Tour Frank Lloyd Wright's Spectacular Desert Retreat and School in Arizona

Add to
Like
Share
By Anna Squier / Published by Dwell
A masterful extension of the desert landscape in Scottsdale, Taliesin West is a living memorial to the inspiring life and work of Frank Lloyd Wright.

Built in 1937, Taliesin West was an experiment in desert living that evolved at the hands of master architect Frank Lloyd Wright and his apprentices until he passed in 1959. Conceptualized as a refuge from the harsh winters of the Midwest, the complex—which grew to include a drafting studio, dining facilities, three theaters, a workshop, Wright’s office and private living quarters, and apprentice and staff residences—takes direct inspiration from the arid landscape. Watch the video below for an exclusive tour of the grounds:

Over the years, Wright continually rethought previous design solutions and rebuilt sections of Taliesin West with the assistance of his apprentices. Today, the complex continues to be the headquarters of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation and School of Architecture.

Newsletter
Join the Daily Dose Mailing List

Get carefully curated content filled with inspiring homes from around the world, innovative new products, and the best in modern design

Taliesin West is a Frank Lloyd Wright masterpiece composed of locally sourced materials, rich red hues, and thoughtful indoor/outdoor connections. 

Taliesin West is a Frank Lloyd Wright masterpiece composed of locally sourced materials, rich red hues, and thoughtful indoor/outdoor connections. 

The spaces are connected through terraces, gardens, and pools.   Heavy stone walls are balanced with the redwood form work and delicate canvas roof.

The spaces are connected through terraces, gardens, and pools. Heavy stone walls are balanced with the redwood form work and delicate canvas roof.

Set amid the desert foothills in Scottsdale, Arizona, Taliesin maneuvers its way through terraces, landscaped gardens, pools, and walkways, which provide views to both the mountainous peaks and the urban valley. The structures maintain a strong connection to the desert. Long, low, sweeping lines and up-tilting planes make up the buildings, ensuring natural ventilation and protection from intense desert sun. Walls were made from local desert rocks, stacked within wood forms, and filled with concrete. Natural redwood timber framing exudes rich red hues, blending nicely with the earthy and sandy tones of the walls. Wright's interest in using locally available materials creates a close relationship between the buildings and the landscape. 

Rich red hues and earthy sandy tones create a close relationship between the buildings and the landscape.

Rich red hues and earthy sandy tones create a close relationship between the buildings and the landscape.

Constructed from local desert rocks, the exterior walls resonate with the natural setting.

Constructed from local desert rocks, the exterior walls resonate with the natural setting.

The rock wall formations ground the buildings into the desert landscape.

The rock wall formations ground the buildings into the desert landscape.

Deeply influenced by Asian culture, art, and design, Wright reflected some of that influence into the design of Taliesin West.  Here, the "Moon Gate," a circular opening, displays a hint of the Eastern influence.

Deeply influenced by Asian culture, art, and design, Wright reflected some of that influence into the design of Taliesin West. Here, the "Moon Gate," a circular opening, displays a hint of the Eastern influence.

Taliesin is a series of spaces that are connected through experiences within the natural setting. In contrast to the heavy stone masonry, a light canvas-covered roof delicately shelters the interior. Compelling environments are a blend of rich primary hues and natural materials, accented by detailed craftwork.

Roof overhangs moderate the amount of light that fills the space.  The redwood structure remains exposed on the interior, creating a seamless exterior to interior connection.

Roof overhangs moderate the amount of light that fills the space. The redwood structure remains exposed on the interior, creating a seamless exterior to interior connection.

A stone hearth anchors the grand space.  Custom Taliesin Wright Chairs were purposefully designed for the human scale and provide a variety of seating options, and are covered in rich velvet textiles.

A stone hearth anchors the grand space. Custom Taliesin Wright Chairs were purposefully designed for the human scale and provide a variety of seating options, and are covered in rich velvet textiles.

The Cabaret Theater, used for music and theater, displays the thickness of the exterior walls with buttressing structural supports extending to the roof.  Bold red chairs and lush red carpet match warm, desert hues.

The Cabaret Theater, used for music and theater, displays the thickness of the exterior walls with buttressing structural supports extending to the roof. Bold red chairs and lush red carpet match warm, desert hues.

The Cabaret Theater is an open-air venue, blending exterior and interior spaces. The low roof overhang protects visitors from the harsh desert sun.

The Cabaret Theater is an open-air venue, blending exterior and interior spaces. The low roof overhang protects visitors from the harsh desert sun.

The Music Pavilion is filled with a soft, uniform white light diffused by the canvas roof overhead.  Deep red hues echo the warmth of the desert.

The Music Pavilion is filled with a soft, uniform white light diffused by the canvas roof overhead. Deep red hues echo the warmth of the desert.

The Kiva Room, a half-submerged space,  doubled as a conference room and movie theater for the Taliesin Fellowship.  Today, the space displays beauty and culture through craft and detailing.

The Kiva Room, a half-submerged space, doubled as a conference room and movie theater for the Taliesin Fellowship. Today, the space displays beauty and culture through craft and detailing.

Taliesin West is a dynamic community that is open to the public, providing a broad range of guided tours that draw visitors into the details, spaces, and experiences of Taliesin. Whether you want to view the private collections, go behind the scenes, visit Wright's private quarters, or experience the natural setting, a visit to Taliesin is sure to delight and inspire as you meander through one of Frank Lloyd Wright's most personal creations. 

Shortly after Frank Lloyd Wright's death in 1959, apprentice Aaron Green presented Olgivanna Lloyd Wright with this bronze dragon, which was originally intended to be used as a water fountain.  She had the apprentices perch the dragon on top of a stone steel outside of the Kiva and connect it to a gas line so it could breathe fire.  The dragon continues to breathe fire on Night Lights tours at Taliesin West.

Shortly after Frank Lloyd Wright's death in 1959, apprentice Aaron Green presented Olgivanna Lloyd Wright with this bronze dragon, which was originally intended to be used as a water fountain. She had the apprentices perch the dragon on top of a stone steel outside of the Kiva and connect it to a gas line so it could breathe fire. The dragon continues to breathe fire on Night Lights tours at Taliesin West.

Learn more about tours provided by the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation at this spectacular Frank Lloyd Wright masterpiece here.