The Lasting Legacy of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Beloved Home and School

Jerome Powell

Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature; it will never fail you.” So mused the world’s first starchitect, Frank Lloyd Wright. It’s a walk he walked and a talk he talked at Taliesin, as AD noted in a 2004 visit to his beloved home and school, set among the rock outcroppings and mature trees of rural Wisconsin. Until his death in 1959, the estate (begun in 1911 and rebuilt after fires in 1914 and 1925) continued to evolve, offering a laboratory for his designs. “He saw the built environment as a way to connect people and lives,” notes Stuart Graff, president and CEO of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. Today the organization is looking to the past and future, endeavoring to, as Graff explains, “present Wright in ways that encourage people to take his ideas and act on them.” A comprehensive conservation plan for Taliesin is under way, with stabilization work to Wright’s bedroom, erected upon ashes, on the horizon. Among other ongoing projects is the restoration of the Hillside Theatre, in anticipation of live performances for the public. As Graff reflects, “The goal is not just to preserve the structures but preserve the values and ideas that underpin them, and the life that existed within them.” 

Frank Lloyd wright’s bedroom at Taliesin, his Wisconsin home and campus, which appeared in AD’s May 2004 issue (inset).

After its much-publicized parting with the School of Architecture at Taliesin, the foundation is exploring new ways to welcome people on-site at Taliesin and at its sister Arizona campus, Taliesin West, partnering with universities on immersion programs and welcoming contemporary-art installations. (The school, since renamed, recently moved to Cosanti and Arcosanti, Paolo Soleri’s experimental home and community.) All the while, new brand partnerships are reimagining Wright’s interest in licensing projects, which date to the 1950s, when he collaborated with Schumacher on fabrics and Henredon on furniture. Earlier this summer, the foundation and Brizo announced a new collection of bath fixtures in the tradition of Wright that will be available this fall. And there’s more on the way. “Moving forward, the focus will be how to use Wright’s work to inspire a new generation of designers,” says Graff of the collaboration, which bears the spirit if not the signature of the architect himself. “Wright’s legacy is all about connection.” —Sam Cochran

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