Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West in Phoenix, an absolute masterpiece among the master’s masterpieces, has finally gotten approval for a preservation plan from Phoenix and the Wright foundation. The link is to the East Valley Tribune.
My in-laws live in Scottsdale – Hi Cy and Joan! – and they took my wife and I out there for a tour of the place about five years ago, which was precisely the time I started to get thoroughly obsessed with modern architecture in general on a wide scale. It was a real eye-opener, touring those wonderful buildings, feeling the harmony with nature that informs their very existence. I could feel the presence of the master on the grounds and I sorely wished to be young again and be able to go to architecture school there.
The air is charmed at Taliesin West, and the buildings themselves rise out of the desert sand and blend with the surrounding flora and fauna in ways that are very different from Wright’s other masterworks. It was, after all, the place where he would spend his winters, and would educate many of his apprentices. I will admit to you that, more than once on that tour, I thought about sneaking off and hiding in a closet until closing time so I could live there during off hours. This, though, was bound to have been a lonely enterprise, so I abandoned it. Plus I love my wife and didn’t really want to put that kind of strain on our marriage…
Just this past March, visiting my in-laws – Hi again Cy and Joan – I spoke with my father-in-law about the disrepair that Taliesin West was in and the need for it to be preserved. He said he didn’t know what was going to happen to it, and I lamented that that incredible campus might be razed, or crumble into dust. Obvioulsy Wright designed some complex buildings, with infrastructure that is nearly impossible to keep going in its original state. The city of Phoenix, though, with its taste for good architecture, knows what it has and has done the right thing by it.
Taliesin West now has the chance to survive into the future, and to have its lessons, it incredible lines and symmetry, preserved for generations to come. In an age and society that is increasingly disposable, it’s good to see that this is happening, and that rare genius is being preserved.