Thursday, October 13, 2005

Travelling to Taliesin West...

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: The desert gem Frank Lloyd Wright called home

With this year's Frank Lloyd Wright conference at Taliesin West nearly upon those lucky enough to be attending, the 'Trib' dropped in on Taliesin to see what's afooot...

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- After zigzagging happily through the wildness of northern Arizona I dropped down into the Phoenix megalopolis... [where], eventually, I took a left over an aqueduct and followed a winding road through the Sonoran Desert. Within minutes I was holding a glass of chardonnay in the courtyard of the great architect's winter home...

The large, fit stones gave the walls a raw, earthy, almost jigsaw quality. [Arnold] Roy [Taliesin Fellowship member] said: "Somebody once asked, `What did Frank Lloyd Wright have on
the walls for decoration?' The walls were decoration."

"This is the last of a breed of building that tried to incorporate the wilderness of Arizona into the design," said ... fellowship member, Tony Puttnam, "His saying about `a view at the rim of the world'--what was he looking at? The whole complexity of things. It's more complicated than a native-based architecture...

Wright himself said that he designed not from ideas but from feelings. In an interview once, Mike Wallace called him an "intellectual" and Wright balked at the title. "I am not an intellectual," he argued. "I have my feet on the ground."

From the moment he saw it, he was attracted to the "vast battleground of titanic forces called Arizona." And, also, "the eternal and everlasting smile of the sun."

Anecdotes were trotted out: of the boy, living in a Wright-designed house, who wrote asking him to design a doghouse for his Labrador retriever. (Wright's design appears in the book "Barkitecture.") Of the nearby power lines, which so disturbed Wright that he wrote to President Truman requesting that they be placed underground. When Truman refused, saying it would create a precedent, Wright replied: "I have been creating precedents all my life."

[Article from the Chicago Tribune Travel section. Photos courtesy AvO and MvO]

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