From Taliesin to Arcosanti

John Hill
10. June 2020
Arcosanti (Photo: Carwil/Wikimedia Commons)

The School of Architecture at Taliesin, founded by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1932, is parting with the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation and moving to Cosanti and Arcosanti, the campuses started by Paolo Soleri in Arizona in the 1960s.

The news, reported by The Architects' Newspaper and AZ Central, comes six months after it was announced that SOAT would be closing, since it "was not able to reach an agreement with the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation to keep the school open." Years before, the School (then known as Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture, with campuses at Taliesin in Spring Green, Wisconsin, and Taliesin West in Scottsdale, Arizona) had to gain financial independence from the Foundation in order to maintain accreditation. That independence was shortlived, but there were glimmers of hope in early March, when SOAT reversed its decision to close after acquiring new funding sources. Two weeks later, though, the Foundation announced it was ending discussions with the school and letting its agreement with the school expire at the end of July.

Yesterday's reports are very good news for fans of Frank Lloyd Wright and the educational model he created during the Depression and that continued long after his death. These fans should also know the synergy that exists between Taliesin and Arcosanti, as Italian architect Paolo Soleri served in the fellowship at Taliesin West in the 1940s. Soleri moved back to Italy after his time with Wright, but then he and his wife returning, settled permanently in Arizona and founding the Cosanti Foundation in 1965. With the Cosanti base in Phoenix, Soleri and a slew of volunteers worked on building one of Soleri's "Arcologies" in the desert 65 miles north of Phoenix. Since then Arcosanti has been a laboratory for dense living in an unforgiving environment.

Cafe at Arcosanti (Photo: Commons)

The soon-to-be-renamed school, which is receiving $500,000 in coronavirus-stimulus funds, will hold remote classes in the summer but hopes to move its roughly 30 students into Cosanti and Arcosanti in the fall.

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