Frank Lloyd Wright house could be
shipped from US to Italy

| 14 comments

Frank Lloyd Wright Bachman Wilson House

News: a house in New Jersey designed in 1954 by the influential American architect Frank Lloyd Wright could be sold and moved as far away as Italy in order to save it from flood damage.

Homeowners Sharon and Lawrence Tarantino, who are themselves architects, hope to sell the Bachman Wilson house to a buyer willing to dismantle and transport the house away from its flood-prone site in Millstone, New Jersey.

"We have been here 25 years and over the past couple of years the flooding has become worse. We have to do what is best for the house," Sharon Tarantino told the Daily Telegraph.

Frank Lloyd Wright Bachman Wilson House

The asking price for the residence is £1 million, which includes the building and its furnishings as well as the estimated cost of moving it to a new location.

After plans to move the house to New York fell through, the couple got in touch with Italian architect Paolo Bulletti, who three years ago organised an exhibition in Fiesole, a town near Florence where Wright lived in 1910, to celebrate the centenary of the architect's time in the area.

"We have recognised that the Bachman Wilson House was designed after Wright's second visit to Fiesole in 1954 and there were many similarities to the design of his Fiesole house that was unbuilt," said Sharon Tarantino.

Frank Lloyd Wright Bachman Wilson House

The Tarantinos have now signed an exclusive agreement naming Bulletti as the Italian agent to research buyers for the property.

Although he has yet to find a site, Bulletti believes the mayors of Fiesole and Florence would be pleased to have the house, given Wright's connection to the region, though it is still unclear if planning regulations would permit the house to be used as a residence.

However, it could be "erected in protected land, a park or a garden as if it were a sculpture," Bulletti told the New York Times.

Frank Lloyd Wright Bachman Wilson House

"We want to know that it has a future if we are going to go to the trouble of dismantling it and moving it," said Sharon Tarantino. "We feel that wherever it goes, it has to have a connection to Wright."

We recently reported that a Wright house in Phoenix, Arizona, could be bulldozed unless a new buyer is found or the city agrees to grant landmark status to the property.

Meanwhile, a New York and Athens-based architecture firm provoked ire from commenters last month with its proposal to add 13 floors to Wright's famous spiralling Guggenheim Museum in New York – see all news about Frank Lloyd Wright.

Photographs are by Lawrence Tarantino.

  • Lill

    As we all know, Frank LLoyd Wright made his buildings to fit the site and made the surrounding contribute to the manifestation as much as the manifestation contribute to the surrounding.

    What I’m trying to say is, by removing the building from its original context it is one step to destroy/lose the essence or the meaning of this beauty. Well, I think this building had better deteriorate because of the flood rather than remove it from one context to another.

    • Kukubee

      Your argument is so beautiful and I totally agree.

    • JSG

      Or, even better, they could terra-form the new surrounding to mimic the original site.

      • SMO

        Site doesn’t only include the greenery and the things you directly see. Site includes sun, climate, city or town, people, trees, soil, ventilation, moisture, wind, vapor, etc. So, you could mimic the surrounding up to a point but that won’t suit. Wright was way smarter than creating a building to suit the greenery and what the eye directly views.

    • http://www.clearscapes.com Jon Z

      Frank Lloyd Wright also never visited this site. He sent an intern.

      Second, he ignored the neighboring architecture that had been erected over the course of the previous century, which set the buildings further away from the river, as clues to what the settlers had figured out over 300 years of (post)colonial settlement.

      He set the damn building back from the street, pretending he could return pastoralism to the site and ignore even the modest presence of man around the property. In turn he placed the structure 25 feet into the 100 year flood plane.

      How do I know? I worked on restoration of this structure a decade ago. Lawrence and Sharon understand the sensitivity of this issue and would NEVER remove a FLW building from its site unless they felt they had no choice.

      In the end, I doubt they will be able to move this except at an overall financial loss, demonstrating that they feel it’s more important to save the heritage than let it be swept away in the water. You may wish Wright to be the ultimate example of stitching a design to a place, but the guy was just as massively flawed as anyone.

  • ddset

    The site can be transported too… that would be next logical step.

  • http://www.localhomespot.com Evelyn M

    To loose a bit of history because the new site won’t be 100% perfect is too loose every piece of historical sculpture, art, fashion, tool etc etc. that is in existance.

