WHS new “tentative” list: Places to love — Frank Lloyd Wright buildings (part 2)

For the Gadling series “World Heritage Site new “Tentative List”: Places to Love” we are covering the 14 sites that have been submitted for possible inclusion as an official World Heritage Site in the United States. The sites will not be posted in order of importance or in the order they appear on the list.

Number 4

Name of site: Frank Lloyd Wright Buildings (Part 2- There are ten buildings on this list, each deserving a mention. Therefore, we are presenting the ten buildings in two separate posts. Here are the final five; the first were posted here.)

Location: Various locations in Arizona, California, Illinois, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin

Reason for importance (in a nutshell): Let’s break’em down by building:

The S.C. Johnson and Son, Inc., buildings (1936-39; 1943-50): Soft light, round forms — is it possible the building was meant to convey wax? Likely not, but that’s what came to my mind when reading the description of the structure. The Great Workroom was built for Johnson’s secretaries, and there are no interior walls or cubicles. Natural light is let in through a series of glass tubings.

Price Tower (1953-56): This building is Wright’s only freestanding skyscraper — it uses a central mast for 19 floors. The design mimics a tree’s form; a “trunk” holds four elevator shafts and the floors are tapered much like branches. I read that Wright solved the dilemma of building a skyscraper (he wanted his structures to mimic nature, which is why most are flat and wide) by designing it after a tree. This is his tallest building.

Marin County Civic Center (1960-1969): The Civic Center, in San Rafael, California, was one of Wright’s last works and the only one built for a government entity. Indoor and outdoor elements blend together, as was Wright’s trademark. Parts of the building are built into the hills (see top photo for an example of how the building enjoys a nearly seamless connection with its surroundings).

The Guggenheim Museum (1956-59): On 5th Avenue facing Central Park, the Guggenheim is, like Fallingwater, a quintessential Frank Lloyd Wright. The UNESCO site describes the Guggenheim better than I could: “The three major components are the main spiral Rotunda, which coils five times around to a sky-lit dome or oculus 95 feet above the floor; the smaller, circular “monitor” to the north; and the horizontal cantilevered bridge that connects the two and wraps around three sides of the building at the second-story level. The entire design is based on geometric modules of circles, triangles and lozenges through a series of interlocking forms.”

Taliesin West (1938): This was Wright’s Arizona winter home, as well as his school and studio. Wright used materials from his surroundings — gravel, sand and stone — for basic construction materials, and a redwood and canvas roof lets in mellow winter light. Indoors and outdoors flow into each other.

Catherine’s take: As Jamie wrote, we’re talking about Frank Lloyd Wright, here! What’s not to love?