Architecture School Started by Frank Lloyd Wright to Close

The School of Architecture at Taliesin, which encompasses Wright properties in Wisconsin and Arizona, will shutter in June. The school’s governing board said in a statement the “gut-wrenching decision” was made after no agreement could be made with the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation to keep operating the school. Specific details about the negotiations between the school and foundation were not disclosed.

Taliesin exterior by Andrew Pielage via franklloydwright.org

“This is a sad and sombre day for our school, our students and staff and the architecture community,” said Dan Schweiker, chairperson of the Board of Governors.

The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, which is a separate entity, said in its own statement that the school did not have a sustainable business model. The boards of both organizations had come up with a proposal to keep the school going through the end of July 2021. The foundation would have donated use of Taliesin and Taliesin West to the school. But the school’s board didn’t unanimously approve the plan. The decision left the foundation’s board “disappointed.”

“We continue to stand ready to assist in making sure that this change occurs in the best interests of the students,” said Stuart Graff, the foundation’s president and CEO of the foundation.

Taliesin by Jeff Goodman Courtesy of Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation via franklloydwright.org
Taliesin interior by Andrew Pielage via franklloydwright.org

To fill the void, the foundation said it plans to expand its educational programs for K-12 grades and professionals. Both sites will also continue operating tours.

Wright launched the architecture school in 1932. He and his young apprentices would split their time between Taliesin in Spring Green, Wisconsin and Taliesin West in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Taliesin West by Foskett Creative, Courtesy of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation via franklloydwright.org
Taliesin West by Andrew Pielage via franklloydwright.org

The school currently has 30 students. It will remain open for the spring semester. School officials say they are working on an agreement with Arizona State University’s design school to allow those students’ credits to transfer.

Until Wright’s death in 1959 at age 91, Taliesin West was the famed architect’s winter home and laboratory. The original Taliesin, Wright’s primary home in Spring Green, was named after a 6th century Welsh bard whose name means “shining brow.”

Both retreats were among eight Wright-designed buildings recognized as UNESCO World Heritage sites in July.

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