Monday, January 27, 2014

Frank Lloyd Wright's First Christian Church

This past week I visited Phoenix, Arizona, and unexpectedly fell in love with the city. The desert landscape, friendly locals, warm winter weather, and dry air all impressed me.  Of course knowing me you know there was also a lot of architectural tourism going on!  Late in his life Frank Lloyd Wright moved to nearby Scottsdale to escape the cold winters in Wisconsin. His legacy is strong in Phoenix and many buildings bear his stamp.
One of these buildings designed by Wright was actually built more than a decade after his death. The First Christian Church was designed for another organization in 1949. 20 years later the church needed a new building and bought the plans from Mrs.Wright at his nearby camp and school, Taliesin West, where the plans were stored.
Finished in 1973 the church appears to be triangular from any angle to reflect the Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Ghost), while in fact is not 3-sided at all. Stone, concrete, glass, and copper fit in well to the desert landscape.
This interesting concrete jungle near the entry provides a beautiful shaded outdoor spot to congregate away from the strong desert sun.
While I remain a classicist my rules soften in different climates. Don't you agree this is a more suitable style in the circa 1973 suburban desert than a Gothic cathedral?
Join me in the following weeks as I feature some of my discoveries in beautiful Phoenix, Arizona!

8 comments:

An Urban Cottage said...

Yes, this is beautiful! I've been to Taliesen but I wasn't aware of this. Very cool.

Mark D. Ruffner said...

Hi, Stefan,

I visited Taliesen West four years after Frank Lloyd Wright's death, when some of his students were still busy at work there. Since my father had had his training in architecture, it was a must-see for him, and I'm glad to have had that experience through my dad.

ArchitectDesign™ said...

Mark, the school is still in operation! It's a 1 year program of about 30 students and it sounds really interesting. Not sure what the certification is though. It's 30k tuition covers meals and board and is split between Taliesen in Wisconsin and Taliesen West in Scottsdale.

home before dark said...

OK. Let's just get it over with. I can't stand Frank Lloyd Wright's work. I'm sure it's because I'm so unevolved and lacking whatever is required of a person to look at these building and even squint and see beauty or grace or spirit. Maybe in the next life or three or hundred. Personally I'd rather "worship" on a hillside or by a stream and not be bothered by all of this insistent ego built environment.

Off the soapbox now. Hope you had a wonderful trip. Can't bank sunshine, but you can have pleasant daydreams about it!

ArchitectDesign™ said...

HBD -I know what you mean! he's incredibly over-rated and there is this whole literal CULT surrounding him. However, I think he was a good designer and his work is really good and appropriate to each site. Most of it doesn't photograph well though too I think and has to be experienced in person to appreciate. We're on the same page though ;-)

Anonymous said...


Enjoy your blog a lot. Am a fan of some of FLW's work, though this doesn't do much for me (and it's sacrilege to say that here in the Chicago area, where he designed many, many houses - especially in Oak Park). Also, wanted to let you know, Taliesin in both Wisconsin and Arizona have "in" at the end rather than "en." Elisabeth

ArchitectDesign™ said...

Good catch, Elisabeth! Thanks! While this church isn't my favorite work of his either, I think its of its' time and place - would look bizarre anywhere else but it works here.

deana sidney said...

Never saw this. I wonder how many more plans are waiting to be made. I think they did a marvelous job with it. I wonder if the school had anything to do with building it???

Thanks for the tour... the palm trees do look wonderful on a cold cold day!