The city of Scottsdale, Arizona (about 12 miles northeast of Phoenix) is known for its majestic sunsets, almost perpetual sun, a deluge of spas, and of course Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West, may soon be getting two new mixed-use developments, including 1,000 residences. One plan by Dallas-based developers JLB Partners is called "Scottsdale Marketplace" and the second is "District at the Quarter" by Kaplan Management Co, based in Houston. JLB paid a record price in Scottsdale ($1.5 million) for land at the southeast corner of Chauncey Lane and Scottsdale Road. “When JLB bought 10 undeveloped acres at Scottsdale Road and Chauncey Lane from the Arizona State Land Department in May 2015, the $1.5 million-per-acre price tag was the most anyone had ever paid at a state land auction,” wrote the Arizona Republic. Scottsdale Marketplace is expected to include mixed-use amenities: dining, retail, and 5 stories of 301 residences. The project could also include a coffee shop, fitness space, rooftop pool, and from renderings, what looks like lots of palm trees for the commercial portion in the otherwise arid climate of Scottsdale (though some say palm trees are water-intensive and provide little shade). If the project gets the zoning green light from the Scottsdale City Council, the project could break ground spring 2017 and cost $80 million. The second Scottsdale project, by developer Kaplan, is called District at the Quarter. It is slated for nine acres at the northeast corner of 73rd Street and Greenway-Hayden Loop and will feature mainly residences, with some retail. (The site currently holds an office building and is zoned for industrial use.) The developers' plan include four stories of 644 residences (these could be condos or apartments), courtyards with fountains, two pools, and other outdoor hangout spaces for barbecues, fire pits, and more. If Scottsdale City Council passes the two plans (though this could be at least a few months for zoning change approvals), the projects could open by 2018 at the earliest.
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In collaboration with the Scottsdale, Arizona-based Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation (FLWF), the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture (FLWSA) has raised more than $2 million dollars from 317 contributors. To comply with new accreditation requirements, the school is in the process of becoming an independent subsidiary of the foundation. The funds are an important milestone on the FLWSA's journey towards financial stability. The FLWSA was founded by Wright in 1932 at Taliesin, his home in Spring Green, Wisconsin. The school, with a current enrollment of 19 students in its M.Arch program, is now dually located at Taliesin and Taliesin West, in Scottsdale. In 2011, the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) changed its accreditation requirements, stipulating that it will no longer grant accreditation to schools which operate under umbrella institutions with "multifaceted missions." The FLWF, whose purpose is to "preserve Taliesin and Taliesin West for future generations, and enrich society through an understanding of Frank Lloyd Wright’s ideas, architecture, and design,” is helping the school on its mission. As part of the agreement, the foundation will loan the school classroom and residential facilities at Taliesin and Taliesin West. The FLWF will put $1.4 million over four years towards the operating costs of the school, in addition to a $7 million investment over the same period. FLWSA's dean, Aaron Betsky, outlined the direction the school will take: “We have been hard at work with the Foundation’s staff and Board to ensure the School’s future not just in financial and organizational terms, but also by improving its curriculum and by developing programs that continue Wright’s legacy in organic architecture and learning by doing in ways that answer to our needs for a more sustainable, open, and beautiful human-made environment.” Students will design and build desert shelters, as well as take newly added courses in digital fabrication, design, and theory. The school has a four year partnership with the mining towns of Miami and Globe, Arizona. Students will carry out community–based projects in those communities and in similar towns near Taliesin. To solidify accreditation, the foundation and the school board will prepare a "Change of Control" application for the HLC to review in June 2016. If the HLC approves, the foundation will file documents with state and federal agencies to legally recognize the school as an independent subsidiary of the foundation. If all goes smoothly, the process is expected to be complete by early 2017.
