Night Lights on the Desert
Frank Lloyd Wright created Taliesin West as the winter home for his school of architecture. The campus sits on the flank of the McDowell Mountains overlooking Scottsdale, Arizona. Protected acres of pristine Sonoran desert surrounds the Wright designed buildings as suburbia creeps ever closer. Visitors from around the world come to tour Taliesin West and learn more about Wright’s design philosophy.
On past visits we’ve taken the 90-minute Insights and the 3-hour Behind the Scenes Tours, each time learning about, perhaps, the best known of 20th-century American architects. This time we made reservations for the Night Lights on the Desert Tour.
Beginning just before sunset, the two-hour tour includes everything on the daytime Insights Tour plus a stop for refreshments. On most evenings participants are also treated to colorful sunsets followed by star-studded skies and the lights of Scottsdale/Phoenix in the valley below.
Before the tour begins Bob scurries to catch photos as the late afternoon sun warm buildings, sculpture and landscape. As our guide gives background on Wright and Taliesin West we keep eyes focused westward, not to be rude but to watch the kaleidoscope of changing colors – from pinks, violets and lemon yellow to bronze, burnt orange and deep purple.
When the color show fades we visit Wright’s private office and the living room. Labeled the Garden Room by Wright, this was the social center for family, guests, associates and students. We sit in Wright-designed furniture while the guide tells us about construction methods and materials. This evening we are guests in the Wright home, perhaps his dynamic spirit hovers there with us.
After stopping in the bedroom wing the group partakes of tea, lemonade and cookies in an alcove outside of the dining room. Wind prohibits the fire-breathing dragon from staying lit but an outdoor corner fireplace nips the slight chill in the air. The tour concludes with visits to the Kiva, Cabaret Theater and Music Pavilion.
Although there is some duplication, each tour we’ve taken has offered new information and insights. Every guide has been extremely well versed with an obvious dedication to accuracy, however, you do get a slightly different view as the guide’s own interest, knowledge and background come through. We plan to take the Desert Shelter Tour the next time we’re in Scottsdale.
When You Go: Taliesin West offers the Insights and Panorama Tours Daily except Easter, Thanksgiving Christmas and New Years. Other tours are available either seasonally or on particular days of the week. The website gives tour details and rates. Reservations taken by phone at 480-860-2700 Ext. 494. Tours often fill to capacity, especially those not given daily, reservations are strongly advised.