Field Report: Taliesin West
I recently had a great chance to get my architectural fix when I was able to tour Frank LLoyd Wright's design school and studio, Taliesin West. Located in Scottsdale, Arizona, Taliesin was dubbed "West" as it was his winter home, as opposed to his studio and home in Wisconsin - which was dubbed "East" after the birth of this Arizona property in 1937. Today the facility houses the Frank Lloyd Wright School Of Design as well as the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation.
The main design studio at Taliesin West
Interior spaces were built behind thick cement and rock walls to insulate against the heat
Sometimes it is hard to remember that such a premier talent in design, and someone who had such a marked influence in the modernism movement, was born over a century ago in 1867. He created Taliesin West as an experimental space to house his apprentices in 1937 as it was believed that the dry desert air would benefit his health.
There was nothing else around when Taliesin West was built and that frontier feeling still exists today
Wright pioneered the idea of using local materials so that his spaces would fit into the environment around them, and Taliesin West is no different. It used stone from the rocky hills it sits on for the walls and cement mixes. Keeping in mind there was no electricity out in this area and that no heavy machinery was used in its construction only further amazes. Wright would have his students, who lived on site, gather their own materials and build their own structures with their own hands. Many of these structures were never intended to be permanent - something highlighted by the fact that none of the structures on the campus have foundations - the rock walls themselves served as strength and structural support. Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1982 means that maintenance and conservation efforts will remain employed to keep the structure for generations of designers in the future to see.
Architects still study and work at the facility today
Frank Lloyd Wright lived and worked here until his death in 1959. He was well known for always being dressed to the nines, despite the desert heat. Many of his most famous works were designed in the studio at Taliesin West, including the Solomon Guggenheim Museum in New York City.
I always enjoy seeing the works of master artists and designers - whether they be architectural, industrial, visual, etc. They inspire us to think new thoughts and show us that reality today does not have to be reality tomorrow.