Save the David and Gladys Wright House
  • Petitioned CITY OF PHOENIX

This petition was delivered to:

CITY OF PHOENIX

Save the David and Gladys Wright House

    1. Petition by

      Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy

  1.  
  2.   
January 2013

Victory

A new chapter opens in 2013 for the David and Gladys Wright House!

1.9.13
The Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy is enormously gratified that the David and Gladys Wright House is now in the hands of a new owner intent on preservation rather than potential development. This benefactor who rescued the site through a December 20 purchase is now involved in careful planning for the house and its new educational mission. In the first half of 2013 a newly formed not-for-profit, working with the benefactor, will develop a vision for the house and the site, a comprehensive restoration plan and a more detailed use and operating plan. The Conservancy continues to be a part of these discussions. The owner has recently requested that the City of Phoenix postpone a landmark designation action until a longer term and more complete vision for the house can be presented. We understand and support this goal. Landmark designation under the Phoenix ordinance only results in a three-year stay of demolition. This property deserves long-term protection, such as a permanent easement, which we believe can be achieved by working with the new owner. The Conservancy will continue to assist the new owner and the City of Phoenix as these next steps are taken.

It took seven months of work to save the house. Planning for its future is likely to require significant time as well but the David and Gladys Wright House is launched on an exciting new path which includes the possibility that more people might be able to enjoy this unique building that has had a very private past.

12.20.12
Culminating six months of intensive work, the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy can finally announce that this unique and important Wright house is safe! The Conservancy has facilitated the purchase of the David and Gladys Wright House through an LLC (Limited Liability Company) owned by an anonymous benefactor. The transaction closed on December 20 for an undisclosed price. The property will be transferred to an Arizona not-for-profit organization responsible for the restoration, maintenance and operation of the David Wright House. The threat of demolition is removed and the house has a bright future. This is a Holiday/New Year’s gift to all lovers of modern architecture! We continue to urge the city to approve landmark status for the building. Even though the building is not in danger it deserves this designation.


Thank you to everyone who supported this petition! More details on the Conservancy website.

A remarkable Frank Lloyd Wright house in Phoenix is under threat of demolition. Wright designed the house for his son David and it is unique among all his residential designs. Your support is needed to urge the City of Phoenix to approve historic preservation designation for the house thereby extending its temporary protection from demolition.

Background
One of Frank Lloyd Wright’s most innovative, unusual and personal works of architecture. Built in 1950-52, it is the only residence by the world-famous architect that is based on the circular spiral plan of the Guggenheim Museum in New York, whose construction followed it by six years. When the house was first published in 1953, it was stated that no other Wright house since Fallingwater was as praiseworthy and remarkable. Since then its reputation has only increased and several architectural historians and architecture critics consider it to be among the 20 most significant Wright buildings. The spatial design, the processional movement through the patio and along the spiral ramp, the custom-designed concrete-block detailing, and the total interior design all give this house a spectacular expression especially appropriate to the desert environment.
                             -Neil Levine, architectural historian and Harvard professor

When it learned in May that the house had been purchased by developers who had indicated their intention to bulldoze the structure and build two “luxury homes,” the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy requested the City of Phoenix to grant historic preservation and landmark designation to the house. A number of local organizations, including the Arizona Preservation Foundation and the Phoenix chapter of the American Institute of Architects, as well as national organizations such as the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Society of Architectural Historians endorsed the Conservancy’s appeal. In mid-June the city’s Planning Commission voted unanimously to initiate consideration of a preservation designation, an action that triggers a delay in approval of a demolition permit. However, such a delay is only temporary.

For this reason the Conservancy and its preservation partners are mounting a campaign to find a suitable, preservation-minded buyer or buyers for the property and working to urge the Phoenix City Council to approve landmark and historic preservation designation for the house. Consideration of this designation by various commissions is scheduled now and through November when it will reach the City Council for a decision.

For almost 40 years no intact Wright building has been intentionally demolished. The Conservancy works every day to avoid deliberate destruction or demolition by neglect of Wright’s built work.

Wright is widely considered to be America’s greatest architect. In a remarkable career spanning over 70 years, he created over 1,100 designs, more that 500 of which were built. His buildings have been recognized internationally as among the most significant structures of the 20th century. He created a modern building aesthetic that powerfully affected the course of architecture around the world as well as in the United States, inspiring generations of architects. His body of work constitutes an irreplaceable cultural treasure. The general public often assumes that Wright’s buildings are protected legally or are untouchable due to the significance of his work in the development of modern architecture. Periodic threats to Wright buildings, such as the current one to the David and Gladys Wright House, demonstrate that is not the case.

Please make your voice heard and urge the City of Phoenix to approve landmark and historic preservation designation. Approval will ensure that no demolition will take place during a 12-36 month period (depending on what level of designation is approved) and allow time to develop a long-term solution to preserve this important piece of architecture.

Loss of the David Wright House would be tragic – an irreparable blow to architectural preservation and Wright’s legacy. Please join us by signing the petition today!

For more information visit the Conservancy’s website.

The Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy, a Chicago-based preservation organization founded over 20 years ago, works to preserve all of Wright’s built designs.

Recent signatures

    News

    1. A new chapter opens in 2013 for the David and Gladys Wright House! - 1.9.13

      The Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy is enormously gratified that the David and Gladys Wright House is now in the hands of a new owner intent on preservation rather than potential development. This benefactor who rescued the site through a December 20 purchase is now involved in careful planning for the house and its new educational mission. In the first half of 2013 a newly formed not-for-profit, working with the benefactor, will develop a vision for the house and the site, a comprehensive restoration plan and a more detailed use and operating plan. The Conservancy continues to be a part of these discussions. The owner has recently requested that the City of Phoenix postpone a landmark designation action until a longer term and more complete vision for the house can be presented. We understand and support this goal. This property deserves long-term protection, such as a permanent easement, which we believe can be achieved by working with the new owner.

