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Taliesin West by Frank Lloyd Wright

Frank Lloyd Wright's School of Architecture at Taliesin to close after 88 years

The School of Architecture at Taliesin, which Frank Lloyd Wright established nearly 90 years ago, will shut in June, after failing to come to a financial agreement with the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation.

The school released a statement today that its board was forced to make the "gut-wrenching decision" to close both of its campuses in Scottsdale, Arizona and Spring Green, Wisconsin. It added that its backers had called the move "tragic".

"The School of Architecture at Taliesin will cease operations after this semester, after a gut-wrenching decision by its governing board on Saturday," said the statement.

School did "everything possible" to fight for survival

"The School of Architecture at Taliesin was not able to reach an agreement with the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation to keep the school open," it added.

Dan Schweiker, a chairperson of the governing board, said that they did "everything possible to fight for its survival" but were unable to reach an agreement with the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, which owns the school's campuses at Taliesin in Wisconsin and Taliesin West in Arizona.

"The closure of the school is very emotional for our students, our faculty and staff and all of us who worked so hard for this one-of-a-kind institution and its important role in Frank Lloyd Wright's legacy," Schweiker said.

Institution aimed to continue Wright's vision

Wright, who is considered most of the most important architects from the 20th century, established the school in 1932 to teach the Taliesin Fellowship – an apprenticeship that allowed 50 to 60 students to study under the architect.

Taliesin West by Frank Lloyd Wright
The school comprised Taliesin West in Arizona (pictured top and above) and Wright's home and studio Taliesin, in Spring Green, Wisconsin

"Our innovative school and its mission were integral to Frank Lloyd Wright's vision for connecting architecture to our natural world," Schweiker said.

"Wright's legacy was not just building," he continued. "It was a school to promulgate the lessons for all future generations."

The school was originally called the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture and funded by the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation – which was established by the American architect in 1940. It was renamed the School of Architecture at Taliesin in 2017, as part of its break from the parent organisation in 2017.

School split from foundation due to accreditation issue

The separation stemmed from an accreditation issue – the school needed to become an independent entity by this year to have its accreditation with the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), one of the agencies that accredit US architecture schools, renewed. In 2010,  HLC said accredited schools could not be financially dependent upon a non-academic institution.

The university is accredited with the National Architectural Accrediting Board and the Arizona State Board for Private Postsecondary Education.

Aaron Betsky, who is also a regular Opinion columnist for Dezeen, became the school's dean in 2015.

According to the statement, the School of Architecture at Taliesin will continue to operate during the Spring 2020 semester, and close at the end of June.

It is working out an agreement for the 30 students studying at the school currently to transfer credits and complete their degree programmes with The Design School at Arizona State University's Herberger Institute for Design.

Photography is by Andrew Pielage.