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Famed American Architect's Desert Home Brings Crowds


This Sept. 24, 2017 photo shows the words "Taliesin West" carved into a rock wall with the desert landscape visible in the background in Scottsdale, Ariz. The complex served as the winter home of architect Frank Lloyd Wright in Scottsdale, Arizona. (AP Photo/Anita Snow)

Every year as southern Arizona cooled, architect Frank Lloyd Wright and his students would travel there to escape the cold of winter in Wisconsin.

Wright’s students built shelters at a place he called Taliesin West, northeast of the state capital, Phoenix. They stayed there during the winter term of his School of Architecture. The buildings were wide open to nature. They had no electricity, running water, doors or windows.

The shelters are still used as housing today.

From 1937 until 1959, when Wright died, Taliesin West was the winter home of America’s most famous architect. The original Taliesin was Wright’s home in southwestern Wisconsin, a central state.

Architect Frank Lloyd Wright, center, is surrounded by four apprentices who work and study under his direction at Taliesin, his estate at Spring Green, Wis., Aug. 17, 1938. The students are, from left, Eugene Masselink, Edgar Tafel, Jack Howe, and Bennie
Architect Frank Lloyd Wright, center, is surrounded by four apprentices who work and study under his direction at Taliesin, his estate at Spring Green, Wis., Aug. 17, 1938. The students are, from left, Eugene Masselink, Edgar Tafel, Jack Howe, and Bennie

Taliesin is the name of a sixth-century writer. It means “shining brow.”

The buildings of Taliesin West are made of redwood beams and large rocks. They were covered early on in almost-transparent canvas to let in light. The canvas was later replaced with plastic, which is stronger against the desert sun. Windows were large openings without glass.

The 198-hectare site in Scottsdale, near the McDowell Mountains, is still the winter home of the graduate school. Students can earn a Master of Architecture degree there. It is also the headquarters of The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, which governs many of the architect’s buildings.

More than 100,000 people visit Taliesin West each year. It has been named a National Historic Landmark. Wright Foundation officials say the number of visitors has increased sharply because this year marks the 150th anniversary of Wright’s birth. Visitors can see the room where Wright designed some of his most famous buildings, including the Guggenheim Museum in New York.

Frank Lloyd Wright 150th
Frank Lloyd Wright 150th

Wright lived to see more than 500 of his designs built. They include homes, offices and schools. Another very famous Wright work is Fallingwater, a private home built over a waterfall in a Pennsylvania forest. Wright also designed the 19-story Price Tower in Bartlesville, Oklahoma; Florida Southern College in Lakeland, Florida; and the Ennis House, a home in Los Angeles designed like a Mayan temple.

Frank Lloyd Wright 150th
Frank Lloyd Wright 150th

Experts say Taliesin West is among the best buildings Wright designed. At the home, visitors can see the same desert landscape that Wright and his students looked at from the room where they created. It is a view that Wright once called “a look over the rim of the world.”

I’m Caty Weaver.

Christopher Jones-Cruise adapted it for Learning English from Associated Press report. Caty Weaver was the editor.

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Words in This Story

architect -n. a person who designs buildings​

beam -n. a long and heavy piece of wood or metal that is used as a support in a building or ship​

transparent -adj. able to be seen throug​

canvas -n. a strong, rough cloth that is used to make bags, tents, sails, etc.​

landscape -n. an area of land that has a particular quality or appearance​

rim -n. the outer edge of a usually round object​

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