Landmark Preservation Versus Ownership

Vanna Venturi House / Robert Venturi; © Maria Buszek

After years of disconcerting reports that the historic David and Gladys Wright House by Frank Lloyd Wright was under threat of demolition by developers, we announced that a generous benefactor saved it from its fate by providing funds to buy back the property. It seems that this particular story is not unique. An article on ArchRecord by Frank A. Bernstein lists several other modern architecture treasures that may soon fall under the same threat as they hit the real estate market.

Find out more after the break.

David and Gladys Wright House / Frank Lloyd Wright; Courtesy of Time, Inc. via the Frank Lloyd Wright News Blog

Whose responsibility is it to preserve and maintain these homes? Is this a societal pursuit made by arbitrary distinctions on what most deserves our attention? In the aforementioned case of the David and Gladys Wright house by Frank Lloyd Wright, the granddaughters of the renowned architect sold their home into the hands of developers that had no intention of preserving the house. The property was eventually bought by a benefactor that donated it to a preserving agency after the architecture community and Landmark Preservation Council spurred interest in its preservation. (Read the full story here)

The story of Wright's house is just one of many. Frank Bernstein relates the different ways in which residents of these homes and the architects may react to their potential demolition. In the case of House VI, Eisenman appears to be resigned to the home's potential fate, which is fair tp the present owners of the house who do not want to restrict their sales prospects by setting up a landmark easement. In contrast, the Vanna Venturi House by Robert Venturi will be renovated before it is sold to prolong its preservation, an effort that has turned into a collaboration between present owner and architect.

Ultimately, these houses are private property, commissioned by private clients with the architects of their choosing. At what point does that level of ownership transition into the public realm? At what point does the public have jurisdiction over the house's fate? This can lead us into even more questions concerning what an architect has copyright to - the drawings, concepts, sketches, materials, process, final product? Which part of it is owned by the client, by the architect, by the contractor, or by the party that eventually buys the property and who ultimately decides its fate?

via Arch Record

About this author
Cite: Irina Vinnitskaya. "Landmark Preservation Versus Ownership" 08 May 2013. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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