Taliesin West: Frank Lloyd Wright, Phoenix
Frank Lloyd Wright was a great architect, but the tour of Talieson West was somewhat ho-hum. If you like museums, architecture, and minimalist living then this tour is for you. If you like fast boats, alligators, or culinary tours then this is not for you. The wow factor comes into play with the great view of Phoenix and the valley of the sun. I'm a native here and suggest that the tour should be taken in cooler weather months in the winter, as you will be outdoors for about half the tour. They give you a bottle of water at the start but, it's ROOM temperature (you think they could give you a cold one). For being a resident here I received 50% off the admission. For this and the tip I gave the guide it wasn't too, bad.
I've heard Taliesin West described as a good example of 'organic architecture". Until I saw it recently, it was a bit hard to comprehend all that the term meant. Now I realize this means that Taliesin blends with its environment and was designed to be timeless.
Taliesen West was constructed in a desert area surrounded by age-old saguaro cactus. Sadly, it's also skirted by huge transformers carrying electricity to all parts of Arizona. However, the tranquility of the location almost allows one to overlook the intrusion of these steel giants.
The modern design belies the fact it was constructed in 1937. The tour took us to Frank Lloyd Wright's office, the Fellowship Living Room (picture 2), plus other areas of the structure and a portion of the grounds (pictures 4 & 5).
Wright didn't like how light intruded upon the room when people entered Cabaret Theatre, his home cinema (picture 3). After ingeniously tucking dim lights along the wallboards, he invented 'aisle lights'.
The roofline of the house has a low profile, so doesn't seem to stand out in this barren landscape. It must have been so peaceful when he lived and created his architectural masterpieces here.
A very nice bookstore is on the premises, which includes Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired gifts and other works by artists who have studied at Taliesen.
Hours are 8:30am-6pm. Closed Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day or in case of heavy rain.
**A note: A tour of Taliesin West is not recommended for toddlers unless they are in strollers or their parents arms
Taliesin West was architect Frank Lloyd Wright's winter home and school in the desert from 1937 until his death in 1959 at the age of 92. Taliesin West is the main campus of the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture. It houses the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, and is open to the public for tours. His summer home, Taliesin, is in Spring Green, Wisconsin.
During his lifetime, Wright continually altered and added to the complex of buildings, all of which were constructed by students. We saw many of Wright's most famous buildings that were designed in the drafting room at Taliesin West, including the Guggenheim Museum in New York City and Grady Gammage Auditorium at Arizona State University in Tempe.
Taliesin West continues as the headquarters of The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation and as the winter home for the School of Architecture. The structure was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1982.
We took the Panorama Tour, which was an hour long tour conducted indoors and outdoors. ($18.00 pp), but there are several different tours one can take of Taliesen West.
Indoors, we were shown the Fellowship Living Room, Cabaret Theatre, Music Pavilion, Seminar Theater and Wright's private office (picture 4 of FLW). Each of these rooms had some unique characteristic which was pointed out to us.
Outdoors we experienced the desert vista (picture 3) as seen from the serene terrace (picture 2) and garden areas.
The flat sandy terrain was accented with cacti and low growing brushy trees, extending right up to the base of dramatically sculpted mountains. Taliesin is surrounded by beauty!
Other tours you might enjoy are:
90 Minute Insights
3 Hour Behind the Scenes
2 Hour Desert Walk
2 Hour Apprentice 'Shelter' Tour
2 Hour Night Lights on the Desert
2 Hour Photographing Taliesin West
2 Hour Holiday Night Lights
The tours are priced accordingly. If you are traveling here in the summer months, be sure to wear a hat and use sunblock! For more detailed information on the tours, please see the website below.
It's out in Scottsdale, and if you enjoy architecture then you should drive out there to see it. The admission fee is about $20US. There is also a shop where you can browse books, art, accessories, home furnishings, and etc. I simply bought a poster and a Lexan paper weight, but I considered the $1,500 clock...yeah right.
Anyway, I enjoy architecture in my own right even though I'm no expert. I have seen many photos of Frank Lloyd Wright's many works all of which I have been very impressed. I had seen photos of Taliesin West before as well, and unfortunately, I must admit that I wasn't too impressed. Let me rephrase...I thought there was going to be more and it would be larger. Now, to some extent there parts of the property that are off limits. However, to access those you need to take a more expensive tour, and some are inaccessible regardless. They run a school there, and they maintain privacy for their students.
Regardless, drive out there, have a look around, and be able to say you saw one of America's most influential works of architecture in US history.
A trip to Phoenix is not complete with out visiting Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin West.
This was his winter home and school for promising architects.
You'll be offfered two tours at the visitors center. My advice is to take the longer tour. You'll be glad that you did.
This compound is unique and an architectural gem.
Every room has its own special story of design and function. It was his home, his studio and his school.
Today, it offers an educational opportunity to a gifted few students from around the world.
Wright's Taliesen West is the locale he selected to establish a school of architecture, which is still thriving.
In addition to this prime example of his uncanny ability to draw the outdoor environment into a building's interior, the site has a number of wonderful sculptures by former residents/students.
I've put together a travelogue page with some shots around the site.
Frank Lloyd Wright's 'Taliesin West'
Explore what started at the winter home for Architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Take one of the tours or several that are offered, and notice the harmonious relationship between builder and environment.
frank lloyd Wright winter studio located on 114th street and Frank Lloyd wright BLvd nears scottsdale