Students Explore Taliesin West During 8-Day Summer Course

As part of an eight-day immersive program, 13 students from Interior Design, Architecture, Environmental Design, and Regional and City Planning divisions traveled to The School of Architecture at Taliesin West in Scottsdale, Arizona, in June.

The course provided students with an in-depth, studio-based experience which included tours and individual exploration of the house, educational lectures and discussions, and studio exercises.

The exercises were crafted to deepen students’ understanding of Frank Lloyd Wright’s design approach and how his work influenced the work of Bruce Goff, who helped developed the American School approach to design and architecture at OU. Students had the opportunity to work in the same studio space in which the original fellows worked alongside of Wright.

Wright is known around the world for his contributions to architecture, including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York and Fallingwater in Pennsylvania. He was also named “the greatest American architect of all time” by the American Institute of Architects in 1991.

“Hearing from people that knew Mr. Wright personally, sharing his experiences and their own was an honor,” said Ashley Darden, an architecture student in the course. “Not many people can have that experience. It was amazing having that opportunity and being able to apply their knowledge to what I am achieving in school currently.”

In addition to studio exercises, lectures, and tours, the students were able to experience camping out in the desert shelters to understand the basic needs of shelter occupants.

“The students’ living and design became integrated and profoundly harmonious,” said Dr. Natalie Ellis, assistant professor of interior design and one of the professors leading the course.

Now, the students have a better understanding of organic architecture as well as a newfound respect for nature and the environment when designing the built environment, according to Associate Professor Mia Kile. Kile is also an interior design faculty member that helped lead the course.

“The course was a life changing experience delivering opportunities that they are unable to have within the typical studio experience,” said Ellis. “It delivered a fresh insight of home, shelter, and design, so the final outcome is an experience that will impact the way they design immensely.”

Read more about this experience on the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation website.

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Photos provided by Mia Kile