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02.21.2014
Wright Ahead
At Taliesin, the search is on for a new academic director.
Courtesy Taliesin West

The Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture (FLWSA) is being remade to better serve its decades-old mission, and they are looking for a new director to chart the course.

Founded more than 80 years ago as The Taliesin Fellowship, FLWSA’s mission is to challenge normative educational models and influence architecture and culture at the highest level, said Sean Malone, the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation’s president and CEO. The school offers a fully accredited master of architecture degree program. Students study at Taliesin West in Scottsdale, Arizona, and Taliesin in Spring Green, Wisconsin. Taliesin and Taliesin West are on the National Register of Historical Places, and preserve hundreds of thousands of artifacts from Frank Lloyd Wright’s life and career. The collections abound with more than 20,000 original drawings, 190,000 pieces of correspondence and documents, and hundreds of original manuscripts.

In addition to seeking a new director, the school will shift from a curricular educational approach to a studio-based model that it hopes will better serve its founding principles. In Malone’s words, “It will fully embrace one of the Taliesin’s core values: learning by doing.”

The new director will be tasked with developing, implementing, and launching new curricular and programming initiatives and will oversee the school’s pedagogical direction, academic programs, personnel, students, finances, and reputation. “It is an exciting position, and any exciting position requires somebody with real depth of ability. That’s true of any transformational leader, in academia and beyond,” said Malone.

The school’s new direction followed technical changes to the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) bylaws that pertain to governance more than a year ago, said Malone. In good standing with the HLC, the foundation took the opportunity to reevaluate how it could have the deepest impact on architecture over the next 10 years.

Reed Kroloff, former director of Michigan’s Cranbrook Academy of Art and Art Museum, is chair of the director search committee. “We think it’s time to renew our commitment to discovery and invention, and we’re looking for a leader who is ready to speak to a profession in need of direction,” he said in a statement. “We don’t want someone who designs like Wright. We want someone who can think as boldly as he did.”

There are few opportunities to re-build a program like the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture. “It’s big, and it’s exciting,” said Malone. “I have no doubt that we’re going to find somebody who sees this as a perfect fit for where they are in their career.”

Aaron Martin