After 88 Years, The School of Architecture at Taliesin West is Set to Close

Angelica OlivasFebruary 7, 2020
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The School of Architecture at Taliesin (SoAT) recently announced that this semester will be its last, and it will be closing by the end of June. The school and the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, which are two separate entities, were not able to reach an agreement to keep the school open, according to a press release published by SoAT.

SoAT has been operating for 88 years. It began as a fellowship program where Frank Lloyd Wright taught architecture to apprentices. He wanted students to “learn by doing,” according to the school’s website.

“The closure of the school is very emotional for our students, our faculty and staff and all of us who worked so hard for this one-of-a-kind institution and its important role in Frank Lloyd Wright’s legacy,” Dan Schweiker, Chairperson of the Board of Governors for the School of Architecture at Taliesin, said in the press release. “We did everything possible to fight for its survival but due to other forces it was not meant to be.”

In a separate press release, the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation stated that SoAT board members claimed that the school “did not have a sustainable business model that would allow it to maintain its operation as an accredited program.”

In an update on the foundation’s website, the foundation’s president and CEO, Start Graff, said that the school’s accrediting body insisted that the school should “no longer be dependent on the foundation for support.”

The update also said that the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation and the SoAT had reached an agreement that would have allowed current students to complete their accredited degrees at the school and at their campuses, but this was not approved by the SoAT Board. The agreement included plans for the two entities to work together to create new educational programs that wouldn’t require accreditation, allowing them to merge. There are currently about 30 students enrolled at the school, and it is trying to come to an agreement for the students to finish their degrees at Arizona State University’s Herberger Institute for Design.

Taliesin and Taliesin West will continue their events and educational programs such as K-12 education, community outreach and engagement, and family activities. They are expecting to announce new programs and partnerships this year.

“The foundation will return to extending Wright’s legacy of educating architects, keeping the life and the spirit of what he created front and center at both Taliesin and Taliesin West,” Graff said. “That legacy includes continuing the training of architects, preservation specialists, design professionals, and the interested public – all in the same spaces where he created the world’s most celebrated architecture.”

Photo by Andrew Pielage