Taliesin Closure Reversed

John Hill
6. March 2020
Taliesin West, Scottsdale, Arizona (Photo: Steven C. Price/Wikimedia Commons)

The School of Architecture at Taliesin has reversed its January decision to close, after it was then unable to reach an agreement with the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, with hopes of remaining open.

January's announcement that the school Frank Lloyd Wright started in 1932 would be closing later this year was met with shock but also support, including a petition with nearly 10,000 signatures to save the school. Yesterday the school's board reversed its decision after, per Arizona Central, the "school secured other funding sources." Still, the board's decision does not guarantee that the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, which owns the two Taliesin properties the school uses, will agree.

Aaron Betsky, President of SOAT since 2015, told AZ Central, "We want to emphasize to the Foundation that we very much would like them to reconsider negotiating a new (agreement) with us so that we can find a way to continue a relationship with them." Yet, as Foundation spokesperson Jeff Goodman told the paper, "The Foundation has no proposal from the School other than what it reads in the media. We therefore have nothing to respond to."

So even though the SOAT board has secured funding to stay open — some of it would come by partnering with Chinese architect Qingyun Ma, who would send up to a dozen tuition-paying students from China to attend SOAT — the decision is dependent upon the Foundation, the landlord that terminated SOAT's lease as of July 31, 2020. 

But as The Architect's Newspaper points out, relations between the School and the Foundation have been strained for a while. Even though SOAT had to financially separate itself from the Foundation in 2017 in order to retain accreditation, the Foundation has asserted that "the School has always been a financial drag on the Foundation and that they were subsidizing its continued existence."

So yesterday's board decision is good news for fans of Wright and his 88-year-old educational experiment, but it's far from the final word on the matter.

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