Closure of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Architecture School Prompts Industry Concern

The School of Architecture at Taliesin announced it was closing last month

Taliesin West
The School of Architecture at Taliesin included classes taught at Taliesin West.
Library of Congress

For some artists and designers, their legacy is their work. For others, it’s in the way that they’ve inspired others to create — a process that can also involve education. Architect Frank Lloyd Wright founded a school of architecture in 1932, based at his home, Taliesin. This endured after his death, first as The Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture, and then as the School of Architecture at Taliesin.

What prompted the change? According to a 2017 report at Architectural Digest, it had to do with the nature of higher education. “The Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture was accredited in 1987 and operated by the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation,” explained Elizabeth Fazarre in the article. “However, a rule passed by the Higher Learning Commission in 2010 deemed it would lose this credential if funded by the non-profit.”

Unfortunately, the school’s time under its new name hasn’t lasted for long. Late last month, it announced that it would be closing. “The School of Architecture at Taliesin will cease operations after this semester, after a gut-wrenching decision by its Governing Board on Saturday,” the announcement read in part. “The School of Architecture at Taliesin was not able to reach an agreement with the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation to keep the school open.”

At Hyperallergic, Lynne Trimble pondered what this might mean for the future of architecture education in the United States. So far, the situation for the approximately 30 students enrolled at Taliesin looks uncertain:

Aaron Betsky, the school’s president since 2015, has announced his plans to leave the school at the end of this semester. So far, neither the foundation nor the school have shared specific plans for helping students transition to other programs.

With the school coming to an end, opinion is divided on what could come next for this corner of architecture education — a non-accredited program? A partnership with a larger educational institution? Whatever comes next, it’s sure to impact a future generation of architects.

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