Taliesin West
Receives UNESCO World Heritage Site Status
text by Kathryn Brooks
photos courtesy of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation

In 1937, legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright chose a rocky mesa at the foot of the McDowell Mountains as the site for his new winter home and studio, which he named Taliesin West. Now in its 82nd year, the historic campus continues to serve as a model of organic architecture, a pilgrimage site for design enthusiasts and a training ground for a new generations of architects.

Taliesen West is a classic example of Wright’s approach to integrating architecture with the landscape. In addition to Wright’s use of natural, locally sourced building materials, the complex’s earthy palette, sloped roofs and strong diagonal lines evoke the forms of the nearby mountains. Although more structures were added in subsequent years, the buildings flow together in a logical and orderly rhythm.

Named as a National Historic Landmark in 1982, Taliesen West was inscribed to UNESCO (The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) World Heritage Site status on July 7. This recognition is an extraordinary honor acknowledging Taliesen West’s historic and cultural significance.

The seven additional Frank Lloyd Wright buildings included in the designation are the Guggenheim Museum in New York, Fallingwater in Pennsylvania, Hollyhock House in Los Angeles, Fredrick C. Robie House in Chicago Jacobs House in Wisconsin, Taliesen in Wisconsin and Unity Temple in Illinois.

There are currently a total of 1,121 World Heritage Sites located in 167 countries – the Great Pyramids of Giza, Stonehenge, Petra in Jordan and the Acropolis among them – with only 24 in the United States. Arizona has just one other – Grand Canyon National Park – included as a natural site. Taliesen West is listed as a cultural site.

“It’s an immense honor to have Frank Lloyd Wright’s work recognized on the world stage among the most vital and important cultural sites on Earth,” said Stuart Graff, president and CEO of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation.   “These sites are not simply World Heritage monuments because they are beautiful. These are places of profound influence, inspiration, and connection.”