Hello again readers,
It has been a while since I went on a trip to visit a famous architectural landmark, so I packed my bags and set out for AZ to check out Wright’s winter home Taliesin West, located in Scottsdale, Arizona. Wright’s first trip to AZ was in 1927 when he was asked to consult on designs for the Arizona Biltmore Hotel. Following that initial visit, Wright and a team of apprentices returned to the AZ desert every year setting up desert camps in the winter months to escape the harsh winters in his home state of Wisconsin. The Taliesin West complex that exists today broke ground in 1937 and evolved over Wright’s lifetime undergoing renovations and additions until Wright’s death. Wright created Taliesin West as a community to host his Fellowship program, a quasi school for budding architects eager to learn from the master’s tutelage. The Fellowship was founded in the 30s during the Great Depression when Wright and nearly all architects were getting no commissions. His Fellowship program was a means of supporting his practice in the lean years of the Depression. Wright’s apprenticeship program started out of his home in Wisconsin and the program and the apprentices relocated to AZ for the winter months.
Even though Wright is long dead, The Fellowship program still exists today in the form of the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture operated out of the Taliesin West Complex. The school offers an NAAB accredited Masters of Architecture degree to those who complete the program at Taliesin West and Taliesin. It is a small school, only about 30-40 students in total and it admits only about 8-10 students each year. Students live on the property in tents constructed by past Fellows and in living quarters created by Wright. However, the school’s existence is in jeopardy as it is in danger of loosing its accreditation due to the way the school is funded.
For me it was exciting walking through and experiencing first hand the inside of a Wright design. Wright properties are very controlled; every detail and view was crafted by the architect to create a seamless connection with the surroundings. It wasn’t always comfortable, but it was beautiful. I was struck by how low the ceilings were. Wright was quite short despite his large ego, and he often designed spaces around his own height rather then accommodate the needs of taller people. Wright rooms are therefore best experienced sitting down taking in the space from a seated position.
Below is a photo gallery of pictures that I took on the tour. An overview map of the Complex is also included.