I’m not alone in admiring the philosophy and work of Frank Lloyd Wright. His ideas about letting nature lead and creating spaces that compliment and appear natural to their surroundings really appeals to me. For that reason it was pretty exciting for me to visit Taliesin West, his winter home, studio and school in Scottsdale, AZ on a recent trip.
I learned about the architecture school and saw how things are done there. Wright died in 1959, but the school carries on pretty much as it did during his lifetime. Except it now offers accreditation. Despite Wright’s reportedly large ego he never sought patents or to formally institutionalize his ideas. There are some differences today. Students are no longer responsible for doing all of the cooking, washing, cleaning, construction and maintenance. However, they do still participate in it’s operation and they do still camp out in tents in the desert upon arriving. Also, every second Saturday night is formal instead of every Saturday night as it was when Wright lived there.
Some of the ideas Wright advanced seem common sense now, but were revolutionary in his time. He believed in the value of learning to interact with all types of people, and that in order to design spaces you needed to understand how people functioned in them. Preferably by functioning in them yourself. I was able to see firsthand how those ideas were put into practice at Taliesin West.
I think my favourite of the spaces we saw on our tour was the Sunset Terrace, which provided a gorgeous vista across the Sonoran desert landscape. It was a quiet space that I can imagine being used for many things from an early morning yoga practice to a simple cinq à sept, or even a cocktail party under a blanket of stars. I’ve posted some photos of my favourite scenes from the site. How would you use these spaces?