It's hard to say which is more startling. That a developer in Phoenix could threaten — by Thursday, no less — to knock down a 1952 house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Or that the house has until now slipped under the radar, escaping the attention of most architectural historians, even though it is one of Wright's great works, a spiral home for his son David.
The prospect of its demolition has suddenly galvanized preservationists, as these crises often belatedly do. They are pursuing a two-pronged attack, trying to have the building designated a landmark, although in Arizona, where private property rights are strong, landmark status is really just a stay of execution, limited to three years. After that the owner is free to tear down the place. So the other prong of attack is to find some preservation-minded angel with deep pockets who will buy it from the developer. Preferably today.