In 1938, renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright purchased property in the foothills of the McDowell Mountains near Scottsdale, Arizona. Over the years, the winter home for the architect became a learning center for apprentice architects wishing to study under the master. Constructed almost entirely by students under the master’s direction, the home and school are now open to the public with a wide variety of tours offered daily.
Wright’s original home in Wisconsin was named “Taliesin”, a Welsh name meaning “Shining Brow.” Pronunciation guides disagree but those who took the tour learned, at least from our tour guide, that the correct pronunciation is “tal-ee-ess-in.” When Wright decided to build the school in Arizona, it only made sense to name his new home Taliesin West. The Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture and the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation find their main facilities here.
Even the furniture reflects the design of the master and the skills of the students who built them. The tour we selected took us through most of the building interiors as well as the grounds. As you can see from the above photo, Wright brought the desert outdoors inside through the use of large expanses of glass and even glassless windows. Our tour featured an expert guide who helped us non-architects in learning about Wright’s reasonsing and thought processes as the winter home grew and expanded into the artist’s community he envisioned.
Mr. Wright enjoyed oriental art and architecture. Taliesin West includes many examples of oriental art as well as giving the entire project a noticeable oriental bearing. The open nature of the living quarters with garden areas and sliding panels are very reminiscent of my perception of East Asian homes. Others with a background in architecture might completely disagree with my opinion. After all, I have zero background in architecture and design. Whatever it’s heritage, Taliesin West presents itself on the side of the mountain as if it has always been there. It is one with the nature of the landscape surrounding the estate.
According to their website here, the property is closed only on Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. We took the Insights Tour, an hour and a half of immersion in the property including the Wright’s private quarters and living room. During the summer, they offer a one-hour photographer’s tour that allows photographers to capture the soft light of sunset on the grounds and area around McDowell Mountain foothills. I will have to put this tour on my bucket list as we are seldom in the area between June and September when this tour is offered. I submit for your entertainment, a small gallery of images that I captured during the Insights Tour at Taliesin West. Click on an image to enlarge it and to scroll through the gallery.