Written by Laura Wainman, Editorial Intern
In the architecture world, no name carries more weight than Frank Lloyd Wright. But, as an ongoing dispute in Phoenix Arizona shows, the name alone does not protect iconic buildings from demolition threats. A 1952 Arcadia home built for Wright’s son, David Wright, is in danger of being torn down by current owners, the 8081 Meridian Corporation.
The David and Gladys Wright House is the only Wright residence based on the same spiral concept as the Guggenheim Museum, and boasts a unique coiled, concrete façade. The property was purchased in June 2012 by 8081 from J T Morning Glory Enterprises, who had placed the house on the market in 2011 after it sat unoccupied for two years.
Currently, the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy is working to avoid losing the home by searching for a new buyer who would purchase the property intact from the developers. They are also exploring the possibility of multiple buyers purchasing the house to gain immediate control over the property, and then transitioning to a sole owner for long-term preservation.
“We think that such a buyer would value the house as is, and restore it and perhaps the original citrus orchard that surrounded the house,” says Janet Halstead, executive director of the Conservancy.
Since they heard about the demolition possibility, the Conservancy has been working to get approval for historic preservation/landmark designation from the city of Phoenix, buying more time to save the home. No demolition permit can be granted while historic preservation designation is being considered, and if it is approved, an automatic one-year delay will be applied to any demolition permit request; landmark status ups it to three years.
The Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy urges supporters to send letters pushing for these designations to the mayor, individual councilmen, the Historic Preservation Commission of Phoenix or the Phoenix Planning Commission. For more information, or to sign a petition to help save the David and Gladys Wright House, visit SaveWright.org.