If you’ve been following my Instagram lately you might have noticed that we visited Frank Lloyd Wright’s western home and architectural design school – Taliesin West.
I thought I knew a lot about the great architect. I’ve been a fan of his forever it seems – I studied him in college, read several books about him, and have visited one of his Usonian Homes in Virginia. We took the 1 1/2 hour tour and I was enrapt the entire time! Never too old to learn, right? With that said, I’d like to share some fun facts.
Taliesin is a Welsh word that means ‘shining forehead.’ Wright interpreted it to mean brow. What does that have to do with architecture? Well, as you may know, Frank Lloyd Wright was famous for buildings that blend with the surrounding landscape. He didn’t build on top of the hill, but rather further down from the crest, or the brow of the hill.
Notice how nicely it nestles right into the environment.
He also liked to use shapes that reflect the environs. In this case he used the shape of a flowering ocotillo plant – that’s the one in the background, just starting to bud out. He repeated that shape throughout the grounds, in sculptures, walls, and buildings.
Another repetitive shape came from this hieroglyph that was found in the desert while they were building the house and school.
You can see it everywhere from the sculpture on the front gate that you see above to the grates on the drains.
Another signature component of FLW is his use of natural materials that are native to the landscape.
The buildings and surrounding walls are all made with boulders collected from the desert floor.
FLW thought of everything – no detail was missed. From the repetitive walls that provide shade to the interior rooms,
to the ‘rain channels (gutters) running down the roof from the top of the ridge to the edge of those exaggerated eves.
Many of the roofs are made from stretched canvas.
A fun fact that I learned…he was so upset with the power lines that had ‘ruined’ his perfect view of the desert beyond his front door, that he changed the pitch of the roofline to hide them from sight.
Another major detail – when you stand in this breezeway, there is actually a natural breeze that flows through taking advantage of the natural convected air blowing up from the valley below.
He even planned for and incorporated the shadows – a deliberate design feature.
This shadow was created by dentils on the roofline and a keyhole feature leading through a doorway.
I took so many photos that I can’t possibly include them in this post. I’ll be sharing some interior spaces of this incredible building next time. Join me won’t you?