Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Field Trip: Taliesin in Spring Green, Wisconsin

Our guide pointed out how Wright structurally framed this lovely view.
Shortly after I wrote about our summer visit to Frank Lloyd Wright's gas station, we piled in the car for our second road trip of the season between North Carolina and Minnesota.  We broke our two-day trip in Spring Green, Wisconsin so we could visit Taliesin, an estate that Frank Lloyd Wright created over many years on land owned by his extended family.  We knew we would not be able to tour the main house Wright designed at Taliesin because children under 12 are not allowed (N. was deeply offended by this.  He loves house tours and hated the thought of having to wait four years for this one).  But we spent a beautiful windy morning touring the Hillside School and Theater that Wright built for his aunts who ran an innovative experiential boarding school in the late nineteenth century and gave Wright his first architectural commissions.  As we toured this well-worn building that later became the locus of his own apprenticeship-model teaching, Wright's mode of work felt tangible.  The Hillside School buildings have a handmade, DIY-feeling to them that made Wright seem very immediate to us, as if he had only recently cantilevered this beam or replaced those windows.  The fact that the Hillside complex is still in use as an architecture school enhanced our feeling that it was more living structure than museum.

 Today architecture apprentices and fellows continue to work, as they have since the 1950s, in a large studio where the words of Emerson carved in wood across the front of the room reinforce Wright's philosophy: "What a man does, that he has" (Spiritual Laws).  I was struck by the long heritage of experiential learning centered in the Hillside buildings from Wright's aunts' school to his first youthful experiments with architecture on their property to the apprenticeship learning model that still governs the Taliesin Fellowship.  You learn by doing, and what you do is yours.

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Bonus reading: Tim and N. read Wright's Autobiography last year. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We'll have to put this on our list of places to visit!
-cmr