Frank Lloyd Wright

Robert Green AIA

TALIESIN WEST

 (pronounced Tal-e-essin)

One year in the 1920's Frank Lloyd Wright had a bout with pneumonia, and on the advice of his doctor he went to Arizona. Earlier, in 1927, he had visited the area outside Phoenix when he had done some work for Alexander Chandler, designs for the Arizona desert which were not built because of the stock market crash in 1929. Again he met Chandler, and this time was commissioned to design another project for him, which, too, was destined not to be built.

But Frank Lloyd Wright had by then decided to spend his winters in Arizona, and he purchased several hundred acres in the desert north of Phoenix on the Maricopa Mesa at the foot of the McDowell Mountains. Over the next several years Frank Lloyd Wright and his apprentices worked prodigiously to construct a permanent `tent' camp, and Mr. Wright called it Taliesin West.

Taliesin West was constructed with large battered masonry walls in which native stones (collected from the site) had been placed in wooded forms and concrete poured around them. Off this massive base, wooden spines (trusses) rose up at angles repeating the angles of the mountains beyond. Between these spines nestled canvas panels, panels which allowed a wonderful soft light into the spaces below--a roof of diffused light--muting the brightness of the desert sun.

Taliesin West Photo 1

As Robert McCarter, in his book on Frank Lloyd Wright says, "Approaching the building through the desert, we first see it silhouetted against the low mountains immediately behind, its materials and colors drawn from the desert site itself, and its broken, serrated profile intended to merge with the desert. Frank Lloyd Wright said, `The straight line and the flat plane, sun-lit, must come here--of all places--but they should become the dotted line, the broad, low, extended plane textured because in all this astounding desert there is not one hard undotted line to be seen.'"

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