More than 40 years after his death, Frank Lloyd Wright remains a true giant in the world of architecture. Evidence of his genius abounds, and nowhere more so than at the winter home, studio and architectural campus he created at the foot of the McDowell Mountains: Taliesin West. Experience Wright's genius firsthand on the Night Lights on the Desert Tour, Friday evenings at 6:30, 7 and 7:30 at Taliesin West. The intimate two-hour twilight tour reveals a campus intimately wed to its surroundings via structures built from ambient desert rocks and designed to echo the geometric forms of the mountains that serve as their backdrop.
The tour begins with a stop in Wright's office and winds through dramatic terraces, gardens and walkways on the way to stops at the Music Pavilion, Cabaret Cinema, Seminar Theater and remarkable Garden Room. Here, visitors are invited to sit in Wright-designed furniture and revel in the unmistakable power of a stone-walled room measuring 34 feet by 56 feet and fitted with expansive windows that provide pristine views of the garden and surrounding desert landscape.
"Mr. Wright wanted his architecture to celebrate the American ideals of freedom and democracy," says our tour guide Robert before concluding our visit with a simple question. "After taking this tour, do you believe he succeeded?"
In a way that must be seen to be believed.
Taliesin West is located at the intersection of Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard and Cactus Road in north Scottsdale. For tour information, call 480-860-2700 or visit www.franklloydwright.org. - Craig Wallach
A cool way to beat the heat
Feeling hot-headed? Head downtown for some scoop therapy. Billed as the "world's first ice cream and yogurt lounge," AJ's Scoops dishes up sweets, then sweetens the deal by inviting customers to sink into a booth for a game of chess, belly up to the bar for a round of simulated blackjack, or get lost in the music and magazines. With shakes, sundaes, floats and freezes on the menu, tastes range from trendy (wild prickly pear sorbet) to traditional (strawberry shortcake) to well-traveled (the Hawaiian Hurricane "nonfat yogurt experience" swirls in coconut, pineapple and bananas). Located at 144 East Washington, Scoops is open daily from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Call 602-262-8100. - Jill Koch
Audobon movie soars in Scottsdale
A soar subject, indeed. On Thursday, July 10, Audubon Arizona presents the Arizona première of Winged Migrationat Harkins Camelview Theatre, 7001 East Highland in Scottsdale. Filmed over a four-year span, the Oscar-nominated documentary follows bird migrations through 40 countries on seven continents: great bustards in Galicia, Spain; secretary birds in Kenya; bar-headed geese over Nepal; sandhill cranes in Nebraska. A silent auction at 5:30 p.m. precedes the 7 p.m. screening. Tickets, $25, include a sandwich, drink and popcorn; proceeds support Audubon Arizona's educational and conservation programs. Call 602-468-6470 for more information, and view the film's trailer at www.sonyclassics.com. - Jill Koch
Court TV invites youth to solve crimes
Getting a clue used to be as simple as breaking out a board game. These days, it involves entering a high-tech forensics lab equipped with interactive kiosks (and tires). Visiting the Valley Tuesday, July 15, and Wednesday, July 16, Court TV's Mobile Investigation Unit enables amateur sleuths to gather clues and solve a mystery with cutting-edge techniques and technology. Frank Lee Forensics, Court TV's "Forensics Fanatic," demonstrates experiments for families to try at home, and kids can create their own forensic files with photos and digital fingerprints. The Unit rolls into Desert Sky Mall, 7611 West Thomas, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. both days. - Jill Koch