“An architect is a builder, a constructor, a form-giver, and he’s got to be a master of idea-giving, of ideas. He’s got to know ideas when he sees or hears them. He’s got to experiment lifelong in connection with those things which he himself has come to understand.”—Frank Lloyd Wright, Sunday Morning Talk, June 18, 1950
Students become full-time residents at both locations, year-round, during their studies. This intense and rewarding residential experience is shaped by two forces that bear essential relevance on the experience of architecture: the force of the landscape as captured in the genius loci (spirit of place) of the two locations, and the force of self-discovery in the context of a living culture of architecture. In addition to the more formal Integrated Studies (general education) requirements, students plan, prepare, participate in, and attend a wide variety of non-architectural offerings and activities at both Taliesin and Taliesin West.
Most students live in modest dwellings at Taliesin and Taliesin West. The option of living in tents or shelters in the desert at Taliesin West, or in prairie shelters at Taliesin, offers students the unprecedented experience of shaping the quality of their living spaces and to become the user of their own designs. For the desert dwellers, locker rooms are provided where students store their belongings and have access to bathrooms and showers.
The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation is a leader in its communities in preserving the natural open space that comprises the inherent character of each of its campuses. The open spaces are one of the unique aspects of the Taliesin educational experience and students are encouraged to make full use of the properties by studying the components of biodiversity, understanding ecological responsibility, responding to the “poetry of place,” and learning to manage the impact of a built structure on its surrounding environment.
Food and Healthy Eating
Since the early days of the Taliesin Fellowship, when a working farm was integrated into the program, Taliesin has maintained a central kitchen where meals are prepared daily. Though in it's history the kitchen was a rotating participation by all residents, in recent years Taliesin employs a professional chef with whom students work periodically and learn culinary basics. In Wisconsin, the School also cultivates vegetable gardens that provide fresh produce seasonally.
Practice of Reflection
The Taliesin pedagogy values the well-being of the individual student and encourages students to plan their time to include periods of reflection and rest, despite the ongoing urge to be "doing something." Despite Frank Lloyd Wright's well know motto "add tired to tired," in recent years the School adapted to the needs of a fast-paced culture that may exert redundant pressure on individuals, particularly learners. The beauty of the natural environments at both campuses offers opportunities for retreat and reflection outdoors, in addition to the students' personal spaces.
Music and Performance
Performance projects – including drama, dance, choral, and instrumental performances – are frequently given by students and community members. The theaters at both Taliesin and Taliesin West are popular venues for lectures, musical performances, cultural experiences, and other special events. Students attend these offerings at no charge. Visiting artists also engage in the life of the School, community, and the campuses’ natural open spaces, providing a rich supplement to the core discipline of architecture.
Community activities include seasonal, weekly, and daily maintenance duties such as cooking, dishwashing, gardening, and studio/housekeeping. Community maintenance supports the educational programs of the School and Foundation. Along with resident faculty and staff, students plan and execute special events such as performances, guest lectures, and formal evening events. Students will often assume a leadership role in the planning, design, and coordination of an event. On other occasions, they will provide needed assistance, for example, designing and preparing graphic pieces such as flyers and programs. These experiences provide students with opportunities to interact in a variety of contexts with community members as well as guests.
The Community component of the program is based on Frank Lloyd Wright’s strongly-held belief that, “a great architect is not made by way of a brain nearly so much as he is made by way of a cultivated, enriched heart.” Community involvement at Taliesin provides opportunities for students to explore the social and cultural contexts of architecture and to integrate and apply the content, philosophies, and disciplines of all learning through the experience and social interaction of daily living and community maintenance.
Through their participation in Community, students learn to apply critical thinking and creative problem solving in challenging situations that arise as part of projects of any size; and they learn to resolve the human problems that occur whenever people attempt to work together cooperatively. Students come to the School from a wide variety of cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds, yet are expected to leave Taliesin prepared to function as professionals. Community participation, by providing students with opportunities to develop social skills, conversational skills, leadership and collaborative skills, and cultural awareness prepares them to enter the architectural profession with the poise and confidence needed to interact with clients of all kinds.
Time Away / Vacation
Students are expected to be present on campus when scheduled activities are in session, particularly Core offerings. Absence from scheduled activities must be approved by the School and work supervisors in advance. The School allows 25 calendar days of vacation per academic year, subject to schedule approval. A three-week winter holiday break and additional seasonal breaks throughout the year supplement the allotted vacation days. Unused vacation time expires at the beginning of each academic year.
Academic leaves of absence are subject to advance School approval. Medical leaves must be documented and medical records must be on file with the School. Travel to Wisconsin occurs in mid-May and the return to Taliesin West occurs in October.
Continuing a tradition begun in 1937, the School operates seasonally at two locations. From mid–October through mid-May, (the Fall and Winter Terms) the School is in session at Taliesin West in Scottsdale, Arizona. Mid-may through mid-October (Summer Term) is spent at Taliesin in Spring Green, Wisconsin.
The migration travels provide opportunities to visit places of interest, architectural sites, and experience the vast landscapes between Arizona and Wisconsin. Seven to ten days are allowed for each trip. The travel time between the two campuses does not count as vacation time. Each student is responsible for the cost of his/her own travel