Taliesin West Basics:
Address: The entrance to Taliesin West is located at the intersection of Cactus Road and Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard (the equivalent of 114th Street) in northeast Scottsdale. Directions. The facility is located east of the 101. Google Map
Although Frank Lloyd Wright was appalled at the sight of power and phone poles affecting his view of the desert valley, the facility does have a phone: 480-860-2700.
You can visit the bookstore and see the complex at a distance but you must take a tour to visit Taliesin West. Tours range from one hour overviews to a three-hour behind the scenes tour. We opted for the 1.5 hour tour as we wanted to visit some buildings and offices and maximize our time with a knowledgeable guide. This tour worked out perfectly for us. Depending on the season, specialty tours are offered including holiday lights tours. Be sure and read the Taliesin West tour page well before choosing your tour.
Tour prices range from $18.00 for the one hour tour to $35 for the behind the scenes tour. For example, we selected the 1.5 hour Summer Insights tour which was priced: $20.00 /person ($18 seniors/students/military; and $12.00 children 4-12). (2007 Prices
A Little Taliesin West History:
Taliesin West was architect Frank Lloyd Wright's winter home and school in the desert from 1937 until his death in 1959 at the age of 91. He alternated living at Taliesin East in Spring Green, Wisconsin and Taliesin West, just as many "snowbirds" of today divide their time between two states.
What is the Frank Lloyd Wright Style of Architecture:
When you see Taliesin West, you will understand Frank Lloyd Wright's style of organic architecture. The walls are made of cement embedded with desert stone found on the property. The buildings are horizontally low, and are tucked into the brow of the McDowell Mountains. In fact, Taliesin, means brow of the mountain in Welsh. It is this use of natural materials and natural light while conserving resources in very innovative ways which is the Wright trademark.
What You Will See on the Tour:
Depending on the tour that you select, you may see any of the following:
- Wright buildings and grounds
- The Frank Lloyd Wright Garden Room with Wright furniture
- The Gumps Japanese pieces used as architectural transition markers
- Sculpture Garden
- Student dining room
- Wright private quarters
- The vault
- Music pavilion
- Cabaret theater
Here are photos from our summer tour of Taliesin West.
Touring Taliesin - Recommendations and Review:
When I told my friend I was headed for Taliesin West, she told me that she had been there in the '70's. She recalled seeing one building and the student desert shelters. So, as we drove out Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard toward the desert, I wasn't expecting much.
As soon as we entered the property through the Wright inspired gates and headed up toward the very low desert buildings, almost hidden within the curves of the mountain, I knew my experience was to be different.
It was over 110 degrees out and yet there were families, young people and seniors gathered in small groups touring the grounds. We went down the stairs into the partially underground bookstore and picked up our tickets for the 1.5 hour tour.
As a word of warning, let me tell you our first and only mistake about the trip. We didn't read far enough to know that the tour was half outside and half inside so we were unprepared with hats and water. (You will read this and be better prepared). Fortunately for us Taliesin West lends out umbrellas for shade and offered us bottled water half way through the tour.
I had no trouble with the heat, however, because the tour was so fascinating. The guide was very knowledgeable and knew how to engage us in the unfolding story of Frank Lloyd Wright and Taliesin West. He told us just enough so that we felt better educated and developed an understanding of organic architecture. We weren't overwhelmed with details and statistics. As soon as we were feeling the desert heat, we were moved into yet another fascinating building. We saw Wright's personal quarters as well as the current school of architecture facilities, and ended the tour with the amazing Music Pavillion and Cabaret Theatre.
I highly recommend that you include Taliesin West in your list of things to do while in Scottsdale or the Phoenix valley. Once you visit Taliesin West, you will then be motivated to visit Taliesin East in Wisconsin. If you have toured once before, consider selecting a different tour and tour again. I toured in the summer and now think it would be fun to take, perhaps, a night tour, or a Christmas lights tour. Young and old will enjoy the tour and learn from it. I suggest the tour for children over age 7 and would certainly take a teen-ager that showed even a hint of being interested in architecture or building.
For more information, and current tours, visit the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation website.