Taliesin West

“Human houses should not be like boxes, blazing in the sun, nor should we outrage the Machine by trying to make dwelling places too complementary to Machinery. Any building for humane purposes should be an elemental, sympathetic feature of the ground, complementary to its nature-environment, belonging by kinship to the terrain. ” – Frank Lloyd Wright Brilliant, inspirational, influential, innovative; these are a just a few adjectives that illustrate a very significant man with many traits.

A pioneer in his field of work and study, Frank Lloyd Wright has a plethora of architectural masterpieces spread out throughout the world. Wright was born In Richland Center, Wisconsin on June 8, 1867. His father gave him the love for music, but it was his mother who encouraged him to become an architect. Wright attended Madison High School, and it was then and there where he first began to realize his aspirations of being an architect. After dropping out of high school, and two semesters of studying civil engineering at the University of Wisconsin, Wright moved to Chicago in 1887.Wright found work at the architectural firm of Joseph Lyman Silsbee, however Wrights ambition took him to the architectural firm of Alder and Sullivan. Louis Sullivan was an inspirational figure in Wrights career and eventually led him to be the architect is he known as today. Wright adapted Sullivan’s slogan “form follows function” and changed it into the phrase “form and function are one.

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” It was right then when Wright introduced the word ‘organic’ into his philosophy of architecture. A term that was coined by Frank Lloyd Wright himself, Organic architecture is the harmonization between human habitation and the natural environment.It strives to entail a value for natural materials, blending in with the environment and surroundings, with a natural expression of the function of the building.

Organic architecture, as Frank Lloyd Wright defined it, means “not just looking at nature but looking into it. ” This means an architect must pay attention to everything around him, analyzing and understanding every aspect of the surroundings. Organic architecture is much like vernacular architecture and critical regionalism. The building or structure would look completely out of place if it were to be set anywhere else.It has to do with the place it is as well as the culture around it. Wright has a number of projects that exemplify his organic approach, but none illustrate it as well as his very own Taliesin West.

Taliesin West is built out of the stone and sand of the earth that had been gathered and found from the surrounding area by Wright himself and his students. He used this “rammed earth” much like Rick Joy had done in his studio in Tucson, to make the building appear as if it had shot up out of the desert dirt and grown to appear the way it appears merely by time and age, giving the building a sense of belonging within its context.The domain of the building is as if it is never ending, with nothing but dirt, rock, and mountains in the distance surrounding the campus. Taliesin west resembles Wrights other organic work, in specific Falling Water. Both buildings have few curves, and both are focused on solids and cavities. The reality of both structures is not the buildings themselves but the spaces within the buildings.

Taliesin west is a brilliant example of organic architecture if not his best because of its natural qualities that bleed out of the desert sand like a vine oozing out of a wall.Wrights architectural vision was to create a campus that was in total harmony with the surrounding nature. Native rocks were hauled from near by with a natural color that emulates the desert tint. Red wooden rafters as appose to the traditional style roof that binds together a translucent canvas that embellishes the golden sun upon the interior of the building.

Everything about the structure is in sync with the surroundings. Taliesin West is what Ken Frampton would call Critical regional architecture. A place much like Moore Lyndon Whitaker’s Sea Ranch or Alvar Aalto’s Finish Pavilion where it can only be located where it is.A tour through Taliesin West would start at his office.

But right before you enter, your attention is interrupted by the vibrant, yet complex Asian sculpture that stood in front of the entryway. The idea of him incorporating Asian art within his structure did not surprise me however. Ever since his visit to the Columbian exhibition in Chicago, Wright was closely influenced by Asian architecture and art, and had symbolized his appreciation for the arts by incorporating them throughout his buildings. The sculpture that lies by the front entrance of Taliesin West is one of many sculptures that’s cattered around the building, and it symbolizes a transition into the following area. The following area is the Office and Wrights part time design studio.

The building is a light and spacious room, with exposed wooden beams sustaining a translucent canvas roof and slightly slanted walls that give the illusion that the ground is at a slant. A low drafting table stood in the middle of the room with chairs surrounding it facing the adjacent walls. It is a studio and a space where Wright showed his clients his work and ideas. The significance of this specific building is apparent from the moment you enter its domain.The door, witch is not shaped like a door you will find in an average office building or home, is designed to be deliberately dark, narrow, and low, almost in the shape of a coffin.

This Japanese technique is a trademark of Wrights style and is called “compression and release. ” It forces the visitor to bow and conveys a feeling of an embrace before the sudden contrast of release into a room with a suddenly raised ceiling filled with natural light. These short and narrow entrances also encourage visitors to not lurk and block entryways.The open space is designed methodically so there is a space for his clients to sit down (on chairs he designed himself), and an area where Mr.

