One of the most iconic architects in history, Frank Lloyd Wright changed the way we build and live. Wright dedicated his life to creating spaces that celebrate American culture from its landscape to its people to its democratic ideals. Utilizing every aspect of a space to communicate cultural values – from the furniture to the surrounding terrain, Wright created total environments that tied every element, no matter how minuscule, together.
Located in Scottsdale, Arizona, Taliesin West was Wright’s winter home. Set atop several hundred acres of land, Taliesin West embodied a desert utopia where the architecture constructed of “desert masonry” of local rock and desert sand becomes part of the landscape. Today, Taliesin West is home to the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, which continues to teach the values of Wright’s community or apprentices, Taliesin Fellowship.
We took a moment to chat with Jeff Goodman, Vice President of Communication & Partnerships at the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation to learn about what inspires him about this space.
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Q: What inspired the 3D capture of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West?
The only way to truly understand Frank Lloyd Wright’s work is to experience it. For example, until you sit in his furniture, you won’t realize that Wright perfectly frames the view of the landscape in the distance, creating a deeper connection between you and nature. Unfortunately, not everyone will get the opportunity to visit Taliesin West in person, so having a virtual experience is the next best option. So, when we had the opportunity to partner with Leica Geosystems and Multivista to scan the site, and then with Matterport to make the scans available to “experience,” we jumped at it. While we know there is no replacement for visiting the site in person (feeling the cool breeze hit your body in the breezeway, the smell of the citrus blossoms in February), this Matterport virtual tour is the next best thing.
Q: What are the “must-sees” you want visitors to explore and why.
There was a lot of care taken in the scanning of Taliesin West. When you visit in person, you feel a sense of “compression and release” as Wright squeezes you into a room through a tight, dark space, and then greets you with a blast of color and light when the room reveals itself. When you enter the Garden Room (Wright’s living room), the cameras were placed close to the ceiling to give you that slight discomfort you experience when walking in person. I encourage virtual visitors to not only jump around from room to room, but to move through the spaces as you would if you were there, to get the sense of how Wright designs spaces to meet the needs of the people who use them. There are also spaces that visitors aren’t normally able to visit, like the Drafting Studio, Dining Room, and Kitchen. With the virtual tour, you are welcome to spend as much time as you’d like! Also, don’t miss our fire breathing dragon!
Q: What’s the one thing you want visitors to take away after enjoying Taliesin West?
Frank Lloyd Wright not only shows us a better way to build, he shows us a better way to live. He understood, even before science proved it, that a deep engagement with nature and beauty makes us healthier and happier people. When you visit Taliesin West, you learn first hand that you can be inside and still be connected to the landscape around you. He provides vast views of the natural environment, and carries nature into the buildings by using materials found on the site. So, even if you go home and turn a favorite chair around so it faces the window rather than the room, you can bring an idea from Taliesin West home that will make your life better, and have a lasting impact on your physical and emotional health.
As the head of marketing for the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, I love it when people take photos and post them on social media to share their experience and encourage others to visit. But, I also want people to have the opportunity to see Taliesin West through their own eyes, and not simply through their phones. Having the virtual tour available to them at FrankLloydWright.org/3DLab makes it so they know they can revisit any of these spaces from home, and can enjoy simply being at Taliesin West.
Q: Taliesin West is currently closed due to the Coronavirus outbreak. How are you coping with the uncertainty? How can readers support the arts and organizations like the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation during these unprecedented times?
This is an incredibly difficult time for arts & culture organizations across the country and around the world, forced to close to help stop the transmission of the coronavirus and flatten the curve. While closing Taliesin West in mid-March was the right decision to make for the health and safety of our visitors and staff, it hurt us deeply. We get the majority of our visitors during February, March, and April, peak tourist season in Arizona, and the revenue generated from that period sustains us for the rest of the year.
It is estimated that a third of the organizations that closed during the crisis will never reopen. We will not allow that to happen to Taliesin West. So, now we are relying on the generosity of our supporters to help us through the crisis so we can continue to welcome visitors to experience Wright’s genius for generations to come. We are asking for people to invest in a membership now, so they can plan their visits later, or to give whatever they can during this time when so many are in need. Please visit our website at FrankLloydWright.org to learn how you can support our work, to plan a future visit, or become a member today.
For more information about Taliesin West and the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, please visit https://franklloydwright.org/.