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Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House becomes L.A.’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site

Frank Lloyd Wright's Hollyhock House becomes L.A.'s first UNESCO World Heritage Site

The Hollyhock House designed by Frank Lloyd Wright , a building that was almost demolished in the 1940s, earned Los Angeles its first UNESCO World Heritage Site designation Sunday.

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Built between 1918 and 1921 on a hill in Hollywood, the house joins Wright’s more famous creations — the spiral-shaped Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City, Fallingwater in Pennsylvania, and Taliesin West in Scottsdale, Ariz. — that collectively recognize the genius of Wright’s architecture as a cultural global treasure.

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Advertisement Eight of Wright’s buildings nationwide represent the first U.S. modern architecture designations on the World Heritage list.

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The living room, circa 2011 before the most recent renovation, of Frank Lloyd Wright‘s Hollyhock House. (Ann Johansson / Corbis via Getty Images) Why Frank Lloyd Wright‘s Los Angeles houses deserve a closer look » Also included in the eight designated buildings are the Unity Temple in Oak Park, Ill.; the Frederick C. Robie House in Chicago; Taliesin in Spring Green, Wis.; and Herbert and Katherine Jacobs House in Madison, Wis.

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The Hollyhock House is named for stylized motifs of the flower of the same name that dominate the concrete house’s exterior. It was said to be the favorite flower of Aline Barnsdall, an oil heiress who engaged Wright to build her a hilltop community on what is now Barnsdall Park

The interior of Frank Lloyd Wright‘s Hollyhock House in Hollywood. (Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times) Tour Frank Lloyd Wright homes in California that rarely open to the public » The house marked a change for Wright from his Prairie-style creations. Former L.A. Times architecture critic and now L.A.’s chief design officer Christopher Hawthorne wrote in 2017 that Hollyhock House was one of five Wright houses in L.A. that are underappreciated and largely misunderstood

And he described the architect’s change in style

Hollyhock House has undergone restorations since the 1940s, when it was almost demolished. (Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times) «It features a number of nods to Mayan architecture, including a horizontal band of carved ornament under the roofline. With its walled interior court, the house also owes a clear debt to Spanish Revival architecture.»

The Barnsdall project proved problematic for Wright. With cost overruns and incomplete buildings, the oil heiress fired the famed architect. Another architect who would create his own L.A. legacy, Rudolf Schindler, was working under Wright as project manager for the Hollyhock House. He was hired to finish the home. Wright’s son, Lloyd Wright, also worked on the house

Visitors wear booties to protect the floors and carpets inside Hollyhock House. (Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times) Barnsdall never really lived in the Hollyhock House and donated it to the City of Los Angeles in 1927

In the 1940s, the house had deteriorated, was boarded up and was almost demolished. Instead, the city embarked on a series of major renovations that would last decades. It opened to the public in 1976

In 2015, the city completed a four-year, $4.3-million restoration to the grounds and the home. Visitors now tour the outside gardens (which include plantings of hollyhocks) and wear protective booties before they entire the house. (Tickets cost $7 for self-guided tour and an additional $7 for a docent tour.)

In 2016, a group of Wright buildings were considered for UNESCO World Heritage Site status. The most recent nomination dropped the Price Tower in Bartlesville, Okla., built 1953-56, and the Marin County Civic Center in San Rafael, built from 1960 to ’69

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