Frank Lloyd Wright started building Taliesin West in 1937, at the age of 70, as winter residence for himself and his third wife. Olga Ivanovna.
The property occupies some 240 hectares of the Sonora desert and at the time of purchase it was one hour away from Phoenix, the nearest town. Frank Lloyd Wright was looking for a completely isolated place, and in the first few years here there was not even electricity.
The School of Architecture's winter residence was built with the encouragement of Olga Ivanovna and the work of the students. Wright designed all the buildings, the decoration and the furnishings. The walls were hand-built using rocks from the desert embedded in cement and the spaces were covered with transparent canvasses fixed to the coloured wooden beams. Initially, Wright refused to close off the roofs and the spaces, until the desert winter and pressure from his wife made him change his mind.
The architect's office, his living space, the meeting room, the concert hall and the theatre are separated by stairs, terraces and ponds, bringing about a harmonious complex of brutal beauty.
Photos taken by Javier Arpa, available under request.
Frank Lloyd Wright
12621 North Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd
Scottsdale, Arizona 1937
Close-up of Frank Lloyd Wright's office. The pathway between the buildings is accompanied by low supporting walls between the platforms at different heights
Frank Lloyd Wright's office. Entrance door
Office interior. Going through the entrance door, one accesses a very low reception space leading on to a room with a high ceiling. This relation between compressed access spaces leading to more generous rooms is a constant in the work of the architect
Ceiling and enclosures of the office. Taliesin West was conceived as a desert camp and its buildings as tents. Hence, at first, they had canvasses as the only covering system
Frank Lloyd Wright's office. Exterior. The construction method for all the buildings is based on very thick supporting walls, with a masonry of cement embedded desert boulders. These walls support parallel redwood trusses
Exteriors of the house of Frank Lloyd Wright and Olga Ivanovna. The house served as a place for meeting up with the students who would move freely around all the rooms. Within this house were held the critique sessions led by Olga Ivanovna
Exterior spaces for moving between buildings. Supporting walls, desert vegetation and works carried out in the workshops by the Taliesin students
Cabaret interior. This is a hexagonal section room, shaped thus to enhance the acoustics. Even the chairs furnishing the room make use of this design