In 2010, at 91, architect and Arcosanti founder Paolo Soleri saw the opening of the Soleri Bridge in Scottsdale, Arizona. The cable-stay pedestrian crossing was the culmination of 60 years of bridge sketches and drawings. Peruvian artist Grimanesa Amorós continues Soleri’s dedication to experimentation with Golden Waters, an art installation extending from the bridge into the Arizona canal. Commissioned by Scottsdale Public Art, Amorós’ light sculpture is suspended from the 130-foot-long span and resembles sketched lines hovering over the surface of the water. The light ribbons are made out of LEDs, custom electrical hardware, and diffusive material. Each is held in place by a cable suspension system and steel structure. The armature, which allows the piece to extend 164 feet and rise 25 feet above the surface, seems to vanish at night when the artwork is illuminated. Amorós’ artworks often blend technology with social history, scientific research, and an organic approach to any given site. In 2011, she presented a lighting sculpture inspired by the pre-Incan Uros tribe at the Frank Gehry–designed flagship of Issey Miyake. In Scottsdale, Golden Waters is meant to evoke both local history and express the interplay between urban and natural elements. “The ancient Hohokam Indians, located in northern Arizona, were one of the first cultures to rely on irrigation canals,” she explained. “As early as 300 AD, the community’s environmental engineering improved access to river water and helped improve the lives of the inhabitants.” Golden Waters will be on view in Scottsdale, Arizona through September 30, 2015.
The search for a new leader of Frank Lloyd Wright's School of Architecture concluded today, as the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation named Aaron Betsky the new dean in charge of Taliesin. Betsky previously served as director of the Cincinnati Art Museum, but stepped down from that position in January 2014. He was previously the director of the Netherlands Architecture Institute, and he directed the 11th International Architecture Exhibition at the Venice Biennale in 2008. He has authored numerous books on art and architecture and continues to blog for Architect. Split between campuses in Spring Green, Wisconsin and Scottsdale, Arizona, the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture is in the middle of a fundraising campaign that could decide the future of the school's accreditation. Facing new rules from the Higher Learning Commission, officials from the institution said they must raise at least $2 million before the end of 2015, or the school will lose its standing once those new rules take effect in 2017. Betsky will "set the intellectual tone or the School," according to a press release, but he will also have to help tackle the school's financial challenges. "Frank Lloyd Wright's architecture broke the box and opened vistas toward a democratic landscape; he made organic architecture and built with, rather than on, the land before anybody talked about sustainable architecture," Betsky said in a statement. "I look forward to continuing the tradition of experimental architecture he did so much to define." The future of that tradition, however, remains uncertain. In December Sean Malone, president of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, said the school would remain committed to design education even if they are no longer able to award accredited degrees after 2017. With Betsky at the helm that mission appears intact; the Foundation said they will continue to award degrees at their Taliesin East and Taliesin West campuses either way, perhaps in partnership with accredited institutions. "We wanted a bold thinker and a talented leader," Malone said in a statement, "and we found both in Aaron." Betsky, who was born in Montana but grew up in the Netherlands, succeeds Victor Sidy, who returns to his private architectural practice. Betsky assumes the role of dean immediately.
Glass and corrugated metal envelop a Scottsdale cycling shop.When debartolo architects principal Jack DeBartolo 3 AIA first visited the site of Bicycle Haüs in Scottsdale, he knew it was exactly what owners Shasta and Kale Keltz were looking for. "In Arizona, with our very intense heat, we love it when we can unite two things: a northern orientation to maximize light without direct sun, and high visibility to the public way," said DeBartolo. "When a parcel's oriented like this, with its main side facing north, it allows us to do both things in one. We can build a glass facade for light and to advertise the contents, and it can also be a view building." DeBartolo's firm designed a wedge-shaped structure with a broad structural glass facade facing the street. The remainder of the building is clad in weathering steel, a low-maintenance material that taps into the desert aesthetic of decay and renewal. "The concept for the building was all about its orientation, and its place, and its environmental response," explained DeBartolo. The architects chose a wedge form for the 5,000-square-foot showroom for several reasons. First, they wanted to maximize glazing on the north-facing facade. "With the shape of the building we collect that northern light and pull it deeply into the building," said DeBartolo. "In the desert, we get a lot of our intense sunlight bouncing off the ground. It also bounces off the ceiling inside the space, so often there's almost no electric light needed in this room." In addition, the building's massing pushes its activity to the street rather than to the back of the lot. Finally, the architects designed the wedge form and a gently sloping roof