The Twentieth Century Society

Campaigning for outstanding buildings

What do you get when you cross the Villa Savoye with the Guggenheim Museum?

I’ve just been the 23,330th person to sign the on-line petition against the demolition of the David and Gladys Wright House in Phoenix, Arizona—please do the same at

Built by FLW in 1950-52 for his son, it’s an extraordinary structure—sort of Corbusier’s Villa Savoye meets the Guggenheim New York.  It’s got a circular ramp, and is raised up above the orange groves (or what were once orange groves—sounds like it’s now a pretty high value residential area).  There’s loads of info on i, and a great slide show of images if you follow the link to the New York Times.

I first heard about this on the World Service in the middle of the night…. woke up wondering if I had dreamed the whole thing (a rather worrying prospect), but it’s for real.

I am shocked to learn that in 2006 Arizona passed, Prop 207, which apparently means that property owners can seek  compensation  any time the government adopts some regulation that affects the value of their property ( a pretty big disincentive to put a preservation order on any building).  Apparently as yet no money has been paid out under the order, which presumably means that the government have just given up trying to regulate … across not only heritage issues but all sorts (?).  And, according to NYT, in Arizona “landmark status is really just a stay of execution, limited to three years. After that the owner is free to tear down the place.”   What’s needed is clearly a FLW-lover with a desire to move to Phoenix.  ASAP, because the current owners are property developers 8081 Meridian, who feel they have the go-ahead to knock it down as they have permission to split the plot it stands on into two and  “We didn’t close on the property until the city approved a lot split. The line through the property went through one end of the house, so it was an indirect approval for demolition.”  Oh dear.

(NB Having signed the petition, I got sent to another one, sponsored by Save the Children UK, drawing attention to “Horrific crimes against children are being committed in Syria’s conflict. Boys and girls are being killed, maimed and tortured.”….  I feel bad that this one has only got 8,481 but am resisting anymore signing….who knows where I might get led next….)


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