    For example, when I paint a painting specifically for a room in a particular home, does that mean if the home has a fire in it the painting should stay behind and burn? I think not. If clothing designers design a dress for a specific woman, when she dies should the clothing be destroyed? I think not. If a sculpture was created with a specific park in mind and a road is going to be built right where the sculpture resides, should the piece be destroyed? I think not.

    The argument of leaving the Wright house to get flood-damaged is a pointless, short-sighted egotistical statement. Whoever wrote it obviously would like every piece of climate controlled parchment, artwork, tool etc be removed from their museum conditions and left out in the air to rot.

    • Irving Washington

      None of your analogies address the vital connection of a piece of architecture to its site. (Analogies are almost always weak because one has to provide an instance where all the parameters are the same whilst ensuring that instance more obviously proves their point. This is difficult to do and more often that not people begin to construct straw man fallacies – eg removing a preserved parchment from a controlled environment is not at all similar to wholly preserving a work of architecture by allowing it to remain on its site).

      The question of preservation and exhibiting is far more complex than you, and some of the other commenters, suggest. Does it matter if we lose parts of history? Isn’t this completely natural, normal and inevitable? Can we save every piece of art? When do we start letting go of ‘great works’? Is saving it by moving it really, legitimately saving the work – or is it destroying it more than allowing the nature that it was built in response to have its way? Would it be possible to protect the surrounding area from flooding more robustly?

      Utmost sensitivity must be employed when talking about the conservation of such works. Personally, I don’t think it should be left to be flood damaged. This doesn’t mean, however, that I think it should be wrenched from its site. Perhaps in the grey area between these ‘solutions’ lies an answer. Nevertheless, it appears it is too late.

      • http://www.clearscapes.com Jon Z

        Architecture has been erected, moved and re-erected since the dawn of time. It’s a matter of resources and will. Does moving it make it problematic with Wright’s polemics? Absolutely. But throwing up earthworks, despite the impracticality of the actual site conditions, does just as much to change the conditions that were in the mind of the creator when it was conceived.

        The question is more relative. Do we wish to save it TODAY? And if so, and if the resources are present, then do everything possible that you can.

        In Raleigh, North Carolina, last Friday (1 March 2013) they tore down a contemporary (search “Paschal House”) of the Bachman Wilson House. Not because of weathering or being flood-prone, but because the children of the deceased clients now wish to subdivide the lot and allow three McMansions to be constructed. This was after years of the preservationist and architectural communities appealing to their good senses – of which there were none.

        So here we have an interesting dilemma: are both equally wrong? Is it a matter of degree? Or, perhaps, in a world with less absolutes, we look to the do the best we can with that which is worth holding up as examples of mankind’s best work.

        • http://www.localhomespot.com Evelyn M

          Exactly :)

      • http://www.localhomespot.com Evelyn M

        There is never an exact analogy, not even in a parellel universe. My analogies still, however, offer a point of view of removing site specific items in order to preserve them.

        Your argument that moving the buiding destroys the art behind it is false. Landscape is an ever-changing environment and the land the building sits on today is not the land it sat on when it was constructed, so by your argument, the buiding has already failed in its purpose, therefore moving it should make no difference. You can only preserve things – buildings or parchment – by encasing them in a controlled environment.

  • sin

    Clearly wasn’t designed to suit the context. If it had, then it wouldn’t have been under threat from flood waters. Just saying… everyone makes mistakes, money talks in the world we live in and it may be worthwhile taking it to Italy or whichever country will value this piece of history.

    • http://www.localhomespot.com Evelyn M

      Ocean levels have been changing. Many buildings around the world are threatened by the rise in water levels.

  • Lohen Grinn

    Interesting points being put forward here re the issue of conservation.

    Personally, I am not wholly against the removal of architecture to another site if it means that the building will be saved from complete cessation of existence! North America is fortunate in the sense that they, sometimes, might at least have the option to remove threatened structures and take them to another location; in Europe to have such an option is so much rarer.

    Even for a building that was (supposedly) designed so site-specifically, there will surely exist a setting somewhere in the same region where it may be placed just as comfortably and appropriately – amongst topography and vegetation of the sort that would have originally informed FLW’s design. But to take it all the way to ITALY, on the other hand, I am simply not sure.