Taliesin West

Historic Building Fact Sheet

Taliesin West Prow Dusk

Taliesin West’s main complex as viewed from the reflecting pool. (Jan. 2016) Photo credit: Jake Case

Need to Know Info

Built1937
Address12621 North Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd, Scottsdale, Arizona/a>
Coordinates33°36′22.8″N 111°50′45.5″W
Date Added to NRHPFebruary 12, 1974
Date Added as National Historic LandmarkMay 20, 1982
Date Added as UNESCO World Heritage Site2019

Taliesin West was Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home and architecture school where he created works like the Guggenheim Museum. Residing here each winter season from 1937-1959 while he taught his apprentices while constantly reimagining his Sonoran Desert dwelling built to connect organically with the landscape.

The site remains headquarters of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation and one of the top cultural attractions in the Phoenix area. As a National Historic Landmark and UNESO World Heritage Site, the property is available for viewing by tour only, which can be booked through the Foundation’s website.

In-Depth Story

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West: An Architectural Desert Laboratory

The acclaimed American architect Frank Lloyd Wright utilized his Arizona retreat Taliesin West as a winter residence, studio, and architectural school from 1937 to 1959. Today the National Historic Landmark serves as headquarters for the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation and remains open for public tours in Scottsdale. The name pays homage to Wright’s original home and studio in Wisconsin, Taliesin.

Seeking a warm haven for Wright’s health, his fellowship began passing winters in Arizona in 1935 on doctor’s counsel. In 1937 Wright bought desert land outside Scottsdale for $3.50 an acre on the foothills of the McDowell Mountains. He envisioned an ideal seasonal home base for living, working and learning about architecture. Building infrastructure on the bare site required drilling a well over 100 feet to tap into groundwater. Initial accommodation consisted of camping in tents during construction of more permanent buildings.

Wright adamantly felt the architecture should connect with the surrounding desert scenery. The constructed walls utilize indigenous rocks set within wood slats filled by concrete, often referred to as “desert masonry.” The flat rock faces point outward while large boulders fill interior voids. Petroglyphs etched by the ancient Hohokam people dot some of the rocks incorporated into the buildings, including a symbol of hands Wright adapted into the Taliesin West icon.

taliesin west garden room

Interior view of Taliesin West’s “Garden Room”, part of Wright’s private living quarters. (2018) Photo credit: Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress

Natural sunlight enters through translucent ceilings in the drafting room, Wright’s office, and garden room. Wright continually modified his creation with onsite construction during winter visits. Over the years he enlarged assorted chambers and annexed extra wings like the theater, music hall and more. One innovative hexagonal theater provides near perfect acoustics.

Taliesin West remains headquarters for the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation today. Numerous revered Wright buildings were drafted on-site, like the Guggenheim Museum in New York. Although originally interred in Wisconsin, Wright’s remains were later controversially cremated and relocated to Taliesin West by request of his wife to be memorialized together. This decision disturbed Wright’s Wisconsin ties but honored his wife’s last wish. Taliesin West continues welcoming visitors as a National Historic Landmark and UNESCO World Heritage Site.

NRHP Reference #: 74000457

UNESO World Heritage Site Reference #: 1496-007