Hollyhock House among 10 Frank Lloyd Wright sites nominated for World Heritage List

Hollyhock House at Barnsdall Park, East Hollywood, is one of 10 U.S. sites designed by American architect Frank Lloyd Wright to be nominated for the World Heritage List.
Hollyhock House at Barnsdall Park, East Hollywood, is one of 10 U.S. sites designed by American architect Frank Lloyd Wright to be nominated for the World Heritage List.
Kent Kanouse/Flickr Creative Commons

Map of nominated sites >>

The iconic Hollyhock House in Los Angeles has been nominated to the UNESCO World Heritage List along with nine other American sites designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

"Frank Lloyd Wright is widely considered to be the greatest American architect of the 20th century and his works are a highly valued and uniquely American contribution to the world's architectural heritage," U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell said in a statement Friday announcing the nomination.

If approved, these locations would join the ranks of more than 1,000 protected natural and man-made sites in 161 countries, including the Taj Mahal in India, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, the pyramids of Egypt, the Statue of Liberty in New York and Yosemite National Park in California.

Modern works of architecture that have been recognized in the past include the Sydney Opera House, the city of Brasilia and the Bauhaus School in Germany.

"World Heritage Sites draw visitors from around the world, providing not only prestige to local communities but also a boost to their economies," Jewell said.

The designation can mean increased funding for preservation efforts.

The Hollyhock House in East Hollywood's Barnsdall Park is just one of several properties designed by Wright in the Los Angeles area, but the only one to make the conservancy's list.

Other locations include the Ennis House in Los Feliz, the Anderton Court shops in Beverly Hills, the Sturgis House in Brentwood and the Millard House in Pasadena.

UNESCO says a World Heritage site should "represent a masterpiece of human creative genius" and be an outstanding example of a type of building or architecture that "illustrates a significant stage in human history." You can read more about their criteria here.

Here's what the conservancy had to say about the Hollyhock House in its nominating document (which you can find here):

"The house dramatically exemplifies a residential architecture appropriate for its romantic Southern California setting and the region’s historical traditions. As a courtyard house, Hollyhock House seamlessly melds exterior and interior living space, providing each room with its complementary outdoor space in the form of terraces at both ground and roof levels."

You can see the full list of sites included in the nomination in the map below.


The nomination has been a long time coming.

Two Frank Lloyd Wright properties — Taliesin and Taliesin West — were proposed by the U.S. in the early 1990s, but the nomination was deferred in favor of a broader selection that would better represent the architect's career and accomplishments, according to Stephen Morris, chief of international affairs for the Interior Department.

It wasn't until 2003 that the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy, armed with a grant, assembled a group of scholars to create the list, Morris told KPCC.

The conservancy submitted its new 10-site list in 2006, when the Department of Interior put out a call for applications. It would still take years to make it through the process.

"It was a complicated nomination, you know, with having 10 properties in seven states. There's a lot of coordination that had to take place," Morris said.

In 2008, the Wright properties, under the title "Key Works of Modern Architecture by Frank Lloyd Wright," made the department's initial cut, Morris said. In 2011 the list was finally authorized for nomination.

It took more than three additional years to put together the 400-page formal nominating document to submit to UNESCO.

"We think it's a strong proposal, and we have every confidence that it will be well-received. There may be some technical issues. Sometimes there've been concerns expressed by the International Council on Monuments and Sites about the buffer zones around our properties, and some other issues. It's really hard to predict," Morris said.

Now it's up to an international committee to decide whether the Wright sites should be on the World Heritage List. But hurry up and wait — a decision isn't expected until sometime in 2016.

For now, Wright enthusiasts will have to be satisfied that the Hollyhock House, which has been closed for renovation for the last six years, will soon reopen to the public.