Taliesin West - Scottsdale, Arizona
Taliesin West was the Winter home, school, and studio of architect Frank Lloyd Wright.
Taliesin is a Welsh term meaning "shining brow". Taliesin West was literally built from the desert floor on the brow of a hill in the Sonoran Desert. Wright and his apprentices used rocks and sand from the site as building materials. This was for two reasons. One, Mr. Wright was known for his love of creating spaces with nature in mind. He wanted his buildings to be in harmony with the landscape instead of competing with it. When possible he used materials native to the location where it was built.
The second reason was money. He purchased this land in 1937 during the Great Depression. Funds were severly limited, and using stone and sand from his property cost him nothing. Lumber and canvas were his main expenses. (Glass was not used until years later.)
I've waited many years to be able to see Taliesin West in person, and I was finally able to in May 2010.
From Downtown Scottsdale, head north on the AZ-101 Loop.
Take Exit 40 (Cactus Road).
Follow E Cactus Road till end.
The entrance to Taliesin West is at the intersection of Cactus Road and N Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard.
12621 Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard
Scottsdale, Arizona 85261-4430
Follow the private drive up to the parking area.
My husband, 8 year old daughter, and I took the 90 minute Insights Tour. This happens to be the most popular tour that they offer, but honestly we had gotten their late and this was the only tour left for the day. We were leaving Arizona the next morning so we took what we could get.
I'm SO glad we ended up on the Insights Tour! It was a little more expensive than the Panorama Tour but I think it was worth it. The tour we were on was 30 minutes longer and included living quarters and the Garden Room, as well as the 3 theaters, Wright's office, and exterior spaces shown in the Panorama tour. I thought the 90 minutes would be a bit long for my 8 year old to handle, but there is so much to see, and you're moving from one space to the next that the time seemed to fly by. My daughter was interested and paid attention to the tour guide the entire time.
Since much of the tour (whichever tour you are on) is outdoors in the desert sun umbrellas are supplied for you as you begin the tour to carry for shade. I didn't take one and later wished I had.
There are actually quite a number of different tours available of Taliesin West, both public and private. Make sure you check their schedule online if you are planning to go because they vary by day and based on the time of year.
Tickets for tours can be purchased at the Taliesin West Bookstore.
Panorama Tour: 1 hour, $24
Insights Tour: 90 minutes, $32
Desert Walk: 90 minutes, $32
Desert Shelter Tour: 2 hours, $40
Night Lights Tour: 2 hours, $35
Behind the Scenes Tour: 3 hours, $60
Group Tours and Private Personal Tours are also available.
There are discounts for children under 12, seniors, military, students, and FLLW Association members.
Today at Taliesin West
Even today the site still serves it's original function as a living, working, educational facility.
The Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture
The main campus is at Taliesin West (with a second, summer campus at Taliesin in Wisconsin). The school offers two fully accredited degrees: Master of Architecture, and Bachelor of Architectural Studies. First year students are required to live in self designed “desert shelters” while at Taliesin West, just as they did in the 1930s.
Education Outreach Program
Educational Outreach Programs for youth from grades K-12, established in the late 1980s, provide opportunities for kids to learn
about Wright's legacy as well as the many concepts relevant to the
future of architecture and natural environment. One such program is their Architecture Camp offered at both Taliesin West and Taliesin in Wisconsin.
The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation
The international headquarters is housed at Taliesin West. The organization, founded by Wright, owns and manages the Frank Lloyd Wright Archives. These Archives are the most complete collection of work by an individual artist housed under one roof anywhere in the world. His architectural drawing collection, photographs, manuscripts, letters, and interviews can be found there. Wright's personal art collection is also housed there.
Average Scottsdale Temps
My Interest in Frank Lloyd Wright
From the time that I was 6 years old I had always wanted to be an architect. (That, or a backup dancer for Janet Jackson, but I digress.) Most kids change their minds 100 times before getting to college, but not me. I ended up with a B.Arch., a 5-year professional degree in Architecture, from Roger Williams University.
After that, life took other turns and I haven't become a registered Architect, but I do still cherish my education and all of the professors who I had along the way. One of those was Grattan Gill. He was my first drafting teacher at RWU, my studio professor for a semester, and I took his course on Frank Lloyd Wright. He was more than qualified to teach such a class, as he had studied under Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin and Taliesin West from 1952-1957. He was part of the Taliesin Fellowship.
Grattan had so many wonderful stories and memories from his time with Mr. Wright that the class really came alive. We weren't just reading about him, we were listening to first hand accounts of what he was like, of what it was like to be learning from him.
On My Bookshelf
- The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation
The official website of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation.
- Frank Lloyd Wright
A Squidoo lens with info and gifts for FLW fans.
- An Arizona Road Trip
My family's fun journey through Arizona May 24th - June 1st 2010. I hope it inspires you to plan an Arizona road trip of your own.