Controversy over Frank Lloyd Wright Home
In 1952, an 84 year-old Frank Lloyd Wright designed a home in the Arcadia District of Phoenix for one of his son's and daughter-in-law. Recently, the home was purchased by attorney Zach Rawling who grew up nearby. His purchase most likely saved the house from being bulldozed. Rawling subsequently set up The David and Gladys Wright Foundation to preserve the house and open it for tours as a museum. If plans are approved, Rawling intends to deed the house and property over to the foundaton.
After purchasing some adjacent properties in an effort to create an appropriate surrounding, Rawling also leased offsite parking from a nearby church. Additionally, he is proposing an event center, gift shop, and café. All are undergound, to help preserve the grounds.
Nevertheless, some of the neighbors are unhappy. In particular, Peter Sperling, the son of University of Phoenix founder, is conducting an active campaign opposing the project. Evidently, he's OK with preserving the house for the neighborhood, just not with letting the rest of us have an opportunity to visit. In a letter to the Arizona Republic. Sperling writes about Frank Lloyd Wright's desire to blend into the “natural beauty.” I don't know whether he's referring to all the native citrus trees or the sprawling homes of Phoenix's Arcadia District:
“His gorgeous works did more than just fit in with the existing land and environment — they exalted them. He did not construct buildings to stick out of nearby mountains like sore thumbs, but rather to blend into them and reflect the natural beauty that existed there already.”
Of course, perhaps Wright's most famous and loved building is The Guggenheim Museum in New York City which hardly blends into the “natural beauty” of Manhattan's Upper Eastside.
The Wright House in Arcadia is a stunning home, but it can hardly be claimed that this house blends into the neighborhood. Neighbors, while thankful that Rawling saved the house from destruction, are primarily concerned about what its commercialization will mean. It will be interesting to see if the community and Rawling and his foundation will find common ground. Utlimately, the city will determine whether they are going to issue the permits necessary to proceed with the project.
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