    2. David and Gladys Wright House Saved! - 12.20.12

      Culminating six months of intensive work, we can finally announce that this unique and important Wright house is safe! The Conservancy has facilitated the purchase of the David and Gladys Wright House through an LLC (Limited Liability Company) owned by an anonymous benefactor. The transaction closed on December 20 for an undisclosed price. The property will be transferred to an Arizona not-for-profit organization responsible for the restoration, maintenance and operation of the David Wright House. The threat of demolition is removed and the house has a bright future. This is a Holiday/New Year’s gift to all lovers of modern architecture!
      Thank you to everyone who supported this petition! More details on the Conservancy website.

    3. David Wright Vote Delayed - 12.5.2012

      The Phoenix City Council voted on Dec. 5 to delay a vote on the David Wright House until January 16, but that date could also change. There were some complications noted with council members' schedules that may force a revised date. Stay tuned. In the meantime, the Conservancy and its special taskforce continue to work behind-the-scenes talking with Council members, working with the mayor’s office and developing additional possible buyers. The process has become a marathon, instead of a sprint, and the Conservancy has developed a great working group of local experts and committed Phoenix residents.

    4. Preservation-minded Buyer Still Sought for David Wright House - 11.14.12

      The path to new ownership for the David and Gladys Wright House took another turn on November 12. The full purchase price offer that was announced on October 31 was withdrawn by the potential buyer who remains unnamed publicly as well as unknown to the Conservancy.

      Representatives of the potential buyer released the following statement:

      “While the prospective buyer strongly supports efforts to preserve the David and Gladys Wright house, he has concluded that for personal and business reasons, this is not an opportunity he will pursue at this time.”

      The Conservancy maintained prior contacts with other potential buyers throughout this two-week period of the announced pending purchase and is pursuing those possibilities and additional options. Simultaneously and together with our Phoenix partner organizations we continue to seek City Council approval of landmark designation. The next Council vote is scheduled for December 5.

    5. City Council Vote Delayed for David Wright House – 11.8.12

      As expected the Phoenix City Council voted on November 7 to delay the vote on Landmark designation for the David and Gladys Wright House. The item will come back to the agenda at the December 5 meeting. Because of a pending contract to purchase the David Wright House (by a still unnamed buyer) the Council postponed action with the hope that the pending sale will close before the next meeting and that owner consent will be obtained, thereby avoiding a conflict over the past practice of obtaining consent prior to designation. Once again Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton was very supportive of preservation.

      Conservancy representatives were invited to make brief comments and once again emphasized the importance of approving landmark designation, and thanked the city and the local organizations and residents for their support for preserving this important Wright house.

    6. Potential New Owner for the David Wright House - 11.2.12

      An offer to purchase the David Wight House has been made and accepted. The sale has not yet closed and the buyer’s name has not been disclosed. We do not yet know the identity or the intentions of the perspective new owner.
      The City Council has not yet voted on landmark designation of the house, which remains an important objective regardless of the ownership.

      More details will be posted as they become available.

    7. One Step Closer to Landmark Designation - 10.4.12

      Three formal City of Phoenix commissions/committees have recommended Landmark designation for the David and Gladys Wright House. Sincere thanks to members of the Historic Preservation Commission, Camelback East Village Planning Committee, and Planning Commission – and to the dozens of citizens who attended and testified at each meeting – for these positive steps. The Phoenix City Council, comprised of eight council members and the mayor, will make their next decision on Nov. 7.

      The Conservancy and its local partners continue to work for Council approval of Landmark status. In addition we are working to seek additional buyer/buyers for the property. Prior offers have been made but rejected by the owners. If granted Landmark status any demolition permit would be delayed for three years allowing time to find a lasting solution. The city staff has declared that it is “the most significant work within the city of Phoenix by the most significant architect in American History."

    8. A Very Positive Step - 9.27.12

      On September 17, 2012 the Historic Preservation Commission of the city of Phoenix voted unanimously to recommend landmark designation for the David and Gladys Wright House. That is the first of three bodies that will provide recommendations before the City Council makes the decision on November 7. The Historic Preservation Commission’s recommendation is key to support for landmarking the building but the recommendations from the Camelback East Village Planning Committee and the city’s Planning Commission (on Oct 2 and Oct 9 respectively) also are extremely important. The Conservancy and its local partners continue to work to secure these additional recommendations and to secure City Council approval of landmark status. Landmark status means any demolition permit would be delayed for three years. In the meantime, the Conservancy is also in discussions with potential buyers.

    9. Reached 25,000 signatures

    Supporters

    Reasons for signing

    • James Anwyl AUSTRALIA
      • over 1 year ago

      In my studies to become an architect I studied much of Lloyds career - both by direction and through my own interest - and so it is important to me that the legacy of those we study as moments in contemporary history are not destroyed before they can become immortalized over time as relics of a distant architectural era.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Dick O'Connor TORONTO, CANADA
      • over 1 year ago

      mR. wRIGHT'S IDEAS CONTINUE TO INSPIRE NEW ARCHITECTURE

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • James Gold SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY
      • over 1 year ago

      As a retired museum director and active preservationist, there is no question in my mind of the architectural significance and landmark status of this building.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Richard Pinkham SAN FRANCISCO, CA
      • over 1 year ago

      A general interest in preserving great design.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Mary Gallardo-Melgar CHICAGO, IL
      • almost 2 years ago

      Love his design and would love for my sons to be inspired by this structure one day.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:

    Develop your own tools to win.

    Use the Change.org API to develop your own organizing tools. Find out how to get started.