Midway milk tower shelter design by Russell Mahoney. Photo Rebecca Sadler.
Both campuses provide places for casual conversation and work.
Student room at the west wing of Taliesin. Photo Rebecca Sadler.
Students and faculty attending to the vegetable garden at Hillside.
Interior view of a desert shelter.
The hanging tent shelter after recent restoration. Photo Pranav Naik.
Students visiting one of the desert shelters. Photo Pranav Naik.
Celebration in the Taliesin living room. Photo Pranav Naik.
The Taliesin Quartet performing in the Hillside Theater. Photo Pranav Naik.
Students and residents participate in the kitchen periodically, assisting the chef.
The main dining room at Hillside. Students and residents rotate in the upkeep of the space.
The School's motto, Live Architecture, is practiced continually in the context of the residential learning environment where life and work are integrated.
“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 on both campuses, 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 campuses, 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 campuses.
Most students live in modest rooms on campuses. 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 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.
Since the early days of the Taliesin Fellowship, when a working farm was integrated in the program, Taliesin has maintained a central kitchen where meals are prepared daily. Though in its 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. The School also cultivates vegetable gardens that provide fresh produce seasonally.
Donald Schön (1983) suggested that the capacity to reflect in action so as to engage in a process of continuous learning was one of the defining characteristics of professional practice. He argued that the model of professional training which he termed "Technical Rationality"—of charging students up with knowledge in training schools so that they could discharge when they entered the world of practice, perhaps more aptly termed a "battery" model—has never been a particularly good description of how professionals "think in action", and is quite inappropriate to practice in a fast-changing world.
The cultivation of the capacity to reflect in action (while doing something) and on action (after you have done it) has become an important feature of professional training programs in many disciplines, and its encouragement is seen as a particularly important aspect of the role of the mentor of the beginning professional. Indeed, it can be argued that “real” reflective practice needs another person as mentor or professional supervisor, who can ask appropriate questions to ensure that the reflection goes somewhere, and does not get bogged down in self-justification, self-indulgence, or self-pity.
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.
Performance projects – including dramatic, dance, choral, and instrumental performances – are frequently given by students and community members. The theaters at both Taliesin campuses 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 cleaning. Community maintenances support 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.
The optional Study Abroad component of the curriculum – generally of one to four months duration – provides students with the opportunity to engage in special interest areas outside of the main campus, such as studying at another university, interning in an architectural office, or working with a client on a project. These experiences often occur in other countries, but can take place in other cultural contexts within the US. The student works with the faculty to determine and pursue the study abroad opportunity. The School also supports and helps organize group study trips nationally and internationally.
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. 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