Taliesin West’s Garden Room and Pools Restored to Frank Lloyd Wright Era
Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation | Nov 24, 2021
The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Preservation and Collections team bring us back in time with historical colors and materials at Taliesin West.
With the support of our members and donors, the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation’s dedicated preservation team works to provide the most authentic and inspiring experiences for visitors to Taliesin in Wisconsin and Taliesin West in Arizona. Their work is in concert with our collections team, who care for Wright’s significant collections of art, artifacts, furnishings, prototypes, and more.
The Foundation’s Director of Preservation at Taliesin West, Rebecca Barron, shared with us her account of the recent preservation projects completed at Taliesin West to prepare for the upcoming Chihuly in the Desert exhibition.
When the pools at Taliesin West were built, and throughout Wright’s lifetime, their concrete surfaces were left unfinished. Like much of the site, Wright utilized natural materials to blend the buildings int the desert, and the pool surfaces were no exception. In the following decades, the water features were plastered and painted a bright blue. The recent resurfacing of the fountains restores them to their appearance during Wright’s time on the property by using a surfacing material that more closely matches the look and feel of unfinished concrete. A similar approach was taken with the resurfacing of the triangular pool on the prow. The impact of these changes is exciting as the surface now serves as a mirror to reflect the buildings and landscape, per Wright’s original intention of reflecting pool. The finished product stuns day and night!
The restoration work recently completed in the Garden Room is part of a larger phased plan to enhance the aesthetic and experiential values of the Wrights’ personal living room. Like the pools, the Garden Room continued to change after Wright’s passing. It was, of course, a living site, and home to Wright’s wife and the Taliesin Fellowship who continued to make modifications to suit their lives and needs. Our plan is to bring these spaces back to the historical period of Frank Lloyd Wright’s design, and, in this case, we are restoring it to the 1950s, the final decade of Wright’s life.
The first phase involved the reintroduction and reorganization of interior elements and collection items within the Garden Room in late 2020. Over the last few months, the preservation department has been working on the next phase, which includes the reconstruction of the banco seating and reupholstery of the Garden Room furniture, to reflect the color palette of the era. This work included a careful selection of textiles for the room’s upholstery, shifting from orange to red for the banco seating, and incorporating blues and golds into the surrounding furniture.
Since Wright’s passing in 1959, the banco seating and upholstery in the Garden Room have undergone several transformations and restorations. In the 1960s the banco seating was significantly altered to accommodate the introduction of central heating and cooling. A wooden back and skirt were added, and the upholstery was changed to a light orange. In the 1990s it was restored to its 1959 design and reupholstered using a blue fabric, rather than its 1950s rust red fabric. The most recent iteration of the banco seating was constructed in the late 2000s, which restored its 1970s appearance.
When you come visit, we know you’ll agree that the work was more than worth the effort. The pools shine and the Garden Room is a clear natural extension of the garden and landscape beyond. We hope the experience will inspire you to think differently about how we build and live in the world, more deeply connected to nature, the beauty around us, and our loved ones.
This work is not possible without your support! Donate or become a member of the Foundation to directly impact the preservation of the life, legacy, and work of Frank Lloyd Wright. You will also gain special access and engagement opportunities offered to members only!
As a member of the Foundation, you become an integral part in supporting the Foundation’s mission to inspire people to discover and embrace an architecture for better living through meaningful connections to nature, the arts, and each other.