The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation launches the Taliesin Institute with Jennifer Gray at the helm

New Horizons

The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation launches the Taliesin Institute with Jennifer Gray at the helm

Taliesin pictured in 2018. (Stilfehler/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0)

The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation is moving to beef up its educational offerings and on January 31 announced the launch of the Taliesin Institute, which will offer classes at both Taliesin in Spring Green, Wisconsin, and Taliesin West in Scottsdale, Arizona.

The program has been in the works for the last two years, as the foundation has met with architecture schools, educators, practitioners, and members of the community to build out its curriculum and partnerships.

(Perhaps not coincidentally, two years ago in 2020 was when the split between the foundation and the School of Architecture at Taliesin, now just The School of Architecture, came to a head. After it was announced in January that the school would close, the school’s board reversed its vote and decided to keep the institution open after all. A formal name change and move to Cosanti followed in June.)

“It is not enough to present Wright’s work through tours and museum engagement programs,” said Stuart Graff, president and CEO of the foundation, in announcing the Taliesin Institute. “Wright intended his Foundation to perpetuate the field of organic architecture, including training architects in his principles of design. Those principles are constantly evolving and changing, because they are built around the way we live and embrace new materials, new technologies, and a changing culture.”

To that end, the institute will, according to the foundation, focus on hands-on work to adhere to Wright’s ethos of “learning by doing.”

The program’s specifics aren’t public yet at the time of writing, but public classes, workshops, and symposia will be offered at both Taliesin campuses. Some existing partnerships, such as the extant one with the University of Pennsylvania’s Historic Preservation Program, will also be strengthened.

Though specific educators haven’t been announced yet, the leader of the new Taliesin Institute is Wright scholar and educator Doctor Jennifer Gray. In her current role at Columbia’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP), Gray is Curator of Drawings and Archives at the Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library and an adjunct assistant professor. She also co-curated the 2017 exhibition Frank Lloyd Wright at 150: Unpacking the Archive at The Museum of Modern Art. Gray sits on the board of directors at the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy.

“I am very excited to be part of this new venture and look forward to exploring and advancing Wright’s ideas about architecture, education, community, the environment and more and how they remain relevant for us today,” said Gray. “We’ll use the early months to focus on fleshing out the strategic plan for the Institute and then announce specific programs as they are ready to come online. Everything will be done to start with small, focused programs that can be fine-tuned and scaled up as the opportunities allow.”

Gray will participate under a contract with the foundation until this summer, when she’ll join the Taliesin Institute full-time.

Graff told AN that the institute’s programs won’t seek academic accreditation like a college or university, but that he expects it will offer accredited continuing education programs for professionals.

AN will follow up and report back once the full scope of the Taliesin Institute’s programming is made public.