to someday accommodate solar panels. The 48-foot-wide, 30-foot-tall structural glass wall on the north facade was the product of careful coordination among the architects, engineers, and installers. "What we love, and where we often say less is more work, is that in Arizona we can attach the glass directly to the structural shell using a liquid affixing system," said DeBartolo. Steel tabs welded to the ends of a series of 2-inch-by-6-inch structural tube steel columns receive six-foot-wide panels of low-e insulated glass. Since the glass and steel erectors work with different tolerance levels, explained DeBartolo, "getting them all on the same page early on takes a pretty significant learning curve. You're pushing construction to the max, but we love the overall quality we get when we've literally just glazed the structure." The bicycle shop's mezzanine level cantilevers ten feet over the entrance to create a shaded porch. In addition to providing a space for cyclists to gather before and after rides, the porch "encourages sidewalk activity along First Avenue," said DeBartolo. "That's an important criterion that Scottsdale's trying to push." Corrugated box rib cold-rolled steel, fabricated by Gen3, envelops the building's east, south, and west facades. "The idea was to economize the skin and create a really well-insulated building," said DeBartolo. The architects liked that the steel was available in 30-foot runs, allowing them to avoid horizontal seams. They also wanted "something with aesthetic richness," said DeBartolo. "We try to do everything we can to avoid painting buildings. This weathering steel allows the building to continue to enrich itself as time passes." At the southwest corner of the lot, where team members enter through a back door, debartolo architects carved a notch out of the building's massing, replacing the corrugated envelope with galvanized flat panels affixed with VHB. "We allowed the interior when we cut it away to remain galvanized," explained DeBartolo. "It creates relief, visually, from the harsh exterior." The designers incorporated custom slot windows into the metal facades. "They work really well with our strong western light," said DeBartolo. "We just get little strips of lights rather than a large mass that creates heat gain." The windows are arranged so that they hit the corrugation pattern at the same place every time. They are also integrated with the interior displays, moving up and down to make way for racks of merchandize. "It was very thought through, very methodical, though it created something that almost looks random," said DeBartolo. The architecture of the Bicycle Haüs embodies the owners' passion for cycling. "They really pride themselves on staying state of the art with respect to cycling," said DeBartolo. "In much the same way they wanted the building to really respond to that. Furniture and fixtures define the movement of people, but the space is a lofty room that's almost a gallery for bicycles."
After almost eight decades of constant use, Taliesin West is ready for a makeover. The Scottsdale, Arizona site was Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home, studio, and architecture school. Today, the campus houses the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture and is also a popular tourist destination, with over 100,000 visitors annually. Now, time, climate, and footsteps have taken their toll on the landmark. A combination of heavy use and the complex's desert environment have left Taliesin West in need of significant restoration, as well as accessibility, sustainability, and safety upgrades. As a first step towards remaking Taliesin West, the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation has selected Chicago firm Harboe Architects to prepare a preservation master plan of the site. “[T. Gunny] Harboe and his firm rose to the top of a truly extraordinary field,” Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation CEO and President Sean Malone said. The selection committee—which included Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation staff leadership, its Preservation Committee, and a Preservation Oversight Committee made up of five outside experts—chose Harboe Architects from among more than forty contenders. “Harboe had such a remarkable understanding of Wright’s work and this particular project,” Malone said. Harboe will undertake a year-long study of Taliesin West, a National Historic Landmark site constructed between 1937 and 1959, to determine the scope of the restoration (including cost and timeline). Through research, multiple site visits, and a cultural and structural history of the location, the preservation team will answer two questions: what needs to be restored and why. “Why is a really exciting question,” Malone explained. “Part of the project is [defining a] preservation philosophy. Then once we make those decisions, that’s going to drive the decision about how.” Besides Harboe, the team also includes Michael Henry, of Watson and Henry Associates, and Dorothy Krotzer, of Building Conservation Associates. Harboe’s team faces particular challenges in preserving a site that was never meant to be static. “Taliesin West is more complicated than a lot of sites because change over time was an inherent part of the story,” Malone said. Unlike other Wright sites (except Taliesin, the architect’s Wisconsin home and studio), the Scottsdale campus was not built for one particular time. Instead, it was designed as a laboratory, a space within which ideas about architecture could develop and change. “It’s a living place. Its evolution is part of its history,” Malone said.