Posts From The Road: Taliesin West Scottsdale – Los Alamos Daily Post

Exterior and Reflection Pool: The Taliesin West facility sits in the foothills of the McDowell Mountains in Scottsdale, Ariz. The structures sit low to the ground and are constructed with local materials such as rocks, stones and sand mixed in the concrete. Photo by Gary Warren/
Rough Sawn Redwood: The beams at Taliesin West are made with rough sawn redwood and stained to match the Arizona desert landscape. This view of the beams illustrates the unique angles used throughout the facility. Photo by Gary Warren/
Formerly of Los Alamos

As mentioned many times on this Post, we are in love with traveling the back roads of America. The two lane roads lead to many unexpected sites and quaint towns that we knew very little about before traveling through the area.
In January, we traveled many such two lane backroads in southern New Mexico and southern Arizona and loved every mile of the journey. However, when we get near the cities and we have some favorite restaurants or sites we enjoy time and again, we are forced to take the Interstate and just get there!
Scottsdale, Ariz. is one of those destinations that we always enjoy. There are a couple of favorite restaurants that we always try to visit and many sites in the area that we enjoy. One of those sites in Scottsdale is Taliesin West.
Taliesin West was the winter home and studio of architect Frank Lloyd Wright. His home in Spring Green, Wisconsin was named Taliesin so when Wright began traveling to Arizona for the winters it was natural to name the space in Scottsdale Taliesin West.
Taliesin West began as a camp. It was intended to be temporary but over the years that began to change. In the mid-1930s Wright purchased 600 acres several miles north of Scottsdale in the foothills of the McDowell Mountains. He could look across the desert valley and view the city of Phoenix several miles away. Today, the Taliesin property is surrounded by Scottsdale homes and commercial facilities.
In 1937, Wright began his annual journey to Arizona along with staff and apprentices. The construction and evolution of Taliesin West would continue every winter for 20 years. The home and office for Wright, staff, and apprentices became a campus of several buildings connected with outdoor walkways, gardens, and water features.
Frank Lloyd Wright believed in organic architecture which means the structure should respect and reflect the local beauty of the building site and blend into that landscape as much as possible. Local materials should be used to compliment the landscape as well.
Taliesin West would be constructed with local rocks and stone blended with concrete and sand gathered from the property. The masonry style used at Taliesin West was known as “desert Masonry”, which was a rather crude method of masonry and performed by untrained apprentice personnel. The beams would be constructed with rough sawn redwood. The roof would be made of canvas and no windows would be installed but window openings were left open to allow for maximum light and air circulation. 
Every winter additions and changes were made and when completed the campus consisted of several buildings connected by outdoor walkways, gardens, and water features. In addition to a place to live there was an office for Wright, a large drafting room, kitchen and dining facilities, a pavilion and garden, and a theatre for music and dance performances.
As time passed and work went on all year, the canvas roof was replaced with an acrylic and fiberglass material which still allowed and windows were added so air conditioning could be added. Steel trusses and support was added to the redwood beams. 
Today Taliesin West is home to the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, home of the Wright archives, and the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture. The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation owns and operates Taliesin West and the surrounding property. The Foundation is allowed to let the place evolve and change over time.
Frank Lloyd Wright spent every winter in Scottsdale  from 1937 until his death in 1959 at the age of 91. Wright’s architecture career lasted almost seven decades and he is credited with over 1,000 works. He remained active at Taliesin West until his death.
Taliesin West is a UNESCO World Heritage Site as well as being named a National Historic Landmark. The facility is open to the public and tours are conducted daily. Visitors may choose a guided tour or audio tours. Special events are held throughout the year at Taliesin West and the facility will hosts private events as well.
The onsite gift and bookstore offer a variety of Frank Lloyd Wright merchandise. We have visited Taliesin West a few times and enjoy each visit and continue to learn more about Wright and his works.
Editor’s note: Longtime Los Alamos photographer Gary Warren and his wife Marilyn are traveling around the country, and he shares his photographs, which appear in the “Posts from the Road” series published in the Sunday edition of the Los Alamos Daily Post.
Blooms and Beams: This view of Taliesin West shows the redwood beams, which stretched from the roof top down to a walkway and garden full of beautiful red blooms. In later years, steel trusses were used in areas to add additional support to the structures. Photo by Gary Warren/
Office: The office of Frank Lloyd Wright contains many of the features seen throughout Taliesin West. The low walls, the windows, and translucent roof. Originally there were no windows and the roof was canvas. The roof is now a translucent acrylic and fiberglass material and windows were added when air conditioning was added to keep the facility open all year. Photo by Gary Warren/
Drafting Room: The drafting room is shown with rows of drafting tables. Today, the tables remain but much of the work is done on the computer. Photo by Gary Warren/
Exterior: A closer view of the exterior of Taliesin West shows how the structure complements the local landscape. The use of local rock and sand in the masonry allows the structure to blend in with the landscape. The shape and lines of the facility follow the lines of the landscape of Maricopa Hill on the property just beyond the campus. Photo by Gary Warren/

Copyright © 2012-2023 The Los Alamos Daily Post is the Official Newspaper of Record in Los Alamos County. This Site and all information contained here including, but not limited to news stories, photographs, videos, charts, graphs and graphics is the property of the Los Alamos Daily Post, unless otherwise noted. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided that the Los Alamos Daily Post and the author/photographer are properly cited. Opinions expressed by readers, columnists and other contributors do not necessarily reflect the views of the Los Alamos Daily Post. The Los Alamos Daily Post newspaper was founded by Carol A. Clark on Feb. 7, 2012.


(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)