Taliesin West is architect Frank Lloyd Wright's winter residence, one of my favourite Phoenix landmarks. I often buy an annual membership and love to revisit several times thoughout the year - the docent's stories are always different, yet equally entertaining, informative, and memorable, delivered with an elegant sense of humor.
With each visit I discover different aspects of the talent and influence of the architect in the Phoenix area.
My last visit to Taliesin was prompted by a sudden change in my schedule, and I was so happy and grateful that there was a spot on the tour.
Our docent was a lady who had seen in 1964 the construction of Gammage Hall , Arizona State University's Performing Arts Center. She also knew one of the students/apprentices, Heloise Crista, a sculptor, whose work can be seen on the Taliesin West campus. Heloise Crista lived on the Taliesin West campus and passed away last year at age 92. Two of her bronze sculptures below:
The route of the tour was through the architect's work studio/office, the front of the school building with expansive views of the whole Phoenix area, though the breezeway, the living room, the bedrooms, the Kiva, the dining area, the Drafting Studio, the Music Pavilion and the Cabaret. The views from the living room are amazing; on the photos below, if you squint your eyes, you may see the Black Mountain and the Superstitions mountains, about 72 miles away.
The docent demonstrated the incredible accoustics in the cabaret. People sitting on the last row can hear equally well as the ones in the first row - why, there are no parallel walls in the cabaret building.
The Drafting studio had no students in it now, as the they are in Taliesin Wisconsin until early October. Then they come back to Taliesin West in Scottsdale, AZ for their winter semester, and stay till end of April. Frank Lloyd Wright liked to collect cars, he had 92 of them and they helped transport faculty, staff and apprentices in a caravan-like manner back and forth between Taliesin Wisconsin and Taliesin West. The Master's Degree program in Architecture has an enrollment of about 30 students. The 8-week Immersive Program is geared towards college-level students and adults of all ages. I glanced quickly into the syllabus of the Spring Immersion Program, which was themed "Escape in a World of Connectivity", inviting participants to search for answers to questions like: 'what is escape in a world full of connectivity', 'is it possible to be 'lost' when everything is tracked', 'what is the aesthetic value of the contemporary, colonized desert'.
The Insights tour takes about 1.5 hours, and is a memorable experience.