In the early 1930's, at the age of 65, Frank Lloyd Wright found himself at a career crossroads. With masterpieces such as Fallingwater, the Guggenheim Museum and the S.C. Johnson & Son Company Administration Building still in his future, the Great Depression was taking its toll on American development in general and Wright's architectural practice in particular. A dearth of commissions forced him to spend more time concentrating on research and teaching. The harsh winter climate in Wisconsin pushed him to relocate his architectural school first to rented space in Arizona, but eventually to consider acquisition of land there and establish a more permanent presence. In 1937, in conjunction with the Taliesin Fellowship, Wright founded Taliesin West, a school of architecture which continues in operation to the present day.
Taliesin West was literally a laboratory for studying architectural means and methods in Wright's work, and the Taliesin Fellowship maintains an extensive archive of Wright's drawings and letters. The stunning desert setting permitted Wright and his students to experiment "hands-on" with different construction and detailing techniques. The design of the school illustrates many of Wright's architectural principles, notably the compact spaces with low horizontal lines, clean detailing, a close relationship with nature, artwork integrated with the architecture, and the extensive use of built-in furnishings and sculptural ornamentation.