Frank Lloyd Wright and Taliesin West in Scottsdale, Arizona

Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin West
••• Jim Steinfeldt / Getty Images
  • 01 of 07

    Frank Lloyd Wright and Taliesin West

    Taliesin West, Scottsdale
    ••• Taliesin West, Scottsdale. Chicago History Museum / Contributor Collection / Getty Images

    In northeast of Scottsdale, Arizona there is a living memorial to a great American architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. Nestled in the foothills of the McDowell Mountains and surrounded by the spectacular Sonoran Desert lays a sprawling 600-acre complex called Taliesin West. It was designed and built by Frank Lloyd Wright. The buildings and the landscape at Taliesin West complement each other. They coexist in harmony -- form and color, beauty and grace, nature and science are all blended. Taliesin West (pronounced: tal-ee-ess-in) is a National Historic Landmark.

    Frank Lloyd Wright was born in 1867. Wright grew up in rural Wisconsin, was taught the virtue of hard work, and acquired a love of the landscape. At the age of eighteen he entered university to study civil engineering and shortly thereafter began his career in architecture. He became a revolutionary and a nonconformist. He despised what he called the stale, backward looking ideas of his peers who were designing architecture based on...MORE the Greek, Roman, Gothic, and Tudor models instead of creating a new, vibrant American landscape. He longed to be freed from the limits of existing material and designs. In his various writings, he described "organic architecture" with site-specific construction where "form and function were one." He set forth the principles of the Prairie House with open expanses and limited subdivisions, which he referred to as "boxes." While his architectural principles gained him fame overseas, Frank Lloyd Wright was not always appreciated at home, where he was often ridiculed. Eventually the number of his followers grew.

    Frank Lloyd Wright/Taliesin West Factoid: Frank Lloyd Wright visited Arizona for the first time in 1927. He often stayed at a temporary camp near Chandler.

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  • 02 of 07

    Why Did Frank Lloyd Wright Build Taliesin West?

    Frank Lloyd Wright and Taliesin West
    ••• Guided Tour at Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin West. Judy Hedding

    Taliesin I was built in 1911 in Wisconsin. The word Taliesin means "a shining brow" perhaps alluding to the scenic location and vista. It was built to be a home, a work place, a school and a cultural center for his students. Wright designed it all, to the last piece of furniture. In 1914 it suffered severe fire damage. Taliesin II was soon built on the same spot but was also damaged by fire, and again rebuilt as Taliesin III.

    In 1927 architect Albert Chase McArthur (a former student of Wright’s) asked Wright to help him with the projected construction of the Arizona Biltmore Hotel. Wright accepted, came to Phoenix and presented plans based on his unusual architectural principles. There was opposition to the unique design and some compromises were made. Known today as The Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa, the award winning property describes itself as “the only existing hotel in the world with a Frank Lloyd Wright-influenced design.”

    Taliesin West was planned and built by the...MORE master and his disciples. Indigenous materials were used throughout and his students built it, basically by hand. The visitor to Taliesin West is struck by the expanse of the site, the intricate structures built of massive walls fashioned of desert rock embedded in masonry, topped with canvas flaps for ceilings affixed to redwood beams. The structures at Taliesin West are sort of tents, but not tents by virtue of their weight and permanence. The units are arranged at various distances and angles connected by terraces, lawns, pools and stairways. Wright wrote, “Our new desert camp belonged to the Arizona desert as though it had stood there during creation.”

    Frank Lloyd Wright/Taliesin West Factoid: In 1937, when Frank Lloyd Wright was 70 years old, he decided to build a winter residence in an undeveloped portion of the Scottsdale desert with a view of the Valley.

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  • 03 of 07

    Frank Lloyd Wright in Arizona

    Frank Lloyd Wright and Taliesin West
    ••• Pool at Taliesin West. Judy Hedding

    Wright founded the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture in 1932 to teach his theories and practices to young men and women. Subsequently, he decided that he needed a camp to escape the harsh Wisconsin winters. Five years later the seventy-year-old architect returned to Arizona and purchased the land upon which he built Taliesin West.

    It turned out to be much more than the winter camp for which it was intended. In the course of the next 22 years until his death in 1959, Frank Lloyd Wright was awarded, rewarded, decorated and celebrated here and abroad. He was a prolific writer, inventor, world traveler, and, of course, architect.

    Over the course of the time that Frank Lloyd Wright spent in Arizona, he designed and built many projects, including some in the Phoenix area. They include the inspiring Grady Gammage Memorial Auditorium -- now referred to as A.S.U. Gammage -- on the campus of Arizona State University. The building was completed posthumously.

    Frank Lloyd Wright/Taliesin West...MORE Factoid: Frank Lloyd Wright designed many homes and buildings in Arizona, but most of them were never built.

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  • 04 of 07

    Public Tours at Taliesin West

    Frank Lloyd Wright and Taliesin West
    ••• Frank Lloyd Wright's Living Quarters. Judy Hedding

    Taliesin West today houses The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation (fundraising), The Frank Lloyd Wright Memorial Foundation (archives), and The Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture. The Taliesin Association of Artists, a group of architects dedicated to the spirit of the founder, is also on site at Taliesin West.

