We do the architectural tour of Phoenix today. Our day starts at Taliesin West, Frank Lloyd Wright’s home and “architectural laboratory”. We drive up the road to the site, noticing how the buildings and grounds blend in with the surroundings. The complex sits part way up the slope towards the McDowell Mountains.
Our tour is led by Jim, a very knowledgeable ex history professor who volunteers to give folks like us an insight into Frank Lloyd Wright. As we sit in the famous living room, it is just like the photographs that we have seen in magazines. The chairs and fabrics are unchanged. The room is long and would have accommodated many people in small groups discussing world topics.
Jim talks about “Mr. Wright” and his idea of organic, which in the 1920’s would have been an outrageous concept. Organic to Wright meant to work with the environment, to blend into the natural surroundings. Although he accomplished this, we notice that he also used a grid and square corners and shapes. His windows framed views of the desert and mountains. Water fountains graced the gardens with their tinkling sounds and freshness.
Next stop, Cosanti. The home and handcrafted bell workshop of Paolo Soleri. Mr. Soleri was an Architect, craftsman and philosopher who founded Arcosanti in 1970. We will be visiting Arcosanti tomorrow as it is located 65 miles north of Phoenix.
We notice immediately that Soleri’s concept of organic is much different than Wright’s. Soleri’s mimics nature using forms that are rounded, domed, flowing. More towards the modern idea of what organic might be.
After our stop at Cosanti, we are both looking forward to visiting Arcosanti to see what it is all about and get a hint of Soleri’s vision.
Then it is off to visit the Arizona Biltmore Hotel, designed by Wright. The buildings and grounds are immaculate and highlight Wright’s designs in the furniture, carpets, gardens, lighting and wall features. We wander the grounds and enjoy the ambiance.
We also make a quick stop at the Gammage Memorial Auditorium, said to be Frank Lloyd Wright’s last public commission. To me it looks like a huge wedding cake with sculpted icing sides.
Our travels to these architectural spots has us navigating throughout Phoenix, Tempe and Scottsdale. We are surprised at how easy it is. Although the map looks quite intimidating, the distances are traversed quickly and smoothly.
Tomorrow we head out of Phoenix, to Arcosanti and north to Sedona. We will combine man made and natural architecture.