I spent the morning Friday traversing a series of scenic roads from Flagstaff, south through Sedona and Payson to Scottsdale, a northeastern suburb of Phoenix. There I visited Taliesin West, the winter home and workplace of architect Frank Lloyd Wright.
Wright bought approximately 800 acres of land here (before it became the sprawling suburb it is today) in 1937 for $3.50/acre, which was considered a high price back in those days, and Taliesin West was built soon after that. Two years ago I visited Taliesin (pronounced tally-ESS-en), his summer home in southwest Wisconsin.
For having been designed and built in the late 30’s it is typical Wright, contemporary even by today’s standards, with a low profile and materials to blend in with it’s surroundings, incorporating natural light throughout and with every detail having a purpose. He lived and worked here, and had his many apprentices living on site, literally in tents or other basic structures. The site is still used today by students who live and work here year-round. The only place we visited on our tour where photographs were not allowed was the huge design studio where, although students now use computers, plotters and 3-D printers, they are working on drafting tables and other furniture used by Wright and his minions back in the day. It is a magnificent facility.
I also need to mention that a woman from Chattanooga, Tennessee saved the blog when she discovered my digital camera laying next to the guest registration book at the gift shop and turned it in at the tour desk. I had set it down to write my information in the goofy book and forgot all about it (evidently I need to get a strap and tie it to my body, which may also help keep Mr. Butterfingers JohnBoy from dropping it into a canyon somewhere…).
This metal dragon sculpture is hooked up to a propane tank and literally becomes a fire-breathing dragon at night.
Behind the red doors in the photo below is a huge dining room where Wright and his 3rd wife (Mr. Wright had a rather, shall we say, colorful life) would entertain guests. It was designed on a gently declining level, similar to but not as drastic as stadium seating in modern day theatres, and, in fact, doubled as a movie theatre for guests when not being used for formal dinners.
Even the gate at the entry to the property was designed by Wright.
The only feature which I have seen at many Wright-designed (for clients) properties which I did not see here was the use of stained glass windows. I didn’t think to ask our guide why that was, but it is a beautiful and remarkable property regardless.
Mr. Wright lived and worked here (winters) from when he had it built in the late 1930’s until his death in 1959 at the age of 91. It is still used today by students of his work.
After touring the property (the scheduled 1 1/2 hour tour took almost 2 1/2 hours!) I tried, without success, to locate a good friend from when I used to live in Pennsylvania (a radiologist client of the accounting firm I worked for who raced cars as a hobby. I was his “pit crew” for about a year and traveled with him to races throughout the eastern US) who now lives in Scottsdale. I had no way to contact him before I got here and there was apparently no one home when I arrived at the entrance to the gated community (I left a message via the intercom).
After waiting a short time to see if perhaps someone would show up I headed east on another series of scenic roads to the little town of Lakeside in the eastern part of Arizona where I will spend the next 3 nights before moving on to northern New Mexico.