The U.S. may soon have some new World Heritage sites to celebrate and visit, as Interior Secretary Sally Jewell this week said her agency is nominating a group of 10 buildings in seven states designed by American architect Frank Lloyd Wright for inclusion on the World Heritage List, which recognizes the most significant cultural and natural sites on the planet.
"Through its World Heritage Sites the United States can share with the world the remarkable diversity of our cultural heritage as well as the beauty of our land,” Secretary Jewell said. “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.”
“World Heritage Sites draw visitors from around the world, providing not only prestige to local communities but also a boost to their economies,” Jewell added.
The nominated group, entitled “Key Works of Modern Architecture by Frank Lloyd Wright,” consists of 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.
This would be the first World Heritage listing for the United States in the field of modern architecture. The Wright works would join the Sydney Opera House, the city of Brasilia and the Bauhaus School in Germany as examples of modern architecture recognized on the list.
The nomination will be considered for inscription on the World Heritage List by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee in the summer of 2016. If approved by the World Heritage Committee, it would join 22 sites in the United States already inscribed on the World Heritage List. The most recent U.S. site is the Poverty Point State Historic Site in Louisiana, an archeological site that was inscribed in 2014.
A year ago, Secretary Jewell announced the nomination of San Antonio Missions, consisting of most of San Antonio Missions National Historical Park as well as the Alamo, for inclusion on the World Heritage List. The World Heritage Committee is reviewing the nomination and is expected to make a decision this summer.
The UNESCO World Heritage List was created as part of the World Heritage Convention, of which the United States was the prime architect. It is an international treaty for natural site conservation and cultural site preservation proposed by President Richard M. Nixon in 1972. The United States was the first nation to ratify it.
There are currently 1,007 sites in 161 of the 191 signatory countries. The list includes such iconic places as the Taj Mahal, Stonehenge and the Great Barrier Reef, as well as Yellowstone National Park, Grand Canyon National Park and the Statue of Liberty National Monument in the United States.
The Department of the Interior is undertaking the nomination with the full cooperation and written support of the property owners of each site. Each of the properties is designated as a National Historic Landmark. The owners and the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy prepared the nomination in consultation with the National Park Service’s Office of International Affairs, the principal technical agency for the U.S. Government’s participation in the Convention.
Inscription as a World Heritage Site does not impose any legal restrictions on property owners or neighbors of sites, nor does it give the United Nations any management authority or ownership rights in U.S. World Heritage Sites, which continue to be subject only to existing federal and local laws. The agreement of the property owner is required by U.S. law in order for a site in this country to be nominated to the World Heritage List.
The nomination will be submitted through the U.S. Department of State to the offices of the World Heritage Centre in Paris, France. After reviews by World Heritage Centre staff and by the International Council for Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), it will be considered for inscription on the World Heritage List by the World Heritage Committee, which is a rotating body of 21 nations elected from among the signatories of the World Heritage Convention.
As previously announced, the Department of the Interior plans to revise the candidate list, or Tentative List of potential future U.S. World Heritage nominations, by 2016. Interested parties may suggest properties for consideration at any time. For further information, please consult the National Park Service, Office of International Affairs webpage
To see the full list World Heritage Sites in the U.S. click here.