Wright can display his drawings. The walls of the building where built of the same indigenous rocks that are spread out throughout the entire site, a texture that appears rough and grimy. These rocks are the color they are not from artificial paint but from age. The harmonies of these innate colors are used to achieve coherence. John Meunier, architect and professor used the natural brick color to achieve color harmony in his own house, a technique influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright.

Wright uses natural surfaces in his usonian houses to embody “Truth to materials. ” Frank Lloyd Wright doesn’t place things into his projects because he likes it or he thinks it looks good, everything he does has value and function. Throughout the entire campus there are openings draped with canvas. The canvas admits a soft diffused light, taking away the shadow, and therefore making it easier to draw. In the corner of the office stands a fireplace. The fireplaces are in just about every room, and considering the geographic location of the campus, it may seem a little odd that a fireplace was one of the consistent features to each room.

However, Wright used the fireplaces not as heating devices but rather a symbolic gesture to symbolize family, and comfort. Wright used the symbolic fireplace in the Robbie house as well, one of his most illustrious houses. The next building is a design studio trapped in on both sides with another fireplace on one end and a vault to store his paintings on the other end. The studio overlooks the sunken garden and an invigorating pool of water that reflects the glistening sun.

The pool was not used for amusement, however it was placed right next to studio and kitchen in case of a fire so one could run out 15 yards and soak themselves free of flames. Wright felt comforted by the sounds and sight of water and chose a triangular shaped reflecting pool to fulfill his wife’s desires. The site is blemished with other water features giving it a sense of order, including a circular fountain in the courtyard and a metal dish-fountain at the entrance.

At night, the pool is illuminated giving the site a contrast of what it looks like during the day. Frank Lloyd Wright was an entertainer.The living room, a manipulative, airy space, with low ceilings, built in chairs that he designed and a grand piano was a room meant to entertain. Many guests, often famous, came to visit his legendary “Taliesin Evenings. ” Again, almost everything Wright incorporates into his buildings has a purpose. That fact is no different in the living room. The ceilings low to force the guests to sit down and the chairs built in to compel the guests to look at the hillside and sky that lies right outside the building.

The chairs in witch he designed himself where deliberately built uncomfortably so the user doesn’t sit there too long.There is also an intentional lack of wall space for artwork because Wrights architecture was the artwork. There are numerous windows to illuminate the open space with natural light during the day, and because Wright hated to look at electricity, he subtly placed light bulbs under the roof rafters to light up the living room at night. The technology of the room is quite significant with its very own indoor gutter system that streams water through the beams, and also has an air conditioning system that blows refreshing cold air up from the ground. The texture of the interior walls, much like the office, is a rough, jagged texture.The floor is enclosed in carpet to give a comforting feeling to the space, an ideal vibe you want in a room meant for entertainment. Wright felt the view was a vital part to the overall domain of the campus.

Wright felt so strongly about this that when the city implanted telephone wires across the horizon he went directly to president Harry S. Truman, demanding that they be buried under the ground. Although his efforts were eventually futile, it clearly demonstrated his passion and desire to make the structure exactly how he envisioned it.

The Dining room is a small, enclosed area, with little light and almost a dark feel to it.Inside lies another very large fireplace engraved at the end of the room and even a barbeque to grill on. This room has the most Asian art dispersed throughout it, an art form that Wright was very fond of. The most interesting thing about the room however is the window with a cut out circle just for the side of a vase. Wright loved the way the light reflected off the vase right where it was, so when the glass was installed he had the installers build the glass around the vase, another example of his controlling personality when it came to design.

As you walk down past a garden you come across Mr. And Mrs. Wrights bedrooms, witch are overlooking a private garden with excellent valley views. Both rooms are small and minimal, containing the same masonry walls and exposed wooden beams that are prevalent throughout the campus.

Wrights wife, Olgivanna, had a separate room. Olgivanna’s room featured bi-fold doors that could fold together to minimize the space taken up and let in natural light due to the lack of the lack of windows. It also featured a photo-mural of a 12-panel Japanese screen, once again showing his appreciation for Asian art.The space is organized in a way that when the bi-fold doors are open, it allows for a perfect lounging area to observe the beautiful green garden. The room next door is Frank Lloyd Wrights bedroom, and it offers a nicer interior then of his wife’s. Wright had built himself horizontal shelving that is in relationship with the rest of the room, creating a theme of horizontal lines throughout the bedroom. He inserted a fireplace to give the room a comforting family like feel to it, and also added separate areas for napping and sleeping. Wright loved to work with light and in his bedroom he worked with it in an innovative way.

