Frank Lloyd Wright's architecture school to close after 88 years

Updated 30th January 2020
SCOTTSDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 9:  Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin West in Scottsdale, Arizona on December 9, 2017. (Photo by Jim Steinfeldt/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
Credit: Jim Steinfeldt/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Frank Lloyd Wright's architecture school to close after 88 years
Written by Oscar Holland, CNN
The architecture school founded by Frank Lloyd Wright will close its doors after almost 90 years, it was announced Tuesday.
Based at the celebrated architect's former residences in Wisconsin and Arizona, The School of Architecture at Taliesin will shut in June following what it described as a "gut-wrenching" decision.
Founded as the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture, the school was renamed in 2017 after it formally broke away from the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, an organization tasked with preserving its namesake's legacy. A press release said the school's closure was due to its inability to "reach an agreement" with the foundation, which retained ownership of its premises.
"This is a sad and somber day for our school, our students and staff and the architecture community," said Dan Schweiker, chair of the school's board of governors, in a press statement. "We are saddened we could not reach an agreement with the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation to continue operating the architecture school.
"Our innovative school and its mission were integral to Frank Lloyd Wright's vision for connecting architecture to our natural world. Wright's legacy was not just building. It was a school to promulgate the lessons for all future generations."
Frank Lloyd Wright pictured at a drafting table at Taliesin, in Spring Green, Wisconsin.
Frank Lloyd Wright pictured at a drafting table at Taliesin, in Spring Green, Wisconsin. Credit: Hedrich Blessing Collection/Chicago History Museum/Getty Images
Wright, who died in 1959, is considered one of the modern era's greatest architects. He designed some of America's most iconic buildings, including the Fallingwater house in Pennsylvania, and New York's Guggenheim Museum.
In 1932, Wright established his eponymous school at Taliesin, his studio and primary residence near Spring Green, Wisconsin, and Taliesin West, his winter home in Scottsdale, Arizona. The school's students also split their time between the two campuses.
Both are UNESCO World Heritage sites and include buildings designed by Wright in the early 20th century. The schools at both the Taliesin and Taliesin West campuses will close, but events and visitor tours will continue at the two locations.
Approximately 30 students are currently enrolled in the school's programs. The institution said it is in talks with Arizona State University's design school to allow them to transfer credits and complete their degrees after the spring semester ends.
The school's move to break away from the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, which had previously operated it, came after the Higher Learning Commission said the institution needed to be financial independent in order to renew its accreditation. Following a fundraising drive, the school's independent status was announced alongside its new name in 2017.
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But in a statement, the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation said that the school "did not have a sustainable business model that would allow it to maintain its operation as an accredited program." It claimed that an offer had been made to allow current students to complete their programs.
"The Foundation had reached an agreement with the leaders of the (school's board) that would have allowed for second- and third-year students to complete their education at Taliesin and Taliesin West, and we are disappointed that it was not approved by the full (board)," the organization's president and CEO, Stuart Graff, is quoted as saying. "We continue to stand ready to assist in making sure that this change occurs in the best interests of the students."
The foundation said that it would continue to provide educational programs for both children and adults.
"In an age of so much turbulence, this school and its students provided so much peace," said Jacki Lynn, a member of the school's board of governors, in a statement.
"It breaks my heart that all the parties could not come together to ensure the proper legacy of this great American."