2014 FLWBC Conference Wrap-Up: Day 1
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The first day of the 2014 Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy Annual Conference in Phoenix, Arizona was full of engaging lectures, panel discussions, and an amazing tour of Taliesin West. Get the details and see photos after the jump... This year's theme for the conference is a celebration of the Building Conservancy itself, which turns 25 years old. Because of the important preservation work that has occured in that quarter century, the topic of historic...
The first day of the 2014 Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy Annual Conference in Phoenix, Arizona was full of engaging lectures, panel discussions, and an amazing tour of Taliesin West. Get the details and see photos after the jump...
This year's theme for the conference is a celebration of the Building Conservancy itself, which turns 25 years old. Because of the important preservation work that has occured in that quarter century, the topic of historic preservation was a big part of the morning sessions.
We started the morning with the annual meeting of the FLWBC, with president Richard Longstreth welcoming everyone to Phoenix and proceeding with an organizational report and election of new board members. With the housekeeping out of the way, Richard introduced Phoenix mayor, Greg Stanton (shown above), who spoke about the importance of Frank Lloyd Wright to the Phoenix area, and the wonderful work undertaken by the Conservancy in saving the Gladys and David Wright House.
That was the perfect segue to the first panel discussion, "Saving the David and Gladys Wright House: A Look Back." The panel included (shown above left to right) Kevin Weight (historic preservation planner/Wright house landmark status preparer), Scott Jarson (Jarson & Jarson Real Estate), Jim McPherson (president of the Arizona Preservation Foundation), architect Will Bruder, FAIA, Brendon Mahoney (former senior policy advisor to the mayor of Phoenix), and Janet Halstead (FLWBC Executive Director). The panel discussed each of their personal perspectives on the harrowing events that ultimately lead to the saving of the Wright residence. What was refreshing was to hear not only the successes in how the day was won, but also the mis-steps that occured along the way that almost lead to disaster (a demolition permit for the home was mistakenly granted for the house at one point) and what was learned as a result.
After a brief break, the sessions continued with another panel discussion titled "Preservation in Phoenix and Statewide: The Midcentury Modern Challenge." Moderator Scott Jarson (above, far right) lead a discussion with panelists (left to right) Don Ryden (architect and author), Alison King (founder of Modern Phoenix), and Jim Garrison (state historic preservation officer) on the current historic preservation challenges facing both Phoenix and the state of Arizona, with a specific emphasis on Midcentury Modern buildings. I was particularly impressed with the grass roots work undertaken by Alison King to not only identify structures at risk, but also undertake education outreach and proactive campaigns to inform owners of MCM buildings of the special nature of their homes and the importance of preservation. If you have not visited the Modern Phoenix website, I highly suggest you check it out and see the good work being done--it's a model for how any city can proactively preserve their Modern architectural heritage.
Finally, the morning sessions concluded with an informative lecture by author and Wright scholar, Neil Levine, on the topic of "Wright in Arizona: Before and After the David Wright House." Neil provided an excellent encapsulation of Frank Lloyd Wright's work for his adopted desert home, and how the unique environment shaped his architectural thinking in new and profoundly different ways.
With the morning sessions concluded, we loaded up on the tour buses to head out towards Taliesin West. Upon arriving, we were guided to the music pavilion to be welcomed by Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation President and CEO, Sean Malone (shown above) and mayor of Scottsdale, Jim Lane. We then heard a presentation by Fred Prozzillo, director of preservation at Taliesin West, on the ongoing work by the Foundation and Harboe Architects to develop a comprehensive preservation plan for TWest.
It was time for us to explore the grounds of this wonderful architectural icon, so they broke us up into groups and allowed us to wander around TWest, stationing experts in many of the significant rooms to help interpret the spaces and answer any questions. What follows is a smattering of the wonderful sites we saw:
The bell rang announcing that refreshments and snacks were served. Everyone enjoyed snacking on fruits and cheeses while catching up with each other. I re-connected with several friends from across the Wright world and shared our stories and news items.
The bell rang again telling us that the break was over and it was time to go back to the music pavilion to hear the keynote speech by New York Times architecture critic Michael Kimmelman. Michael discussed the topic of historic preservation and the fine line that must be walked between nostalgia, fanaticism, and pragmatism. Mr. Kimmelman was also presented with a special Wright Spirit Award for his efforts in promoting the importance of saving the David and Gladys Wright House and launching the topic into the national and international media spotlight.
With that the day's events drew to a close for most of us. It was time to go back to the beautiful Arizona Biltmore, get some dinner and drinks and relive the magical experience of seeing Taliesin West.
Make sure you check back tomorrow for the wrap-up of the day's events and more photos of the people and places we saw.
(All photos copyright PrairieMod)