News and updates from the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation

Remembering John Rattenbury

Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation | Mar 29, 2021

The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation is saddened to announce the passing of Frank Lloyd Wright apprentice and Taliesin Architects cofounder, John Rattenbury. Rattenbury passed away on March 28, 2021 at the age of 93. Please join us in celebrating his life and accomplishments.

John Rattenbury was born in Victoria, Canada on December 27, 1928 to British Columbian architect Francis Mawson Rattenbury and music composer Alma Clarke Rattenbury.  John tragically lost his parents at an early age and went on to live with his maternal grandmother in Vancouver by age 11.

Between 1946-1949, he attended the University of British Columbia for architecture, followed by Oregon State College until 1950. During this time, John discovered a 1948 issue of Architecture Forum featuring Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture. Wright’s work was so inspiring to John that he applied to Taliesin in the fall of 1950 and was accepted. He made the long drive from Vancouver to Spring Green, Wisconsin, only to be told to meet the Fellowship across the country in Arizona at Taliesin West.


John Rattenbury in the Dining Room at Taliesin West in 2017.

Once at Taliesin West, John adapted to desert camp life where he lived in a tent and immersed himself in Fellowship activities—from desert masonry construction, electrical and lighting work, to breakfast cook. John became a vital part of the Taliesin West community and eventually took it upon himself to carefully organize Frank Lloyd Wright’s burgeoning architectural drawings.

After Frank Lloyd Wright’s death in 1959, Rattenbury helped co-found Taliesin Architects where he was able to work on Wright projects including the Marin County Civic Center in California and serving as the Project Architect in Arizona for ASU’s Grady Gammage Memorial Auditorium.

We celebrate John for his dedication to the Wright legacy, his work as an architect, and his friendship. We will never forget his smile and beautiful voice as he would break out into song in the dining room.

John Rattenbury pictured with drawings and plans at Arizona State University’s Grady Gammage Memorial Auditorium.

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