The World Heritage Committee of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) voted on July 17, 2016, to refer the United States’ submission to the World Heritage List for future consideration. This nomination of a collection of 10 buildings, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, includes Fallingwater.
Director of Fallingwater Lynda Waggoner attended UNESCO’s 40th World Heritage Committee (Committee) session in Istanbul, Turkey, July 15-17, 2016. The collection of 10 buildings in seven states represents the first modern architecture nomination from the United States to the World Heritage List. The Committee is responsible for inscribing natural and/or cultural sites from across the world to the World Heritage List that display outstanding universal value. The sites must also meet at least one out of ten selection criteria that reflect an extraordinary contribution to world heritage and modern culture.
“While we would have preferred the series be inscribed at this session, we feel the decision to refer is fair. A serial nomination like ours is a very complex undertaking and it is certainly not unusual for such nominations to be reworked multiple times before inscription is achieved,” said Waggoner. “We appreciate the opportunity to address the Committee’s concerns in the coming months and hope for inscription of the series in the near future.”
The “referral” reflects a desire by the Committee, on the advice of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), for a clearer justification for the selection of the 10 sites. According to Waggoner and others in the delegation representing Frank Lloyd Wright buildings, there was a strong sentiment among Committee members that the architecture of Wright is globally important, but that the nomination needs more work before it can be reconsidered for future inscription to the World Heritage List. Waggoner says that efforts to continue the nomination and address the Committee’s questions and concerns will commence soon.
“We plan to take a deep breath and then get to work assembling the additional information that has been requested,” she said.
Fallingwater is among a group of 10 buildings designed by Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959), widely considered to be the greatest American architect of the 20th century, to become the first works of modern architecture nominated by the United States in January 2015 to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage List.
The group of buildings included in the submission, entitled “Key Works of Modern Architecture by Frank Lloyd Wright,” are Unity Temple in Oak Park, Illinois; Frederick C. Robie House in Chicago, Illinois; Taliesin in Spring Green, Wisconsin; Hollyhock House in Los Angeles, California; Fallingwater in Mill Run, Pennsylvania; Herbert and Katherine Jacobs House in Madison, Wisconsin; Taliesin West in Scottsdale, Arizona; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City; Price Tower in Bartlesville, Oklahoma; and Marin County Civic Center in San Rafael, California. These buildings were built between 1906–1969 and chosen for their significance in the development of modern architecture. They are the most iconic, fully realized and innovative of more than 400 existing works by Frank Lloyd Wright. Each is a masterwork and together they show varied illustrations of “organic architecture” in their abstraction of form, use of new technologies and masterful integration of space, materials and site. All have been designated U.S. National Historic Landmarks.
Throughout his career, Wright expressed organic architecture by integrating buildings with the natural world, melding form with space to create spatial drama. Inspired by nature and technology and seeking an alternative to European models, he used materials and structural forms in often new and innovative ways that relate to the geographically diverse United States.
The U.S. Interior Department’s National Park Service manages all or part of 18 of the 24 World Heritage Sites currently in the United States. It is also the principal government agency responsible for implementing the World Heritage Convention, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of State, for submissions of sites in the U.S. to be considered for inclusion to the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy owns and operates Fallingwater. Fallingwater was entrusted to the Conservancy by Edgar Kaufmann jr. in October, 1963. Today, Fallingwater is a museum that is open to the public for tours and a wide variety of educational programs. On average, 150,000 visitors from around the world tour Fallingwater annually.