Update: It has been reported that the School of Architecture at Taliesin may find a new home at Cosanti and Arcosanti. On the face of this, the nascent plan sounds like an ideal solution that would lend new life to both endeavors. One obstacle is Arcosanti’s remote location, 45 miles from Prescott, Arizona, and nearly 70 miles from the school’s original home at Taliesin West in Scottsdale, Arizona. But that remote location is visually inspiring and proximate to many of the state’s most beautiful natural areas, certainly a boon to the creative artist. Below is our previous reporting on the school’s schism with the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation in February of 2020.
A Farewell to the School of Architecture at Taliesin
It’s bittersweet that last fall’s AIA Custom Residential Architects Network Symposium was held in Phoenix, Arizona, with a lovely reception at Taliesin West. Little did the dedicated group of residential architects know that the visit and tour would mark one of the last opportunities to see Frank Lloyd Wright’s design incubator as it was originally conceived. The School of Architecture at Taliesin has recently announced it will close after 88 years. This semester will be the last for its remaining 30 students in Arizona and Taliesin in Wisconsin.
I had the good fortune, as the daughter of the longtime home design editor of The Washington Post, Sarah Booth Conroy, to meet a number of Frank Lloyd Wright’s acolytes and associates. Among them were Edgar Tafel, who wrote “Apprentice to Genius: Years With Frank Lloyd Wright,” and William Wesley Peters–both of whom worked on Fallingwater.
More recently, RD featured a custom home designed in collaboration by a former student and a former dean at SOAT. You’ll find it here.
Below, we run the full press release issued by the public relations firm for the school, followed by some snapshots taken at the CRAN Symposium last September. You’ll find a write-up on the symposium here.
Statement from the PR firm for The School of Architecture at Taliesin:
An innovative and iconic pillar in the architecture world is closing its doors. The School of Architecture at Taliesin will cease operations after this semester, after a gut-wrenching decision by its Governing Board on Saturday.
The School of Architecture at Taliesin was not able to reach an agreement with the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation to keep the school open.
The acclaimed architecture school was established in 1932 by famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright. The school has been integral to Wright’s visionary architecture. Top architectural students from across the U.S. and the world have studied at the school.
The school was previously named the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture. It was renamed in 2017. Students split their time between Wright’s retreats housed at Taliesin West in Scottsdale, Arizona and Taliesin in Spring Green, Wisconsin.
The School of Architecture at Taliesin has been a pillar both in the architecture world as well as Arizona and Wisconsin where Frank Lloyd Wright and his wife Olgivanna invited architecture students to live and work with them and immerse themselves in ‘organic architecture’.
That immersion evolved into the architecture school whose alumni have worked on important Frank Lloyd Wright designs including Fallingwater and the Guggenheim Museum.
“This is a sad and somber day for our school, our students and staff and the architecture community. We are saddened we could not reach an agreement with the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation to continue operating the architecture school. Our innovative school and its mission were integral to Frank Lloyd Wright’s vision for connecting architecture to our natural world. Wright’s legacy was not just building. It was a school to promulgate the lessons for all future generations,” said Dan Schweiker, Chairperson of the Board of Governors for the School of Architecture at Taliesin.
“The closure of the school is very emotional for our students, our faculty and staff and all of us who worked so hard for this one-of-a-kind institution and its important role in Frank Lloyd Wright’s legacy. We did everything possible to fight for its survival but due to other forces it was not meant to be,” Schweiker said.
The School of Architecture at Taliesin (SOAT) will continue operating during the Spring 2020 Semester. The school will officially close by the end of June.
There are approximately 30 students currently enrolled at SOAT.
SOAT is working out an agreement with The Design School at Arizona State University’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts so its students can transfer credits and complete their degree programs.
The School of Architecture at Taliesin offered a unique experience for architecture apprentices and students who traveled to Wisconsin and Arizona to work with Frank Lloyd Wright and other esteemed designers.
Students often design and live in their own residences at the Taliesin campuses. In Scottsdale, those designs have been aimed at living in the Sonoran Desert. Those designs are part of what made SOAT a different type of design and architectural school. Students designed more than buildings. They focus on how to change the world.
Students also plan and entertain guests at formal dinner parties first started by Frank Lloyd Wright and his wife Olgivanna. Architecture students and apprentices at the school would also cook meals, put on and attend artistic and performing arts events as part of those dinners.
The School of Architecture at Taliesin is a separate independent entity from the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. SOAT is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, the National Architectural Accrediting Board, the Arizona State Board for Private Postsecondary Education.
The school is in good standing with accrediting agencies as well as the states of Arizona and Wisconsin.
“In an age of so much turbulence, this school and its students provided so much peace. It breaks my heart that all the parties could not come together to ensure the proper legacy of this great American,” said Jacki Lynn, a Member of the Board of Governors for the School of Architecture at Taliesin.