Road Trippin’ Vi:The Wright Experience

This post is dedicated to our favorite architect – Steve Kalkman. You’ve met Steve in many of my earlier posts. I’ve known him for about 25 years, since he came to work, fresh out of school, at the architectural and engineering firm I was working at. We went our separate ways, but reconnected some 20 years later when I met his wife Joan at another workplace. Since then, Mark and I have become close to Steve and Joan, and maintained a friendship even when they moved to Florida.

We’ve journeyed with them over the past 2.5 years as Steve has battled colon cancer, and we’ve cried as we’ve come to to grips with the fact that  he is losing the battle. He worked his way into our hearts and will continue to live there with us even after we say goodbye. I know that the many friends he has made all over the world would say the same.

We’re fans of architect Frank Lloyd Wright, so decided to head south to Scottsdale, to see his winter home of Taliesin West. Wright’s summer home was in Spring Green, Wisconsin, and was also called Taliesin. The name means “shining brow” in Welsh. Wright built his home on the brow of the hill, leaving the crown, or top, open.

Taliesin West was established in 1937 after Wright’s doctor told him he needed to be in a warmer climate than Wisconsin for the winter. It is situated on 550 acres in Scottsdale, and has been designated a National Historic Landmark.

The home here was a constant work in process for Frank Lloyd Wright. He would try things out for a wile, then have them taken down so he could try something else. He believed the two most important tools for an architect were an eraser and a wrecking ball.  Walls were built, moved, and removed over the years.

The Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture is housed here. The school was designed to train architects in his philosophy of “organic architecture,” and includes classrooms with lots of natural lighting, lodging rooms, a cabaret and dance studio as well as as Wright’s own living quarters. In the 1990’s, it became an accredited school of architecture, teaching the last two years of a baccalaureate program as well as offering comprehensive study towards a professional Master of Architecture Degree.

Taliesin West’s setting is stunning, and Wright’s use of the property was very creative. Although he believed that the outside and inside should look like they flow together, he was able to create spaces that were seemingly independent of each other. You can walk around a corner and be very surprised by the feel of a new space.

It was truly beautiful, but not always practical. Doorways are very narrow, ceilings are low, the furniture that he designed was aesthetically pleasing but not comfortable. We were not allowed to take photos of the living quarters or education rooms, but were able to in other areas.

We live in Minnesota, only 330 miles from the original Taliesin, but we haven’t visited yet. What’s wrong with us? The farther away something is, apparently the more attractive it is.

About kcbernick

I love to travel.
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