In order to take away the reflection of the light being let it, Wright had the brilliant idea of tilting the glass window, this way the light would reflect off the glass and bounce right back out. This room had no lamps at all, once again showing his dislike for artificial light. After visiting Wrights sleeping space, the tour would lead you past another miniature pool, a fire-breathing dragon, and into a multi-purpose room named the Kiva theatre. The Kiva was a dimmed lit, rectangular room that had many uses. Its main purpose was to watch director’s cuts of movies through a projector shining on to the projector screen at the end of the room.The room however was also used for storing belongings and even sleeping for when the weather gets rough. Many famous people would come through and watch movies here: Liz Taylor, John Wayne to name a couple.

A large circular table with chairs around it sits directly in the middle of the room giving the room a purpose. Its obvious the table is not there for dining, it is there to establish human relationships. To bring people together and get them to sit around a table and face each other, forcing human interaction.

The room has no windows witch allows for very little natural light to seep through.The light is gathered from the light bulbs that are hidden under the ground and in the corners of the room, hidden from the common eye. The horizontal shelves that were in his bedroom are installed around the Kiva as well giving it the same horizontal line theme that is apparent in the bedroom.

One of the largest buildings throughout the campus is the Music Pavilion. A large, well lit open space, with a stage, auditorium style seating, and a high canvas ceiling was built for Wright’s daughter. The pavilion was built on a slope to limit the amount of materials made to accommodate for the slope of the seats.The Greek Theatre has the same technique used where the stadium is included into the landscape, making the mountains part of the domain.

This is also a Chinese technique called “borrowed landscape. ” The canvas ceilings and other absorptive soft surfaces don’t allow for the best reverberation time, especially for small ensemble chamber-music performances. However for large ensembles with brass or woodwinds, the acoustics are sufficient. The canvas does serve for a good purpose however, giving the room a natural golden tint that is let in through a controlled manner.

One thing that stood out to me about this specific theatre was the mural that was placed on the wall near the walkway. The mural, a colorful marriage of geometric shapes and bright colors looked like nothing else throughout the entire campus, however it reminded me of Wright’s influence and appreciation of Piet Mondrian’s work in the De Stijil era. To many people’s understandings, Frank Lloyd Wright was an innovative human being, a pioneering individual, and a man with a creative mind. He had an idea to build a theatre underground like a cave, and the way he decided to make his idea come to life, included lots of dynamite.

Although not the best idea, the Cabaret theatre was eventually produced. A dark, narrow, dim lit, cave like room, that slanted toward a hallow stage was used for entertainment and performances. Greatbuildings. com The amount of natural light that is let in is limited because of its placement underground; therefore artificial light is the main source.

Once again because of Wrights renowned dislike of artificial light and light bulbs, the lights are hidden within the ceiling rocks and the pathways that lead guests to their seats.The seats are all placed at a specific angle so that when Wright’s guests came to visit and watch the show, they could cross their legs and their head would be facing the stage effortlessly. The cabaret has a maximum capacity of about 50 people and the stage has room for an ensemble of at least six or a piano quartet if the piano is not a grand concert piano. There are no parallel walls, and no soft surfaces on the walls throughout the theatre, allowing for a long reverberation time. The acoustics are astonishingly good. The acoustics can be tuned by raising or lowering hinged panels in openings on one side of the theatre if one chooses to.As I stuck my head down and crouched out of the Cabaret Theatre, the last and final stop on my enlightening yet exhilarating tour, I at last realized how truly organic and natural the entire campus actually is. Every aspect of the campus involves a respect for the properties of the materials, and a respect for the harmonious relationship between the form and the function of the building.

Taliesin West integrates all of the different spaces into a harmonious whole. It is a perfect marriage between the desert and the structure.The walkways, platforms, bridges, and terraces not only intertwine the buildings to one another, but also tie the entire complex to the mountains and valleys surrounding it, lending it a sort of rhythm. Throughout the walkthrough of the campus there are a number of themes that are prevalent. The Asian sculptures that are placed at the edge of every section to exemplify transition to a new area, the compress and release style doors, the same indigenous rocks used as walls, the pools, Wrights reluctance to use artificial light, the fireplaces, the horizontal lines; all of these are themes that give Taliesin West a pervading sense of order.

It is the order that brings life to Taliesin West. Taliesin West is just one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s examples of organic architecture, however quite possibly the best example. It most certainly harmonizes human habitation with nature, it absolutely values the use of natural materials, it without a doubt blends in with the surrounding environment, and most importantly, in the words of Mr. Wright himself “belongs by kinship to the terrain. ” Taliesin West Frank Lloyd Wright ALA 100 Intro to Environmental Design



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