Germek: What will Taliesin West become with its main purpose now dead?


Stuart Graff, president and CEO of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, finally saw the demise of that pesky architectural school at Taliesin West.

Now he can have more paid events without students complaining, rent out their unique dwellings for a simulated student experience and convert their dining hall into a moderately expensive restaurant.

He claims he did everything to help them survive like suspending their rent payments and sharing some services. He even offered to help set up non-accredited, hands-on courses for architects, designers and the interested public, a plan to ”transform the school for the 21st Century,” whatever that means. A bit of a step-down from a real college but hey, beggars can’t be choosy.

Did he ever consider helping them establish an endowment fund, recruit students, attract new faculty, start a building fund or provide new IT systems and technology?

He said in his article in the Scottsdale Independent that they wanted to be independent from him and the Foundation. I think that other educators and architects might feel the same way. Does he find it sad that the school perished trying to make it on their own?

Graff doesn’t want Taliesin West to be “mere house museums.” Presumably like Jefferson’s Monticello or Anne Frank’s house. Would Frank Lloyd Wright be proud to see Graff’s merchandising plan to sell FLW flooring, bathroom tiles, napkins and cocktail glasses?

Graff failed to set up a major entertainment venue on the Taliesin West desert property only because the citizens of Scottsdale rejected the Desert Discovery Center project in a referendum. However, now the way is clear to build an amusement park featuring Frank’s Ferris Wheel and the Falling Water Boat Ride. All intended to make Frank’s legacy flourish.

It is ironic that Graff claims that Frank Lloyd Wrights’ legacy will live on under his management even though the architectural school, the main purpose for Taliesin West’s existence, is dead.

Editor’s Note: AJ Germek is a Scottsdale resident.