Save the School of Architecture at Taliesin from Closing

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The legacy that Frank Lloyd Wright established with his Fellowship, the evolution of which is the School of Architecture at Taliesin, represents an irreplaceable presence in the American cultural landscape. The campuses at Taliesin and Taliesin West were created to support the Fellowship through an educational model in which architecture, nature and life are inextricably interwoven. The Fellows of Taliesin built the roofs over their own heads and grew the food they ate, embodying the ideals of operating collectively, locally, and intelligently to support one another.

As the student body of the School of Architecture at Taliesin we continue this tradition today; building our shelters in a truly unique thesis program while living intimately with nature and architectural experimentation in the manner that Wright envisioned. Yet we face, for the second time in recent memory, the threat of the school’s closure. The failure of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation and the School of Architecture at Taliesin to reach an agreement regarding the Memorandum of Understanding which would allow the school to remain open for the full duration of its accreditation and beyond, is a stunning failure to Wright’s legacy and the intended missions of these organizations. This decision harms not only the school’s current students, but also its Fellows, alumni, supporters, and the practice of architecture and culture at large. 

As the school is one of Wright’s greatest achievements and his continued living contribution to the field, it is undeniable that its closure is not in the best interest of maintaining his legacy. While the Foundation has proposed alternative educational programming such as K-12 classes, these options are neither mutually exclusive with, nor adequate substitutes for, an accredited Master of Architecture program. This alternative is in direct contradiction to Frank Lloyd Wright’s will, in which he specifically outlines that the mission of Taliesin is “the education and teaching of the art of architecture and collateral crafts” in "the equivalent of a college in the preparation of American architects..." 

A building is merely a shell if void of those who keep its legacy alive. The intention behind these living cultural landmarks was always for them to be inhabited spaces in which new architectural work is actively being created. Carved into the walls of the music pavilion at Taliesin West is a quote from Lao Tzu: “the reality of the building does not consist in roof and walls but in the space within to be lived in.”  Aside from the devastating effect this decision is having on the current student body - we are losing our home, our community and a truly unique education - we feel a deep calling to speak on behalf of the many people who have built this tradition over past generations and those who will lose the opportunity to experience it in the future. We call upon the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation and the School of Architecture at Taliesin to reassume the mantle of maintaining Frank Lloyd Wright’s legacy, and reopen good faith negotiations to find a solution which unites us in the continuation of this great institution. 

#dothewrightthing