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Hollyhock House's UNESCO World Heritage Status Could Be Threatened By View-Blocking Development

The curator of the Hollyhock House, Frank Lloyd Wright's first house in Los Angeles, is worried that a six-story mixed-use development slated to rise near the landmark might screw up its chances at being added to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization World Heritage List; the Hollyhock was nominated for the honor last year, along with nine other FLW houses. The Los Feliz Ledger reports that the Hollyhock's curator, Jeffrey Herr, is concerned that the planned building, at 83 feet tall, would mess with the view from the site, which in turn would detract from what makes the house worthy of UNESCO landmarking.

"The view from this site is critical to its outstanding universal value," says Herr, citing one of the criteria that UNESCO will use to determine whether or not the Hollyhock House ultimately receives World Heritage Site status. "Outstanding universal value" does include the view from the site. The proposed structure would rise at Edgemont and Hollywood Boulevard in Los Feliz, to the northwest of the house, which sits atop a hill (Olive Hill) inside the Barnsdall Art Park.

There is already a building on the site where the mixed-user is expected, but Herr says "The current footprint blends in with everything around it." The new mixed-user would be "a huge visual blot on the landscape" at its proposed height, or even if the height was lowered. The planned six-story structure would hold 200 residential units, with 40 of those set aside for low-income tenants, and have commercial space on the ground floor. (The existing building holds 23 residential units, plus a restaurant, an office, and some parking lots.) The new structure is now moving through the city's Department of Planning, and needs some variances approved before it can proceed.

The LFL notes that an Orchard Supply Hardware store was approved to be built on the same block, and Herr doesn't seem to have any strong opinions about it. (He says the Hollyhock House doesn't know enough about the OSH to be for or against it, but doesn't expect it'll be a problem.) "We're only opposed to development that would negatively impact the historical value of the neighborhood," he says.

The Hollyhock House was commissioned by oil heiress Aline Barnsdall in the early 1920s. It was Frank Lloyd Wright's first house in Los Angeles, and was recently (and fabulously) restored and reopened to the public, who waited in supremely long lines to see it. If the building receives UNESCO World Heritage Site designation, it will be the only one in LA with the honor, and join other big-name landmarks like the Statue of Liberty, Yosemite National Park, the Great Wall of China, and the city of Venice, Italy. World Heritage Sites typically enjoy a hefty boost in tourism that benefits the local economy immensely, says Herr.
· New Development Could Hurt Hollyhock Heritage Status [LFL]
· A Full Tour Through Frank Lloyd Wright's First LA House, Restored to Its 1920s Beauty [Curbed LA]
· The Lines at the Reopening of Frank Lloyd Wright's Hollyhock House Were Totally Bananas [Curbed LA]
· Tour the 10 Frank Lloyd Wright Buildings Nominated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites [Curbed LA]