Architecture and Design

Arcadia Frank Lloyd Wright House Pledged to School of Architecture at Taliesin — Here's What We Know So Far

The Frank Lloyd Wright-designed David and Gladys Wright House has been pledged for future donation to the School of Architecture at Taliesin, according to an announcement issued on June 8 by Aaron Betsky and Zach Rawling.

Betsky is dean of the School of Architecture at Taliesin, and Rawling is president of the David and Gladys Wright Foundation. Rawling's family purchased the home in 2012 as the David Wright House LLC, and originally planned to transform the site into a house museum.

But some residents in the Arcadia neighborhood, where Wright built the 2,500-square-foot home for his son and daughter-in-law in 1952, voiced concerns about that plan. Proposed elements included a cafe, bookstore, Wright archive, amphitheater, and underground education center. So they worried it would mean excessive noise and traffic in the area.

The donation is contingent on raising $7 million by the end of 2020 for an endowment to help fund restoration and operations. "The house still needs full structural restoration," Rawling says. With endowments, only interest on the core amount gets used, so the $7 million principal itself won't get spent.

Over the summer, the School of Architecture will create a new nonprofit organization responsible for its Wright House programs, Rawling says. That’s being handled through the Arizona Community Foundation, which works with donors and nonprofit organizations to facilitate philanthropy benefiting Arizona communities.

Rawling expects the nonprofit to launch a formal capital campaign this fall. Ultimately, the goal will be growing the endowment to $15 million, to help fund future operations and programming at the 6-acre site.

But School of Architecture programming is set to begin before those funds are in place.

Landscape architect Chris Winters and architect Eddie Jones will be teaching a design studio for students this fall about restoring and reimagining the landscape and historic citrus groves. And up to four faculty and/or students will be living on the property.

Rawling says he expects to stay heavily involved as the Wright House shifts to a School of Architecture site, perhaps by serving on the nonprofit's board of directors.

Currently, he's working on getting a historic preservation designation for the home through the City of Phoenix. "Our application was approved by the historic preservation subcommittee, and we're working on moving that forward," he says.

But he's leaving the issue of a possible landmark designation to the School of Architecture. "The school will decide when to advance the landmark application," Rawling says.

The School of Architecture currently has two Wright-designed campuses: Taliesin in Spring Green, Wisconsin, and Taliesin West in Scottsdale. The David and Gladys Wright House will serve as an additional site for School of Architecture programs.

The timing for the June 8 announcement coincided with the 150-year anniversary of Frank Lloyd Wright’s birth. Wright, who lived from 1867 to 1959, is renowned for his organic architecture. Wright created Taliesin West in 1937.

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Lynn Trimble is an award-winning freelance writer and photographer specializing in arts and culture, including visual and performing arts
Contact: Lynn Trimble