Frank Lloyd Wright is having more than a moment: No fewer than eight of his buildings were recently put on UNESCO’s World Heritage List, while the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust just announced plans for a 5,000-square-foot visitor and education pavilion at its Oak Park site, plus the addition of a landscaped plaza and upgrades to its historic Wright buildings.
The Frank Lloyd Wright Trust is also stepping up its suite of domestic and overseas excursions through its Travel Wright program. Most Wright fans will have visited at least one of his buildings, be it the Guggenheim Museum in New York or the newly restored Robie House in Chicago, but these curated trips offer a more immersive experience. The packages don’t come cheap, but then neither does the cost of preserving Wright’s extraordinary and prolific legacy. “These excursions offer a benefit to our 2,500 members,” says trust president and CEO Celeste Adams. Members enjoy a reduced rate.
Next year’s program of trips includes, for the first time, Mexico. Wright had an enduring fascination with pre-Columbian art and architecture as found in the ruins of the Yucatán Peninsula. Not only are these pre-Columbian influences seen in Wright’s California houses, which embrace indoor-outdoor living, but also in his projects further afield, specifically in Japan—to which Travel Wright returns in 2020.
“We started out in Japan in 2005 for the centenary of Wright’s own first journey there,” says Risa Sekiguchi, who manages the Travel Wright program. “Between 1905 and 1922, Wright traveled to Japan seven times and designed more than a dozen projects, including Tokyo’s Imperial Hotel, our initial base for the 2020 trip.” Wright redesigned the Imperial Hotel in a Mayan Revival style using concrete blocks and carved Oya (a soft volcanic stone). Aware of Japan’s earthquakes, he “floated” the entire structure on top of the alluvial soil. On the very day of the hotel’s opening, in 1923, a mighty earthquake struck the Tokyo region, razing much of the city, yet not the Imperial.
Eventually the Imperial succumbed to rising property prices during the 1960s, but the front entrance and lobby were moved to an architectural open-air museum near Nagoya. The trip itinerary proceeds to his Yamamura House, overlooking the city of Kobe. Designed in 1918, this 4,000-square-foot, four-level residence is now the only extant Wright house in Japan. Special access was granted despite an ongoing restoration project. The Kobe part of the trip won’t neglect the meltingly soft local beef, either—cooked tableside for trip attendees.
Since 2005, Travel Wright has selected destinations with architecture that either influenced Wright or was influenced by him: England and Scotland, Spain, Austria, and Belgium. Next year, it adds the Netherlands. “Wright had a huge impact on Dutch Modernist and the De Stijl movement,” says Frans Henk Hoekstra, a Dutch art historian who is helping guide the trip there in June.
And those wishing to stay in Wright’s homeland won’t be disappointed either. The Autumn Sonata itinerary built around Fallingwater for next October offers an in-depth tour of Wright’s most famous project (plus a private visit to nearby Kentuck Knob). If ever a building was worthy of UNESCO World Heritage status, it was this. travelwright.org
Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest