Yesterday, the Florida Southern College campus was added to the World Monuments Fund 100 Most Endangered Sites list. Every two years, the Fund “calls attention to threatened cultural heritage around the world.”
In May, 200 experts gathered at the World Monuments Watch headquarters to sift through nominations for the list. The organization listed “deteriation of arcitectual elements” and “limited resources” as the primary threats to the FSC campus.
The WMW doesn’t designate the sites as landmarks, but exists to call attention to those sites in greatest need. The organization helps the sites obtain international attention and funding. The Fund alone has given over $33 million to 185 designated sites.
In addition to the FSC campus, the American sites designated were Historic Neighborhood of New Orleans, LA; Historic Route 66; Main Street Modern Buildings; New York State Pavillion of Queens, NY; Salk Institute, San Diego, CA; and the Tutuveni Petrogylph Site on Hopi Tribal Land, AZ.
For more information: PDF of the full list and a Flash Map of the sites with a Site Story for each.
After the jump is the WMW’s FSC Campus site story.
Located in a hillside citrus grove overlooking a lake, the Florida Southern campus is the largest collection of integrally designed Frank Lloyd Wright buildings in the world. The masterplan for the institution, described by Wright as “the first uniquely American campus,” was created in 1938. Evoking his ideas of organic architecture, Wright proposed that the buildings be constructed using so-called textile-block technology, in which local coquina stone and sand were combined with pigmented cement to create cast units.
For more than 20 years, the College struggled financially to execute the master plan, often using students to construct the buildings. The first and most significant of the buildings, the Annie Merner Pfeiffer Chapel, was erected between 1939 and 1941. The light-filled chapel is dominated by a 12-meter glass-and-steel steeple painted in Wright’s signature Cherokee red.
Over the next two decades, an additional nine buildings, a water dome, and nearly two kilometers of esplanades were constructed. Although the master plan was never fully executed, the Florida Southern campus remains one of Wright’s most important works, spanning his early and late career. It is a designated local historic district in Lakeland and is on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. A U.S. National Historic Landmark nomination is currently being written by the college administration.
The textile blocks that make up the buildings of the Florida Southern campus are deteriorating and failing, due in part to water ingress, which has corroded the iron reinforcing bars that hold them together. The deterioration of the textile blocks has been exacerbated by years of deferred maintenance and inappropriate repairs. In addition to the technical challenges of conserving the textile blocks, the other principal threat endangering the campus is the difficulty in sympathetically altering and adapting the Wright-designed buildings for modern use.
Text 2008 by the World Monument Fund