2014 FLWBC Conference Wrap-Up: Day 2
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Day 2 of the 2014 Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy Annual Conference in Phoenix, Arizona was another one chock full of wonderful preservation-related discussions and astonishing afternoon house tours. Get all the details after the jump... The morning began with a panel discussion on the topic of "Advocacy: How and Why it Works." The panelists (shown above from left to right) included Lon Arbegust (president of the A.D. German Warehouse Conservancy), Kim Knox (Gordon House...
Day 2 of the 2014 Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy Annual Conference in Phoenix, Arizona was another one chock full of wonderful preservation-related discussions and astonishing afternoon house tours. Get all the details after the jump...
The morning began with a panel discussion on the topic of "Advocacy: How and Why it Works." The panelists (shown above from left to right) included Lon Arbegust (president of the A.D. German Warehouse Conservancy), Kim Knox (Gordon House board member), Tom Schmidt (past FLWBC oard president and past director of Fallingwater), John Thorpe, AIA (architect and historic preservationist), and Ron Scherubel (past FLWBC executive director). Each panelist discussed their particular area of expertise or personal experience with Wright-related building preservation advocacy. I was particularly engaged by both Lon and Kim's experiences undertaking the saving of little known or under-appreciated Wright works: A.D. German Warehouse and the Gordon House. A.D. German was an uphill struggle to win over community support in Wright's birthplace and the Gordon House involved a complicated move to a new site to avoid demolition.
Next, we received an extremely informative update on the Frank Lloyd Wright buildings World Heritage Nomination process from Lynda Waggoner, FLWBC Vice President and Fallingwater Director. Lynda presented the very involved process of getting 10 iconic Wright sites across the country researched, organized, and prepared for submission as a group for UNESCO World Heritage designation. 2015 will be an important year in the process of designation, as the final proposal is submitted and the sites are reviewed and we wait to hear what the decision will be.
(Grady Gammage Jr.)
The morning session concluded with individual presentations and a panel discussion by Richard Longstreth (FLWBC president), Grady Gammage Jr. (real estate attorney and former member of the Phoenix Historic Preservation Commission), and Vince Michael (executive director of the Global Heritage Fund). The topic of the discussions were "Looking to the Future: The Conservancy and the Preservation of Modern Architecture" which explored the challenges and opportunities of preserving the architecture of the "recent past" (aka Midcentury Modern).
With the morning sessions complete, we headed for the buses and prepared to go tour a bevy of little-seen Wright residences and a posthumously built Wright-designed church in the Phoenix area. The first house we traveled to tour was the Norma Lykes Residence, which was reportedly one of the last designs on Frank Lloyd Wright's drawing boards before he passed away in April 1959. The home was ultimately completed under the supervision of architect John Rattenbury in 1967 and is a wonderful circular design constructed of desert rose-tinted concrete block.
(Norman Lykes Residence, Wright concept 1959/Rattenbury 1967)
(Norman Lykes Residence, Wright concept 1959/Rattenbury 1967. Photo copyright Mark Hertzberg)
The next stop was the one we were all holding our breath to see: the David and Gladys Wright Residence. In order to respect the current owner's wishes, no external or internal photography was allowed, but I can tell you that pictures would not do this amazing building justice anyway—it is an architectural symphony.
(June 1953 House + Home magazine page)
The house is quite simply a revelation to behold—coiled like a diamondback in the desert sun—every little detail is thought through and executed with precision and care. The current owner has not only saved this irreplaceable work of art, but they are investing a level of time and treasure into both the home, its landscape, and how it will be presented to the public that will truly set this work apart for generations to come.
What struck me as I walked through and around the home was that this house feels like an embodiment of a father's love for his child. The fact that Frank Lloyd Wright had difficult relationships with his first family is well known. As a result of the devastating effects of leaving that life behind, Frank Lloyd Wright did not seem to have a very easy time expressing his parental love to his Oak Park children in traditional ways. But the level of care and attention that the elder Wright obviously poured into this design for his son David was so evident in every aspect, it made me think that perhaps this creation was not just an architect wanting to create a world-class work of architecture, but perhaps also a father wanting to show his son in a tangible "concrete" form that he loved him very much.
(Raymond and Helen Carlson Residence 1950)
The next tour stop was the Raymond and Helen Carlson Residence from 1950. Raymond Carlson was the editor of the Arizona Highways magazine, which frequently published Wright's work over the years. Wright was asked to design the couple a home in Phoenix, and he provided the Carlson's with a three-level flat-roofed home that exhibits an economy of space similar to what you might experience on a sea-going ship.
The home's most striking feature is its turquoise blue trim, which is the original color Wright specified. Wright was pleased with the design and upon visiting early one morning in 1958 and finding the Carlson's still asleep, Frank Lloyd Wright left a handwritten note on the wall of the house stating "Hurrah Ray" which the owners quickly covered in glass to preserve the architect's approval.
(Wright's handwritten note on the home to the Carlson's from 1958)
(Entry to First Christian Church, TAA after Frank Lloyd Wright design)
Our final stop of the day was at the First Christian Church, by the Taliesin Associated Architects in 1971-72 based on the 1950 plans for Frank Lloyd Wright's un-executed Southwest Christian Seminary. The church is a beautiful example of the work of TAA after Wright's passing, and exhibits many striking details such as desert rubble masonry walls, cast-concrete decorative pylons, segmented spire and bell tower, gold ceiling and stunning art glass details.
(View looking towards entry of First Christian Church)
(Altar art glass mural by John Amarantides)
(Recessed sanctuary ceiling skylight feature with art glass)
(Dedication plaque and Wright signature tile)
That concluded another wonderful day at the 2014 Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy Conference in Phoenix, Arizona. Make sure to check-in tomorrow to get a wrap-up of Day 3 events and tour sites!
(Unless otherwise noted, all photos copyright PrairieMod)