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Iconic Architecture Built With Nature In Mind

Taliesin_v2After hiking the Grand Canyon for three days I went to Scottsdale to relax for a bit before flying back to New York. Despite feeling sore from descending all the way down to the canyon and hiking back up, I didn’t want to miss a visit to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West. The building is located in northeast Scottsdale and beautifully merges indoor and outdoor living, nowadays successfully imitated by many modern prefab homes. Wright built it between 1937 and 1959 to be his personal winter home, studio and to serve as an architectural campus. Today it also houses the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture.

Since I missed the beginning of the 90-minute insights tour, I just briefly stopped at his original office space before meeting the rest of the group holding umbrellas in Wright’s signature color red as sun protection. The next stop was the “garden room”, a gathering place for the architect and his many guests consisting of students and famous artists. It opens to a garden on the east and to the horizon on the south. All of us were invited to sit on Wright’s original “origami” armchairs made of a single piece of plywood that were surprisingly comfortable. Quiet frankly I was grateful to give my legs some rest while the guide explained that the ceiling was originally made of canvas before getting replaced with glass.

What I liked the most about the design of Taliesin West was how the building respects the nature of the site as part of Wright’s definition of “organic architecture”.  The building incorporates local rocks and boulders into the cement that forms the main building material. Most of the building frames the views of the surrounding area through windows or hallways. Some of my favorite discoveries were the breezeway that creates a compression area for wind to go through and the design of window corners where two glass panels meet at a 90-degree angle to allow for wider views. Many of Wright’s design philosophies are still highly influential today and the tour contains numerous anecdotes about his life as an educator, husband, and entertainer. Taliesin West is definitely worth a visit for architecture and nature lovers alike.

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