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The time is Wright: Frank Lloyd celebrated
from L.A. to New York this month

February 23, 2010 | 12:15 pm
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Frank Lloyd Wright, arguably the first "starchitect" and perhaps the most celebrated residential designer of the 20th century, continues to be a news maker more than 50 years after his death.

"Contemplating the Void," a show featuring 200 renderings showing how architects and artists would fill the atrium of Wright's iconic Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, opened this month in celebration of the building's 50th anniversary. (Read Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne's assessment of the show.)

Then on Feb. 14, in a fitting valentine to the architect, an archive of Wright photographs and drawings was sold at auction to the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. And on Saturday, Frank Lloyd Wright fans in Los Angeles will have an opportunity to view the 1921 Hollyhock house

On a recent trip to Scottsdale, Ariz., I took a guided tour of Taliesin West, pictured above, the residence and studio of the architect and headquarters of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. 

Wright collected Asian ceramics and often incorporated pieces in the masonry at Taliesin West. Check out some of the details that caught my eye.

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Tale ceraAbove photo: Echoing the mountain behind it, Taliesin West rises from the ground with slanted stone walls like a truncated pyramid. The ceiling's protruding cross beams rest on decorative posts that taper almost to a point, right.

Pictured at right: A niche of figurines, one of the many that decorate structural walls, and a fountain decorated with colorful glass balls.

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Above photo: Frank Lloyd Wright slept here. In the bedroom wing of the house, light streams in from a glass wall and an open ceiling covered with retractable cloth panels. Wright kept a desk and a pair of beds divided by a partition. During the day, he would nap on the far side of the wooden panel.

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Above photo: Next door to his bedroom, a sitting room has walls and a fireplace made from rocks found on the property. Near the hearth are two Wright stools with the tapered shape so often seen in the architect's home furnishings.

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Wright was a prodigious creator of custom furniture. Many of his chairs had an origami-like design, but that did not necessarily make them comfortable. The utilitarian chairs above bear a hexagonal or circular back, They not only reference the shapes, composition and colors of his early 20th century stained glass designs, but also reveal a distinctly midcentury Modern silhouette.

Students at the still-operating Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture continue to use Taliesin West's theater for performances. To maximize its acoustics, Wright built the room as a sunken stone cavern. On stage, even a whisper from performers with their backs to the audience can be plainly heard.

Below left: A wall sconce near the ceiling. Below right: An illuminated triangular panel at floor level lights the aisle.

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-- David A. Keeps

Photo credits: David A. Keeps

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