One of our stops last week in Arizona was at Frank Lloyd Wright’s last residence in Taliesin West. The house was built in 1937 with a small-sized architectural school that still exists today. Much like when Wright was still alive, the students spend six months of fall/winter in Arizona when temperatures are more comfortable. To avoid the summer dessert heat, the students then go to the original Taliesin in Wisconsin for another six months. By following this cycle, the students are also able to avoid the frigid winters of the mid-west.
Unlike Wright’s house in Oak Park, this property bathes in light. Gone are the horizontal lines that marks the architect’s original horizontal Prairie style. Instead the shapes that dominate most of the structures are mostly triangular and geometrical. The property is also more organic in style with its use of natural elements like rocks found in the Arizona dessert.
The thing that remained consistent from his Oak Park house is the one that stayed with him throughout his life — his love for Native American and Asian art. His ability to be a visionary and ahead of his time can be seen in the property’s movie theater where he used dimmed lights on the side floor to allow better viewer visibility on the passageway, something we often see in movie theaters this day. For a very long time, movie theaters had ushers who helped movie goers find their way in a dark room, which was often distracting to others. It only took the movie theater industry 50-something years to catch up and use this little nifty feature.
The girls came with us during this two-hour guided tour. I was quite impressed with how they behaved and paid attention during the visit. I hope that the Taliesin West visit was a memorable one for them, something that they’ll remember as they get older.