A Little Prairie in the Desert

February 27, 2014 § 3 Comments

On one of my visits to Taliesen West while I’ve been here in Scottsdale, I had the opportunity to see several of the shelters in the desert surrounding Taliesen.  When Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fellowship began spending the winters in the desert in the 1940’s, the apprentices (students) were required to live in  Shepherd’s tents their first year and to design a shelter (or renovate an existing one) as their permanent residence.  In the late 1980’s the school became accredited, and the requirement to build a shelter became optional.  Today, living in a shelter is still voluntary. Continuing the tradition, over half of the students usually elect to sleep in a shelter and  to make improvements on the structure they select.                                                                                                                                                                      fireplace

To my surprise, I found elements of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie houses in these contemporary constructions in the middle of the desert.  For example, in several shelters the fireplace was the central core of the house just as it is in the Dana-Thomas House.  

windowI found a stained glass window without the glass,

and a barrel vaulted ceiling without the ceiling.

barrel vaulted ceiling

Like the rest of Taliesen West, the shelter tour was a dramatic illustration of the strong connections between the old and the new in the on-going Frank Lloyd Wright story. The clever innovations of the young architectural students provided for me a look into the future while their subtle homage to Frank Lloyd Wright’s early works created a thread with the past.

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