In 1937, the piece of land that would one day house Taliesin West was classified by the Arizona government as a wasteland, not fit for any kind of public development. However, where others saw only devastation, legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright saw something else. “Finally I learned of a site twenty-six miles from Phoenix, across the desert of the vast Paradise Valley. On up to a great mesa in the mountains. On the mesa just below McDowell Peak we stopped, turned, and looked around. The top of the world.” While Wright and his students had been visiting Arizona since 1933, only then would they permanently establish themselves there.
Taliesin West was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright as his winter residence and thus, is incredibly unique among Wright’s category of work. While most of his projects were designed with the public in mind Taliesin West was built for his own use and could thus be considered the most personal of his projects. Without having to be held responsible to any particular client, Wright was free to pursue his vision of an architectural style unique to the desert. He believed that “Arizona needs its own architecture…Arizona’s long, low, sweeping lines, uptilting planes. Surface patterned after such abstraction in line and color as find ‘realism’ in the patterns of the rattlesnake, the Gila monster, the chameleon, and the saguaro, cholla or staghorn—or is it the other way around—are inspiration enough.”
Currently, Taliesin West serves as the headquarters for the Frank Lloyd Wright foundation and hosts The School of Architecture at Taliesin during the Fall and Spring semesters. To this day, it continues to house aspiring artists and architectures within its walls, carrying on the teachings of Frank Lloyd Wright.