Today, on the 150th birthday of Frank Lloyd Wright, we are pleased to announce the donation of the David Wright House to benefit the School of Architecture at Taliesin, establishing a relationship that will further the School’s mission of educating students to build a more sustainable, open, and beautiful world while fulfilling the potential of the David Wright House to have a perpetual life as a world-class center for design.
Thanks to the generosity of the Rawling family, the David Wright House has been pledged as a gift to benefit the School of Architecture at Taliesin for use as an extension of the 85 year-old educational program founded by Frank Lloyd Wright. Evolving from Frank Lloyd Wright’s precepts of organic architecture, the School’s accredited graduate curriculum is based on the notion of learning by doing, working with the land rather than just building on it, and experimentation. To date, the School has worked in two Wright-designed campuses: Taliesin in Spring Green, Wisconsin, and Taliesin West in Scottsdale, Arizona. The gift of the David Wright House to benefit the School will expand the School’s footprint into the heart of Phoenix and celebrate the legacy of the David Wright House as an instructive environment for the experience and learning of architecture.
This is a landmark year for the School. For the first time since its inception as an apprentice program in 1932, the School will achieve full independence in its academic, financial, and programmatic efforts, becoming an entity separate from, while still a subsidiary of, the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. With new academic leaders in place, the School has reaffirmed its profound commitment to build on Frank Lloyd Wright’s legacy in building and thought and to making positive and critical contributions to education, design research and development, and the communities the School serves. Through a combination of local experts in various aspects of architecture, a Visiting Teaching Fellows program that brings fresh ideas and approaches to the School’s campuses, and a Taliesin Lecture Series that brings world-renowned leaders in the design field to discuss the issues mobilizing the architectural community in a small group setting to engender deep and fruitful learning, the School offers one of the highest quality graduate programs in the nation. The School’s atmosphere and traditions position it to be the finest among graduate architecture schools, inspiring the next generation of thinkers, designers, and visionaries while simultaneously expanding access to women and minority populations that have traditionally been underrepresented in the architectural profession.
At present, having raised more than $2 million to support future operating costs and established a path to independent accreditation to grant Master of Architecture degrees, the School is poised to elevate its graduate program to engage larger audiences – future leading architects from across the world who will be inspired by the Frank Lloyd Wright legacy. The School hopes to grow its enrollment to between 45 and 60 students in the next five years, and is steadily building towards that number.
The David and Gladys Wright House is one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s last masterpieces, commissioned by his son David and daughter-in-law Gladys in 1950. Wright designed the experimental spiral residence at the base of Camelback Mountain as his vision for “How to Live in the Southwest.” Completed in 1952, the residence remained a family home until 2008. After sitting vacant for years, the home was threatened with demolition by local developers in 2012. That threat galvanized an unprecedented community effort to preserve and celebrate what the City of Phoenix’s preservation office recognizes as the greatest building in Phoenix by the greatest architect in American history. The School will take over planning for the preservation of the house and citrus groves immediately, with future restoration acts to be undertaken by the faculty and students of the School. Used as a learning center for graduate architectural students and for philanthropy, academic lectures and community gatherings, the School will realize Wright’s vision for the house as a place of community, celebration, inspiration, education, collective experimentation and active exploration into organic architecture and place-making.
The David Wright House will be formally gifted to a new supporting organization of the Arizona Community Foundation for the benefit of the School of Architecture at Taliesin, whose purpose is to sustain the educational mission of the school by raising the funds needed to achieve the School’s purpose and vision. The pledge of the House to the School of Architecture at Taliesin Foundation is contingent upon the meeting of a $7 million endowment by December 31, 2020. The new organization will own the House and manage the endowment for the benefit of the School, while the School will operate the property, educational curriculum and all community and cultural activities.
We could not be more enthusiastic about the future of the School and the David Wright House, and look forward to the learning opportunity this gift presents for future generations of architecture students, architects, and the cultural community at large. We thank you for your continued interest and support.
Aaron Betsky and Zach Rawling