Taliesin: Frank Lloyd Wright’s School of Architecture to close after 88 years

Decision has been described as 'gut-wrenching' by the school's board

Roisin O'Connor@Roisin_OConnor
Wednesday 29 January 2020 15:36
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Frank Lloyd Wright discussing plans with one of his apprentices as other students of the 'Taliesin Fellowship' work in the drafting room, 1945
Frank Lloyd Wright discussing plans with one of his apprentices as other students of the 'Taliesin Fellowship' work in the drafting room, 1945

Taliesin, the famous architecture school founded by Frank Lloyd Wright during the Great Depression, is to close at the end of June, it has been announced.

Established by Wright and his wife Olgivanna in 1932, the prestigious private graduate school offered a three-year master’s programme that espoused his philosophy of “organic architecture”.

Wright is regarded as one of the most important architects from the 20th century. Last year, eight Wright-designed buildings, including both the Taliesin school complexes, were placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List by the cultural arm of the United Nations, to mark the 60th anniversary of his death.

The school released a statement on Wednesday 29 January announcing that the board of directors had been forced to make the “gut-wrenching” decision to close both campuses – one in Spring Green, Wisconsin and another in Scottsdale, Arizona – in a move its backers have described as “tragic”.

“The School of Architecture at Taliesin was not able to reach an agreement with the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation to keep the school open,” it said.

Chairperson Dan Schweiker said the board did “everything possible” to fight for the school’s survival. “The closure of the school is very emotional for our students, our faculty and staff and all of us who worked so hard for this one-of-a-kind institution and its important role in Frank Lloyd Wright’s legacy,” he said.

The school’s early cohorts of students were known as “apprentices”, and eventually rotated between the two Taliesins. Some of Wright’s students worked with him on his most famous projects, such as the Guggenheim Museum in New York.

The front of the Taliesin in Arizona

In a news release reported by the Chicago Tribune, the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation appeared to shift blame to the school board, claiming it “did not have a sustainable business model that would allow it to maintain its operations as an accredited programme”.

Stuart Graff, the foundation’s president, said the 30 students currently enrolled at the school would be able to transfer credits to a design school at Arizona State University.

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