    Taliesin West offers several tours of the buildings, including Wright's home. As a matter of fact, a guided tour is the only way visitors can see the Taliesin West complex.

    • Panorama Tour: 1 hour. Visit the Cabaret Theater, Music Pavilion, Kiva, Frank Lloyd Wright’s private office, outdoor spaces terraces, gardens and walkways. Year-round.
    • The Insights Tour: 90 minutes. Same as the Panorama Tour, plus Frank Lloyd Wright's living quarters. Year-round.
    • Behind-the-Scenes: 3 hours. In-depth look at Taliesin West. It is the Insights Tour, but with the opportunity to talk to Wright associates. Architecture enthusiasts especially enjoy this tour. Year round.
    • Desert Walk: 90...MORE minutes. Guided desert nature walk at Taliesin West with in-depth description about native materials found on the site and used by Wright. November through April only.
    • Desert/Insights Tour: A combination tour offered November through April.
    • Night Lights in the Desert: 2 hours. Includes everything on the Insights Tour, but seen with a different perspective in the twilight. Light refreshments. February, March, April, May, October, November. In December the Night Lights Tour goes festive for the holidays, with music and light holiday refreshments.

    Tour schedules and prices.

    Frank Lloyd Wright/Taliesin West Factoid: Taliesin West sits on 640 acres. It has more than 150,000 visitors every year.

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  • 05 of 07

    Other Activities at Taliesin West

    Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin West
    ••• Jim Steinfeldt / Getty Images

    The Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture offers academically and professionally accredited undergraduate and graduate degrees. There are students and faculty working here. Also on this property, The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Archives is "the largest and most complete collection of materials related to a single artist housed under one roof anywhere in the world."

    From time to time special events -- workshops, concerts and exhibitions -- will be hosted by Taliesin West. "The primary objective of The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation’s Arts & Culture Program is to offer the public various performances, exhibitions, and workshops in the area of arts and culture. The program serves to heighten public awareness of Taliesin as a National Historic Landmark and draws attention to the historical intersection of architecture, arts, and agriculture unique to the Taliesin campus."

    Arrangements for corporate functions may be made. Taliesin West does not rent facilities for...MORE political or activist events, or for religious ceremonies. While they used to, I am advised (2014) that Taliesin West no longer is available for weddings/receptions.

    Frank Lloyd Wright/Taliesin West Factoid: The Frank Lloyd Wright Archives contains 22,000 original drawings and other documents, as well as 400,000 other artifacts. It is the largest collection of work by a single artist in a single location.

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  • 06 of 07

    Tips For Visiting Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin West

    Frank Lloyd Wright and Taliesin West
    ••• Breezeway With a View of the Valley. Judy Hedding

    Here are some things you should know before you take a tour at Taliesin West.

    1. People are not permitted to wander on their own around Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin West property. You must enroll in a guided tour to experience it.
    2. You can sign up for a tour in the gift shop, but advance reservations are accepted and are recommended.
    3. Several of the tours take place all year long, including during the summer months. The tours vary as to how much outdoor activity there is, but it is advisable to carry a bottle of water with you no matter which tour you decide to take and no matter what time of year. There are no refreshment stops during the tours.
    4. You may take pictures at Taliesin West, but not in the gift shop.
    5. I don't recommend the tours for young children. There are no activities for them.
    6. There is no charge if you just want to visit the Book Store. It is one of the best, unique gift shops in the Valley of the Sun!

    Frank Lloyd Wright/Taliesin West Factoid: Taliesin West was designated a...MORE National Historic Landmark in 1982.

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  • 07 of 07

    Taliesin West Address and Directions

    Frank Lloyd Wright and Taliesin West
    ••• Taliesin West Gift Shop. Judy Hedding

    Taliesin West is the Arizona home of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. it is located in Scottsdale, which is east of Phoenix, AZ. Tours of the Frank Lloyd Wright winter home, office, and the School of Architecture are offered at Taliesin West. The entrance to Taliesin West is located at the intersection of Cactus Road and Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard (the equivalent of  114th Street) in northeast Scottsdale.

    Taliesin West Address
    12621 N. Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd.
    Scottsdale, AZ 85259

    GPS 33.606395,-111.845172

    Tours start at $24 per person (2106). Parking is free. Discounts for seniors, active military, students and youth are available for most tours.

    Entrance to the Book Store/Gift Shop is free. Taliesin West is open every day except Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter.

    Phone 480-860-2700

    Visit Taliesin West online.

    Taliesin West is located in northeast Scottsdale, north and east of Phoenix, Arizona.

    From The Loop 101 (Pima Loop) in Scottsdale, exit at Cactus Road and travel east to...MORE Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd. Cross over Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd which becomes Taliesin Drive. Follow that road to Taliesin West.

    You can see this location marked on a Google map. From there you can zoom in and out, get driving directions if you need more specifics than mentioned above, and see what else is nearby.

    All dates, times, prices and offerings are subject to change without notice.