Hollyhock House. All photos by Elizabeth Daniels
Sitting atop a hill in Barnsdall Park, the 1920s-era Hollyhock House, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for oil heiress Aline Barnsdall, is a must-see Los Angeles monument. But because it predates many building requirements for people with disabilities, some parts of the historic home aren’t accessible to everyone.
That could change, says Urbanize LA, thanks to a plan to create a virtual reality tour that would be available to visitors on-site as well as online. The tour would “provide virtual access to previously inaccessible areas of the location to visitors with disabilities,” says a city memo detailing the project.
The Mayan Revival-style Hollyhock House was built decades before creation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which mandates certain building specifications to ensure that everyone can get in and out of them. But the Hollyhock House can’t just be upgraded to allow for greater access, since its national historic landmark status won’t allow for any physical modifications.
A compromise is this digital tour, which will allow people to virtually move through some of the spaces that are otherwise out of reach, increasing access to the house by a whopping 210 percent, says the memo.
That could have some huge benefits for the house. The city’s Department of Cultural Affairs says that greater accessibility would probably mean more visitors and more ticket sales for the site. The Hollyhock House is being considered for designation as an UNESCO World Heritage site, and the DCA says the site’s increased accessibility would likely boost its chances of achieving the honor.
The proposed project would be a pilot, funded by $133,000 from the City's Innovation Fund. It’s possible that this tour could lead to other similar virtual tours for other city facilities.