Restoration efforts underway for Taliesin West
February 1, 2014 4:46PM
FILE - In this March 20, 2001 file photo, Frank Lloyd Wright's winter home and studio, also known as Taliesin West, is shown in Scottsdale, Ariz., on March 20, 2001. The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation has hired experts to track damage and needed improvements for Taliesin West in Scottsdale. Foundation officials say leaky roofs, cracking paint and an outdated system of water wells are among the problems. The foundation plans to solicit public donations to help fund the work. (AP Photo/Jason Wise)
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — The Arizona home where architect Frank Lloyd Wright spent his winters is about to undergo the first major restoration effort in its 77-year history.
The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation has hired experts to track damage and needed improvements for Taliesin West in Scottsdale.
Foundation officials say leaky roofs, cracking paint and an outdated system of water wells are among the problems.
But the look and feel of the structure won’t change, the foundation said.
“It’s not rebuilding or replicating,” said Sean Malone, Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation president. “It’s not going to feel like a different place. I can say that it’s going to feel even more vibrant and more like a living place.”
The organization has hired Chicago-based Harboe Architects to oversee the work. The firm, which competed against 40 others for the job, will begin making visits to the site in a few weeks. Harboe has already helped restore a dozen Wright-designed structures. Besides prioritizing the needs and the cost involved, Harboe is developing a preservation philosophy to guide the project.
Thousands of photographs, letters, drawings and notes that Wright left behind will be used to determine the historical context and chronology of the structures.
The overhaul of the 500-acre compound, which draws more than 100,000 visitors annually, is expected to take a year.
Wright built the property in 1937 in the foothills of the McDowell Mountains. He referred to it as a “laboratory,” where apprentices from all over the world came to study with him. Twenty years passed before Taliesin West was wired for electricity, running on generators until then. The complex of buildings is currently home of the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture.
A National Historic Landmark, Taliesin West must abide by specific rules when it comes to appearance and materials used in construction. Its six buildings were erected without modern tools or technology. Building materials included desert stone and sand and most of the buildings sit at angles and are connected by pools or terraces.
The compound has undergone some changes since Wright’s 1959 death, including the installation of solar panels and other energy efficient updates in 2012.
The foundation plans to solicit public donations to help fund the work. Last year, it raised more than $1 million.
“Ultimately, it’s about people caring about and being energized by the work we’re doing,” Malone said.