Commission, City of Phoenix

Chairman Swart and the Camelback East  Village Planning Committee

c/o Ms. Michelle Dodds, AICP

Acting Historic Preservation Officer

Planning and Development Department

City of Phoenix

200 West Washington St. Third Floor

Phoenix, AZ 85003

email Michelle Dodds

  • Letter to the Mayor and to the City Council

The Honorable Greg Stanton

Mayor of Phoenix

200 West Washington St. Eleventh floor

Phoenix, AZ 85003

email Mayor Greg Stanton

  • If you are a resident of the City of Phoenix you may also wish to send a letter to your individual councilman.

 

  • As well as urging the Historic Preservation and Landmark designation, please emphasize Wright's importance to modern architecture, his choice of Arizona to build Taliesin West, his winter headquarters for his office and school, beginning in 1938, the cultural value it as well as the David Wright house represents to the Valley of the Sun, and the lessons of  how to build in the desert.  Don't be shy about talking about your professional life, relation to Wright, and/or your stand for the importance of the architecture.  The decision makers need to know what the stakes are of not protecting this house.

 

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