Frank Lloyd Wright School in Turmoil

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Forty-six years after Frank Lloyd Wright's death, the architecture school and the fellowship that bear his name are fighting for their survival — in part because of their unconventional nature.

Taliesin West exterior

Built in the 1930s, Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin West looks more modern than the new construction surrounding its 600-acre site east of Phoenix. Megan Kaveler/Courtesy Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation hide caption

itoggle caption Megan Kaveler/Courtesy Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation

Built in the 1930s, Taliesin West is a compound of low-slung, angular buildings-concrete walls embedded with quartz, jutting redwood roofs and translucent ceilings letting in Scottsdale, Ariz.'s natural light.

In the last year-and-a-half, two CEO's have resigned, along with the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture's dean and a number of faculty members. The turmoil came after a report became public saying that Taliesin West and a sister campus in Wisconsin needed $100 million for future development. The need for restoration work in both facilities has now more than doubled that estimate.

Today, most of Taliesin's income comes from tours. The school has never made money — it charges a modest $13,000-per-year tuition, which includes room and board. But Victor Sidy, a former apprentice who is the school's new dean, is hopeful. He wants to increase enrollment from the current dozen to 30, and to use Taliesin as a laboratory — not just a museum.

"This is an amazing challenge," Sidy says, "how can we take a wonderful set of buildings and breathe that type of life, intellectual rigor, creativity into them and come out with cutting-edge ideas?"

Frank Lloyd Wright in 1954.

Frank Lloyd Wright set up the school and the Taliesin Fellowship, then populated them with his disciples. Some critics say they are frozen in Wright's time. Library of Congress hide caption

itoggle caption Library of Congress
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