Taliesin West: Desert Oasis | RTX Traveler Magazine

Taliesin West brings Frank Lloyd Wright’s creativity and talent to life

Taliesin West Web_extWhether it’s for his innovation in design, his emphasis on connecting his buildings with nature and the earth, or his quirky personality, Frank Lloyd Wright is one of the most famous American architects who ever lived. With 53 buildings currently open to the public, Wright’s works are explored and enjoyed by architects, enthusiasts and anyone who can appreciate the kind of beauty and harmony his designs showcase. Taliesin West in Scottsdale is one of the most active in keeping Wright’s legacy alive.

Built between 1937 and 1959, Taliesin West was Wright’s winter home and studio, and is still home to The Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture students six months of the year. With approximately 35 students enrolled in the school and several artists and architects who call the property home, there is constant life and creation occurring at Taliesin West, just as one could imagine Wright may have wanted.

When Wright and his third wife, Oglivanna, acquired the land in the Sonoran Desert, what some may have considered unfavorable building conditions were perfect to cultivate Wright’s connection between man, nature, building and soil. In what Wright called “rubble-filled desert masonry,” rocks and sand brought from the desert along with cheap wholesale redwood were used to construct the house. The result was an intriguing and fascinating property that incorporates sculpture, art and nature into space for living, working and entertaining.

“Study nature. Love nature. Stay close to nature. It will never fail you.”– Frank Lloyd Wright

There are several tour options available to the public, each one giving a different glimpse of life at Taliesin West and insight into Wright’s inspiration. For a unique visual tour and in depth perspective, the 2-hour Night Lights tour is available every Friday from February through May and September through October.

During the first part of the tour, the group takes in the exterior of the buildings as the guide touches on the history of the property and some information about how it is used today. As the sun sets over the desert, the evening light bathes the building and its grounds in warm hues, accentuating and complementing the shapes, textures and colors of the building and its surroundings.

P1030028 WebOnce the sun dips behind the horizon, the group is led in to the living room where Wright’s own furniture designs are utilized as the tour guide invites someone from the group to play one of Wright’s beloved pianos. While the light from the setting sun filters through the windows and skylights, it becomes evident that every design detail was well thought out and calculated to make this space nurturing to those who lived within it. The group is then led back outside to tour the sleeping quarters and to view the house softly lit from the inside with the clear desert sky above, creating a breathtaking picture of the building in a new light.

The tour’s two final stops are marvelous indoor spaces, the Music Pavilion and the Cabaret Theater. Each space has its own magical feel, as the dramatic high ceiling and red interior on the stage of the Music Pavilion are ideal for a performance in front of a large audience, while the strategically designed Cabaret Theater is perfect for intimate entertaining. This stone-walled underground room was designed for optimal sound quality, with no right angles and no parallel lines, so anyone performing on the small stage or playing the grand piano tucked away in its stone nook can be heard from any seat in the room.

While the evening tour is extensive and unique, any of the other tours are well worth a visit. The Insights Tour provides an overview of the house and makes visitors feel like guests of Wright himself. The Desert Shelter Tour is led by first-year architecture students who show an entirely different side of the property with tours of the desert dwellings apprentices and students have designed and lived in since the home was being built. Any of the tours offered at Taliesin West are sure to be unique and memorable experiences.

Facts

  • Ancient petroglyphs found on the property inspired the home’s “whirling arrow” logo. These petroglyphs are on display throughout the property.
  • For years, the entire property was open to the elements with only canvas panels as roof tiles. Glass was installed in the windows in 1947 when Wright and his third wife began spending more time here.
  • When Wright died he was buried between his mother and his lover in Wisconsin. As her dying wish, Oglivanna enlisted his apprentices to steal his body, cremate him and combine his ashes with hers to lay to final rest at Taliesin West. The ashes of both Wright and Oglivanna are reportedly somewhere on the property, though the exact location remains a secret.
Contact
12621 N Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd.
Scottsdale, AZ 85259
www.franklloydwright.org
Tips
Check the schedule as the tours and times vary throughout the year. 
Book in advance, regardless of which tour you choose.
Wear comfortable shoes, and arrive 15 minutes early.
Bring a small flashlight if you’re taking the evening tour, as parking lot lighting is very minimal in an effort to reduce light pollution.

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