In July, UNESCO added eight Frank Lloyd Wright buildings to its World Heritage List. Although the eight represent a small fraction of the total number of structures designed by the renowned architect, they offer a reasonable sample of Wright’s distinctive style. Seven of the eight Frank Lloyd Wright sites are open to public touring and viewing, at least at select times. Six are within major metro areas; the other two are remote but easily accessed.
Wright designed Fallingwater between 1935 and 1936 as a private weekend residence for wealthy Pittsburgh department store owner Edgar Kaufmann and his family. It’s located in the Bear Ridge Nature Reserve, in the Laurel Highlands area of southwestern Pennsylvania. The house is built over Bear Run Creek and incorporates a waterfall as part of the design. In 1963, Edgar Kaufmann Jr. donated Fallingwater to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.
Fallingwater is 43 miles southeast of Pittsburgh. Although the Amtrak Capitol Limited stops once daily at Connelsville, about 12 miles away, the easiest way to get there is to drive. Fallingwater tours operate from March 9 through December 31.
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Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, focused on “non-objective” painting and other modern art schools, opened in 1959. Its unique architectural feature is a prime exhibit space that is a continuous eight-story spiral circling a large open atrium. You take an elevator to the top, then wind downward. The museum has added additional space over the years since it opened.
The museum is at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 88th Street on Manhattan’s Upper East Side and is accessible via bus, subway, taxi, and ride-share. It’s just four blocks uptown from the Metropolitan Museum of Art and open daily, with evening hours on select days of the week.
The Aline Barnsdall Hollyhock House in Los Angeles is a residence completed in 1921 for oil heiress Aline Barnsdall. It is the centerpiece of the surrounding Barnsdall Art Park. Although its spare design is classic Wright, it’s a substantial departure from the more prevalent “Usonian” design of Fallingwater and other residences. It features a central courtyard surrounded by various levels and terraces. The complete complex includes an outbuilding and an art museum added later. Ms Barnsdall donated it to the City of Los Angeles in 1927.
The art park, including Hollyhock House, occupies a block extending south from Hollywood Boulevard to Barnsdale Avenue, between Edgemont and Vermont. Reach it by car, bus, or metro. Hollyhock House is operated by the Barnsdale Art Park Foundation and is open to the public Thursday through Sunday.
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Wright built the Frederick C. Robie House in 1910 for a local Chicago businessman and his family. It is considered the first in a long series of prairie-style Frank Lloyd Wright buildings. At 9,062 square feet, the house is large, with three stories, four fireplaces, three bedrooms, a separate guest bedroom, and separate billiards and play rooms. Ownership passed from a series of private individuals to the Chicago Theological Seminary in 1926. The Seminary came close to demolishing it in 1957, but public opposition stopped the project, and the house became the property of the University of Chicago.
Robie House is located at 5757 South Woodlawn Avenue, on Chicago‘s South side, amidst a handful of university buildings. It’s easily reached by public transit. Access is managed by the Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust, with public access Thursday through Monday. The Trust operates a variety of tours; buy tickets online in advance to avoid lines and possible disappointment.
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The original, or East, Taliesin served as Wright’s primary studio during much of the period from 1911 to his death in 1959. It’s an 800-acre compound of residences, student accommodations, studios, gardens, and a theater. The entire complex displays a range of Wright structures and designs.
Taliesin is in the small community of Spring Green, Wisconsin, about 40 miles west of Madison. It’s best reached by car. Tours, study programs, classes, concerts, dinners, and other public events are operated by Taliesin Preservation.
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Starting in 1937, Wright started to develop a warm-weather winter alternative to his Wisconsin complex. He and his apprentices and students developed Taliesin West, just outside of Scottsdale, Arizona, into a complex of buildings and facilities designed to be integral to the local desert landscape.
Taliesin West is about 35 minutes northeast of Phoenix. It’s best reached by car. A variety of tours are available, including evening visits, and the facility is open year-round.
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Wright designed Unity Temple, a Unitarian Universalist church, in 1905. It’s one of his earlier works and an exemplar of the use of reinforced concrete that Wright employed in so many subsequent designs. It includes two separate public areas—one for worship services, one for community events—separated by a loggia. It has been an active church continuously since 1980, although it has passed through several restorations.
The Temple is at 875 Lake Street in Oak Park, Illinois, close to Wright’s original studio just outside Chicago. It’s accessible via public transit and open for tours on most days, outside of religious services. Advance reservations are strongly advised.
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Herbert Jacobs House
The Herbert Jacobs House is a small (1,500 square feet) residence for a local newspaperman and his wife, completed in 1937. The owner challenged Wright to build a home for $5,000; Wright responded with an L-shaped design with two bedrooms, considered to be the first of Wright’s many “Usonian” houses. It is currently owned by a private occupant, but you can still stop by to see the exterior.
The Jacobs house is in a residential district of Madison, Wisconsin, at 441 Toepfer Avenue, about four miles from the State Capitol. It’s accessible via bus and car. Wright in Wisconsin, an organization that features tours to many regional Wright designs, does not currently list Jacobs House as a stop on its occasional house tours.
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