Posted by: lornasass | February 21, 2010

TALIESIN WEST

I know this sounds like sour grapes, but I wouldn’t want to live in a house built by Frank Lloyd Wright:  the chairs are too uncomfortable.

But that’s not the point.

It’s always fascinating to see a house designed by Wright because of the way his buildings interact with the surroundings.

To my mind, Falling Water outside of Pittsburgh has the most magnificent setting.  Taliesen West, in the arid desert environment of Scottsdale Arizona, feels extremely hard-edged and austere despite the bright orange-painted beams and the Miami-blue pool in front.  It actually feels chilly at Taliesin, even in the glaring sun.

Alas, they wouldn’t allow photographs of the interior (and the uncomfortable chairs), but here are some impressions from the outside looking in.

If geometry were a building, this would be it.



Responses

  1. Wright chose style and appearance over comfort. When I lived in Marin County, across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco, I loved Wright’s Civic Center in San Rafael. Its blue domes reflected the rounded contours of its hillside setting, and its spike seemed like a quirky poke at the establishment the building represents.
    Then I went inside, first to use the library, then as a volunteer for consumer protection, finally as a juror.
    This building was designed to be admired, not enjoyed or even efficiently used by human beings.
    One of its features is its indoor garden, with skylights, in which trees grow. However, to accommodate this, there is a long gallery overlooking the plants, meaning that if you want to go to an office facing the one you are leaving, you have to walk all the way around the gallery. I like the idea of adding exercise, but if you are in a hurry, it is infuriating.
    Worst of all was my experience as a juror. You are so right about uncomfortable chairs! Not only did my back ache, but the courtrooms are windowless, and the air circulation poor. It gets horrendously stuffy, and the only reason I didn’t doze was due to tipping off the unergonomic chair. The rooms for waiting and deliberating were equally claustrophobic. I’m sure there were many cases of rushing to judgement just to escape this horrendous experience.
    Wright also put tiny, inhospitable kitchens in his houses. But he did have an artist’s eye, and created works of cruel beauty.

    • Really enjoyed and appreciate your detailed description of your personal experience of being inside and outside a Wright building. I adore your expression “cruel beauty.” The fact that he left one wall of Taliesen open for many years, expecting his wife to clean up after the birds that flew in and out of the living room, shows the same kind of single mindedness that puts artistic purpose in front of human comfort. The Guggenheim Museum in NYC is always fun to look at from a distance, but dizzying and hard on the back for art viewers. And on and on…

  2. Really enjoyed seeing your pictures and reading your comments . Would love to visit myself. Shame they wouldn’t let you take pictures of interior.


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