November 15, 2019
The School of Architecture at Taliesin has now surpassed the size it was before becoming an independent academic institution two years ago. As our student totals, the quality of their work, and the scope of our exchanges and outside programs continue to grow, we are actively building a community of support that can extend our work and act as a foundation for the School’s future success.
By this spring there will be close to thirty students enrolled in the School. Those totals include several students who will join us for a semester from the Michael Graves School of Architecture in New Jersey. In addition to these graduate enrollees, we will also welcome our winter Immersion program, in which aspiring architects and aficionados from around the world come to Taliesin West for eight weeks to live and work with us. Later in the spring, we will welcome a group of students from Taiwan for a workshop lasting several weeks, as well as, a group of students from Urban Environment Design in Beijing, who will come here before traveling to Louna, a valley in southern China where some of our faculty will join them this summer for a design/build workshop.
All of this activity will strengthen the School’s increasingly international profile, while at the same time we bring the world to our communities in Scottsdale, Arizona, and Spring Green, Wisconsin. Our Taliesin Forum lecture series, which spans both locations, welcomes architects from as far away as Spain and China this fall and spring to discussions not just with our students, faculty, and staff, but also with architects and citizens who attend these events free of charge (with great gratitude to the Rio Salado Architecture Foundation). In addition, we have started the Twelve Talks, in which entrepreneurs from related areas share their thoughts with us – speakers will include Luke Wood, co-founder of Beats, Jason Fried, founder of Basecamp, tk, and Leon Ramakers, co-founder of Mojo Productions.
While all this work is going on, our students are living and learning architecture. After placing our last graduates in positions around the United States and Europe, we are now looking forward to the construction of six new shelters at Taliesin West. Each one of them will be wildly different, but each will continue the tradition of living in and with the desert Frank Lloyd Wright started in 1937, and each will be built by the students themselves.
Our first- and second-year students continue to experiment with new materials, such as a contemporary version of textile block currently under research in collaboration with local Native American tribes, and with new ways to combine hand drawing and computer technology. Under the direction of our Visiting Teaching Fellow, Sarosh Anklesaria (who next semester will take up a position teaching at Yale University), our second-year students are working on the integration of agriculture, architecture, and sustainable cuisine.
This latter topic is becoming increasingly interesting to us. As Taliesin Preservation, Inc. continues to expand its culinary program and explore Wright’s legacy not just in architecture, but in landscape and agriculture, we are looking for ways in which we can align our own interests in alternative models for sprawl and non-sustainable land development. We believe that the Broadacre City model still has many lessons to teach us.
We also look forward to the future development of the Student Lounge, a project started by Jose Amaya, who graduated last spring, and which is now being carried forward as a shelter project by third year student Michael Simmons.
We are very grateful to all of you have supported these activities, and who have helped us get the word out about the growth in quality and quantity of this program. Sixty years after its founder’s passing, the School continues to be a place where great architecture is made and where experimentation and learning by doing are part of every day’s activity. You have also been part of those activities in so many ways, and we look forward to seeing you here and to working with you to build the best experimental school of architecture in this country.
Please drop me a (e)line or come to see us at our next Forum Lecture. Best wishes,
Aaron Betsky, President