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The Wright Move
By Nora Burba Trulsson | Photo: Photos courtesy of David and Gladys Wright Foundation | October 6, 2017
Frank Lloyd Wright’s historic 1950 David and Gladys Wright House has been donated for use by The School of Architecture at Taliesin for educational and community programming.
In 2012, a house designed in 1950 by Frank Lloyd Wright for his son and daughter-in-law was in danger of being erased from its Arcadia site near the base of Camelback Mountain. This year, coinciding with Wright’s 150th birthday, the spiral-shaped house came full circle and was donated for use by The School of Architecture at Taliesin, a program founded by the master architect himself.
The five-year trajectory from near-demolition to educational laboratory for graduate architecture students was guided by Zach Rawling, a home builder and architecture aficionado who grew up not far from David and Gladys Wright’s 2,500-square-foot home, designed to float above what was once a 10-acre citrus grove. Rawling bought the property from developers who had envisioned replacing the groundbreaking piece of architecture with at least two large homes and began stabilizing and restoring the main house, the guest casita designed by Wright in 1954 and the grounds.
Wright was working on New York’s Guggenheim museum at the same time his son, an engineer and a concrete-block company representative, approached him with a request to design a three-bedroom, two-bath house on the Arcadia site. The architect experimented with the museum’s proposed ramp and spiral design on his son’s house, elevating the living quarters above the carport and courtyard to provide mountain views and shade below. The house remained in the family until 2008.
Rawling worked with Wright experts, craftspeople and designers to begin the restoration. He also founded the David & Gladys Wright House foundation to oversee the process.
On June 8—Wright’s birthday—Rawling handed over the keys to the house to the Scottsdale- and Wisconsin-based school with the purpose of having it remain perpetually as a world-class center for design. Plans for the house include hands-on restoration projects to be guided by architecture students, lectures and community gatherings.
“I could not be more enthusiastic about the future of the school and the house, as well as the opportunity of expanding its cultural and educational footprint into the heart of Phoenix,” says Rawling. “We look forward to the learning opportunities this gift presents.”