Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation makes Taliesin West ADA accessible

Independent Newsmedia
Posted 7/15/20

The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation has announced numerous recently completed and in-process accessibility upgrades at Frank Lloyd Wright’s historic Taliesin West in Scottsdale.

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Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation makes Taliesin West ADA accessible


The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation has announced numerous recently completed and in-process accessibility upgrades at Frank Lloyd Wright’s historic Taliesin West in Scottsdale.

The upgrades are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, which will make the UNESCO World Heritage site more accessible when it reopens later this year, according to a press release.

The esteemed architect’s winter home was built more than 50 years before the ADA came to fruition, without the codes and regulations that exist, the release said, describing the tight spaces and changes in level that are difficult or impassable for those with limited mobility.

During the COVID-19 pandemic while Taliesin West is closed to visitors, the Foundation has prioritized efforts and dedicated funds towards making the site’s public spaces more available to all visitors, focusing on ramps, handrails, surfacing and restroom additions.

The Foundation’s preservation team used $250,000 in challenge grant funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, combined with generous matching grants from the Pakis Family Foundation and the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation for the following ADA-compliant projects:

  • Stabilized, decomposed granite was installed at the entrance and on walking paths to provide navigable surfaces for those with restricted mobility.
  • Two custom concrete ramps were installed at both ends of the Prow to allow guests to experience the renowned desert view at Taliesin West and have a pathway to an accessible restroom.
  • A metal ramp leading from the entrance of Wright’s Office was custom-designed to blend into the site’s historic desert masonry walls, while preserving the original concrete landscape.
  • Two custom handrails were designed to limit visual intrusion and provide support for low-rise steps between the Cabaret and Pavilion terraces.
  • A restroom near Taliesin West’s iconic view of the desert landscape was retrofitted to be accessible.

“Our preservation team has used this time wisely in order to expedite the necessary measures to make Taliesin West accessible to all,” said Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Director of Preservation Emily Butler in a prepared statement.

“Some of the work that has been done is not required by the ADA since this is a historic site, however the Foundation has gone above-and-beyond. A great amount of thought was put into selecting materials and colors for each installation that complement Wright’s original look and feel.

Our primary objective is to not take away from the historic or architectural character of the property, yet make it more accessible to visitors of all physical capabilities.”

In addition to the recent upgrades, numerous ventures at Taliesin West are underway, with completion scheduled in time to welcome visitors this fall including an ADA-compliant restroom near the Kiva and two in the Music Pavilion where most performing arts presentations are held.

“The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation wants to make sure that everyone has access to visit Frank Lloyd Wright’s own home, Taliesin West, and experience his work so that they can bring it into their own lives and benefit from his ideas.

We are committed to making sure our site is available to as many people as possible, going beyond legal requirements to do what’s right,” said Stuart Graff, Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation president/CEO, in a prepared statement.

“We have taken this opportunity while the facility is closed to accelerate our accessibility work, adding new ramps and handrails, traversable surfaces, and accessible bathrooms, to make sure that Wright’s laboratory in the desert is welcoming and available for more people.

We’re also using this time to identify ways that we can break down other challenges beyond physical mobility to provide a more inclusive experience to all at this UNESCO World Heritage site.”

The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation relies on donations and memberships to complete important preservation work at Taliesin West and Taliesin in Spring Green, WI.

Financial assistance from the community is important during this challenging time, the release added.

To donate or become a member: