A Frank Lloyd Wright house that was designed for his son David was destined for its demise. Developers purchased the building with the intent to knock it down and build new homes on the land.
Like a storybook fairy tale, millionaire builder, Zach Rawling, a nearby neighbor of the property who himself had fond memories of touring the home as a child with his mother, then a second-grade teacher, stepped in to save the house. First and foremost Rawling knew he wanted to open the house doors so that others could experience the mesmerizing and historical architecture, just as he had as a child.
With additional hopes of turning the property into an educational and events center that could be used for lectures, music performances, school field trips and an occasional wedding, the question at hand was how was this going to get accomplished.
Rawling found the perfect partner in the School of Architecture at Taliesin, which Wright himself established in 1932 as an apprenticeship program.
And as any good fairy tale would have it, on the 150th anniversary of Wright’s birth, Rawling officially donated the house to the architecture school.
There are still some bumps in the road ahead, the donation is contingent on raising $7 million by the end of 2020 for an endowment to help fund restoration and operations. “The house still needs full structural restoration,” Rawling says.
Plans are in place to ensure its success, the School of Architecture will create a new nonprofit organization responsible for its Wright House programs, Rawling says. That’s being handled through the Arizona Community Foundation, which works with donors and nonprofit organizations to facilitate philanthropy benefiting Arizona communities.
Rawling expects the nonprofit to launch a formal capital campaign this fall. Ultimately, the goal will be growing the endowment to $15 million, to help fund future operations and programming at the 6-acre site.
But School of Architecture programming is set to begin before those funds are in place.
It’s certain that plans will face some opposition from those who want to see the site preserved solely as a residence.