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Taliesin West is open to the public and offers a broad range of tours. Come experience the place that Wright called “the top of the world.”
The structure's walls are made of local desert rocks, stacked within wood forms, filled with concrete. Wright always favored using the materials readily available rather than those that must be transported to the site. In Wright’s own words: “There were simple characteristic silhouettes to go by, tremendous drifts and heaps of sunburned desert rocks were nearby to be used. We got it all together with the landscape…” The flat surfaces of the rocks were placed outward facing and large boulders filled the interior space so concrete could be conserved.
Natural light also played a major part in the design. In the drafting room, Wright used translucent canvas to act as a roof (later replaced by plastic because of the intense wear from the Arizona sun). In the south-facing dining room, Wright did not take the masonry walls from floor to ceiling, and designed the roof to hang past the walls preventing unwanted sun rays from penetrating but allowing for horizontal light to pass through the room. Wright believed natural light aided the work environment he had his apprentices in, keeping the inside of his building in touch with the natural surroundings.
Every part of Taliesin West bears Frank Lloyd Wright’s personal touch. Upon every return after a summer in Wisconsin Wright would grab a hammer and immediately make his way through the complex. He would walk through each room making changes or shouting orders to apprentices closely following with wheelbarrows and tools. He constantly changed and improved on his design fixing arising problems and addressing new situations. Throughout the years he added an addition to the dining room, the cabaret theatre, music pavilion and numerous other rooms. All of the furniture and decorations were designed by Wright and the majority built by apprentices. A brilliant aspect of Wright's design is the cabaret theatre. Built with six sides, out of the standard rock-concrete mixture, in an irregularly hexagonal shape, the theatre provides its occupants with what someone has called "95% acoustic perfection". Someone sitting in the back row can hear the lightest whisper from a speaker on stage.
The view at Taliesin West was critical to its success. In the 1940s Wright waged a battle against overhead power lines on aesthetic grounds. In the late 1940s when power lines appeared within the view of Taliesin West, Wright wrote President Harry S. Truman, demanding they be buried. It was a losing battle. So after briefly considering rebuilding in Tucson, he "turned his back on the valley," moving the entrance to the rear of the main building.
Taliesin West continues as the headquarters of The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation and as the winter home for the School of Architecture. As in Wright's time, students and faculty spend the summers in Spring Green, Wisconsin. The structure was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1982.
Sources1. "Welcome to Taliesin West: Plan a Visit," Official Website, accessed September 23, 2016. http://franklloydwright.org/taliesin-west/plan-a-visit.html 2. "Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation," Official Website, Online shopping, accessed September 23, 2016. http://www.franklloydwright.com/index.php/ 3. "Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture: Campuses," Official Website, September 23, 2016. http://taliesin.edu/campuses/ 4. "Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation," Official Website for both Taliesin and Taliesin West, accessed September 23, 2016. http://www.franklloydwright.org/home/index.html 5. "Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture," Official Website, accessed September 23, 2016. http://taliesin.edu 6. Jackie Craven, "Taliesen West, the Desert Retreat of Frank Lloyd Wright, About.com website, updated February 6, 2016, accessed September 23, 2016. http://architecture.about.com/od/greatbuildings/a/taliesinwest.htm 7. "Taliesin Overlook," McDowell Sonoran Conservancy website, 4-mile hike that looks down on Taliesin West, accessed September 23, 2016. http://www.mcdowellsonoran.org/trailhead/displayHike/8#sthash.tqqXnlPH.dpbs 8. "Taliesin West," Frank Lloyd Wright Sites website, contains list of additional resources and links, accessed September 23, 2016. http://franklloydwrightsites.com/arizona/taliesin/taliesinwest.html 9. "Taliesin West," Great Buildings website, contains several photos, accessed September 23, 2016. http://greatbuildings.com/buildings/taliesin_west.html 10. "Taliesin West Lecture Series," Facebook site, accessed September 23, 2016. https://www.facebook.com/Taliesin-West-Lecture-Series-182147215158639/ 11. "Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation," Facebook site, accessed September 23, 2016. https://www.facebook.com/fllwfoundation/?rf=109107602440456 12. "Taliesin West," Wikipedia site, contains several contemporary photos, accessed September 23, 2016. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taliesin_West 13. Aaron Betsky, "A Pair of Taliesin West Desert Shelters Goes Meta," ARCHITECT MAGAZINE.com, May 16, 2015, accessed September 23, 2016. http://www.architectmagazine.com/design/culture/a-pair-of-taliesin-west-desert-shelters-goes-meta_o 14. "Taliesin West," National Park Service historic property information, 25 pages, accessed September 24, 2016. http://npgallery.nps.gov/pdfhost/docs/NHLS/Text/74000457.pdf 15. Gretchen McKay, Taliesin West shows how architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, built in harmony with nature, Pittsburg Post-Gazette, March 27, 2010, accessed September 24, 2016. http://www.post-gazette.com/life/travel/2010/03/27/Taliesin-West-shows-how-architect-Frank-Lloyd-Wright-built-in-harmony-with-nature/stories/201003270247 16. "Taliesin West," YouTube video, tour of Taliesen West set to classical music, March 26, 2015, 6:18 minutes, accessed September 23, 2016. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PeQIRehzUV4 17. Jim Davis, "Taliesin West, Frank Lloyd Wright's Arizona house and studio," Video, 10:41 minutes, 1950, accessed September 23, 2016. https://archive.org/details/0987_Taliesin-West_01_18_24_00
Scottsdale, AZ 85258
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