The Aline Barnsdall Hollyhock House in the East Hollywood neighborhood of Los Angeles, California, was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright originally as a residence for oil heiress Aline Barnsdall (built, 1919–1921). In July 2019, along with seven other buildings designed by Wright in the 20th century, it was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List. It is the first time modern American architecture has been recognized on the World Heritage List.
The Hollyhock House is noted for developing an influential architectural aesthetic, which combined indoor and outdoor living spaces. Сommissioned by aline barnsdall and designed by frank lloyd wright, one of the greatest american architects of the twentieth century. Hollyhock House is named for Barnsdall’s favorite flower, the hollyhock. Wright created stylized representations of the hollyhock plant throughout the house, which include the ornamental art stone, textiles, furniture, and striking art glass.
Hollyhock House’s innovative plan and bold aesthetic were catalysts for the modern California architecture movement. Schindler and Lloyd Wright both became influential design pioneers and inspired other notable figures to establish their architecture practices in Los Angeles, including Richard Neutra, Gregory Ain, and John Lautner.
In 1963, Hollyhock House was recognized as a Historic-Cultural Monument by the City of Los Angeles. In 1971, the building was listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The United States Department of the Interior designated Hollyhock House a National Historic Landmark in 2007. In 2019, Hollyhock House was inscribed as the first UNESCO World Heritage Site in Los Angeles.
The building is now the centerpiece of the city’s Barnsdall Art Park. Hollyhock House joins Yosemite National Park and Redwood National and State Parks as the third site in California with the distinguished UNESCO status. It is one of eight seminal Wright buildings that were collectively recognized as UNESCO’s first modern architecture designation in the United States.
In 2012, Hollyhock House underwent an extensive restoration of the public rooms, which reopened to visitors in 2015. Hollyhock House is the only Frank Lloyd Wright residence in Los Angeles open to the public. Тhe home’s vibrant history and alluring architectural features with more than 43,000 annual visitors.
Featuring a decorative motif inspired by Barnsdall’s favorite flower, Hollyhock House is an extraordinary and early expression of Southern California architecture. Wright referred to his design for the house as “California Romanza,” from a musical term meaning “freedom to make one’s own form.”
The house is monumental in form, yet it seamlessly integrates the indoors with outdoor gardens and living spaces. Its structural system predates the textile-block system Wright would use in his other Los Angeles houses.
As with many of Wright’s residences, it has an “introverted” exterior with windows that seem hidden from the outside, and is not easy to decode from the outside. The house is arranged around a central courtyard with one side open to form a kind of theatrical stage (never used as such), and a complex system of split levels, steps and roof terraces around that courtyard.
The design features exterior walls that are tilted back at 85 degrees (which helps provide a “Mayan” appearance sometimes referred to as the Mayan Revival style), leaded art glass in the windows, a grand fireplace with a large abstract bas-relief, and a moat. Water is meant to flow from a pool in the courtyard through a tunnel to this inside moat, and out again to a fountain.
In response to Barnsdall’s request for a “half house, half garden”, the home is arranged around a central courtyard. At one end it opens to a circular pool with a fountain in the middle, which is wrapped by semi-circular seating. The front doors are stepped similarly to the entryway. The split doors rest on pins and swing open easily despite their massive weight. The keyhole is concealed with a decorative flap.
Each of the rooms inside the house also leads out to a variety of external spaces, including porches, pergolas and a narrow pool. The upper level provides access to rooftop terraces, which are linked by bridges and staircases and offer impressive views to Los Angeles basin and the Hollywood Hills. These are some of a series of ornamental features in the house, including a large concrete-bas relief fireplace that forms the centre of the living room.
Inside, spaces transition from tight corridors to large and open-plan rooms. Once completed, the huge house included seventeen rooms and seven bathrooms. The interior is remarkable throughout, the living-room hearth—topped by a skylight and integrating a seemingly floating hearthstone, bas-relief stone mural, and wood-slat screen—provides a particularly dramatic focal point.
The hollyhock (Aline Barnsdale’s favorite flower) is used as a central theme to the house, with many symmetrical decorations adapting the plant’s general appearance. Planters are decorated with the motif and filled with the plants themselves, and Wright’s stained glass windows feature a highly stylized hollyhock pattern. An interesting feature is the mitered glass corners at the windows; an early idea Wright later used at Fallingwater.
Hollyhock House features an entertainment room immediately to the right of the entrance. This room contains possibly the first built-in entertainment center, complete with LP-sized cabinets along the floor. Other notable rooms include a child’s play area as well as a modernist kitchen, which long housed the museum gift shop.
Like many houses designed by Wright, it proved to be better as an aesthetic work than as a livable dwelling. Water tended to flow over the central lawn and into the living room, and the flat roof terraces were conceived without an understanding of Los Angeles’ rains. The cantilevered concrete also did not stand up well to the area’s earthquakes.
There were a considerable number of revisions. Two smaller structures, called Studio Residence A and B, were built on the grounds. Residence A still stands. The client also commissioned a private kindergarten which was never built. The property also includes a smaller building designed by modernist architect Richard Neutra.
The World Heritage List is a register of the planet’s most exceptional and irreplaceable cultural and natural sites. There are more than 1,000 World Heritage sites around the world, and the group of eight Wright sites included in The 20th-Century Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright is now among only 24 sites in the United States. The series represents the first modern architecture designation in the country on the prestigious list.
Hollyhock House is the primary illustration in the series of the transformation of inspirations from other places and cultures. This highly unified design is a model for the modern interpretation of indigenous forms. It was designed and built in Hollywood during 1918-1921 as the movie industry was becoming established there. In contrast to the primarily externally applied, “exotic” ornament of Art Deco, this house features a fundamental form that recalls ancient Meso-America. Its ornamentation, while suited to the theatricality of its setting and its use as an arts complex as well as a residence, is integral to the form.
The 20th-Century Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright includes eight major works located across the country and spanning 50 years of Wright’s 70-year career.
This group of Wright’s works best exemplifies the architect’s artistic genius and extraordinary contribution to modern architecture and culture. The 50-year period covered by the sites in this nomination is one characterized by dramatic technological and social change. In both in the United States and abroad, effects of industrialization had a significant impact on people, and these buildings represent new solutions to the needs for housing, worship, work, education and leisure.
The buildings reflect the “organic architecture” developed by Wright, characteristics of which include an open plan, a blurring of the boundaries between exterior and interior, and the novel use of materials such as steel and concrete. Wright’s work from this period had a strong impact on the development of modern architecture internationally, and has inspired many other architects through today.