Phoenix, Arizona– “Form follows function”, a phrase I first learned on my initial visit to Frank Lloyd Wright’s home studio in Oak Park, a suburb of Chicago. From that point on, I felt a connection with Wright’s forward thinking of architecture. Over the past two decades, I had visited many of his designed buildings and homes throughout this country. To this day, Frank Lloyd Wright is known as one of America’s best architects, as he used an organic style and worked with the nature that surrounded him.
Taliesen West, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, exemplifies his vision of designing a structure that works with the surrounding nature. This Arizona compound was a significant place for Wright, as it was both his desert laboratory and winter home. What I admired about Taliesin West, was how seamlessly the structures blended into the surrounding desert landscape.
UNESCO World Heritage Site Plaque – Front Gate Fountain
Visiting Taliesin West was a fantastic field trip for this nerd who loves architecture and design. I reserved online, a self-guided tour which was very well done. With the use of headphones and an iPad, the intuitive program guided you from room to room, through the buildings and outside structures. It was done in an informative way that described each room, his thoughts of the design as well as the function of the space.
Frank Lloyd Wright’s office with a compression space door and entry, that opened up to a spacious and well lit room.
Frank Lloyd Wright was a creative genius and well ahead of his time. If you look through his Taliesin West design, with angled lines and open spaces one would think this was a Mid-Modern design of the 1950s and 60s. This space was designed in the late 1930s and remained his lab and winter home until his death in 1959.
Exterior spaces that blended into the desert landscape.
Desert Masonry- The building’s walls were made from large local desert rocks, that were stacked within wood forms, and then filled with concrete.
There were simple characteristic silhouettes to go by, tremendous drifts and heaps of sunburned desert rocks were nearby to be used.– Frank Lloyd Wright
The rooms within Taliesin West were open spaces and well lit with flooding natural light. The colors of the rooms blended in with the dessert landscape, including the origami chairs in burnt orange.
Frank Lloyd Wright was also an admirer of Japanese art and design. He brought in many touches of Asian influences into Taliesin West.
Inside Taliesin West, Frank Lloyd Wright built two theatres: The Music Pavilion (above) and the Cabaret Theatre (below.), which was my favorite room. I appreciated everything about this building from the desert masonry, the buddha that greets you upon entering and the well appointed seating of the theatre.
I would strongly recommend a visit to Taliesin West, especially for those who are interested in design and the life of Frank Lloyd Wright. For those who are not familiar with him, a visit to this desert complex is a great way on getting to know him.
Arizona needs its own architecture. Arizona’s long, low, sweeping lines, uptilting planes. Surface patterned after such abstraction in line and color as find ‘realism’ in the patterns of the rattlesnake, the Gila monster, and the saguaro, cholla or staghorn; or is it the other way around—are inspiration enough.– Frank Lloyd Wright
For tour information and reservations, please visit TALIESIN WEST
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📸 All photos are taken by me and are my intellectual property – Trixie Navarre