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Photographing Taliesin West

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Wright preferred to use local materials for his buildings, so the stone used in the walls was found on site. The walls were constructed by filling the space where the wall was supposed to be with boulders and then casting concrete around it, so that the walls would seem like a natural extension of the landscape rather than something imposed on the site.

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The roof was originally constructed from redwood and canvas to allow for an abundance of natural light. However, these materials proved to be ineffective against Arizona summer temperatures of up to 115 degrees Fahrenheit, so the wood was reinforced with steel painted Wright’s signature Cherokee red, and glass replaced the plastic.

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Wright’s buildings are perfect examples of site-specific architecture, and Taliesin West is no exception. Its long, low forms and colors all evoke the impression of something that, in Wright’s words, “belongs to the Arizona desert as though it had stood there during creation.”

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The interior of Taliesin West is no less striking. The angle at which the roof slopes down would normally be very claustrophobic, and a roof of glass panels would quickly make a room overwhelmingly hot and bright, yet the roof of Taliesin West manages to avoid both issues and create an environment that feels much brighter and larger than it actually is. The stonework helps ground the structure without making the building feel oppressively low and heavy, and the emphasis on natural and local materials makes Taliesin West seem more than just a building in the landscape. Wright loved to employ his signature Cherokee red in his buildings, but in Taliesin West he also added touches of cobalt in the chairs, and the combination works beautifully.

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