PROJECT AND DATES: Shelter Design Build, 2000-2001
LOCATION: Taliesin West, Arizona (Scottsdale)
CREDITS: Aaron Kadoch- Design and Construction
Photography : Aaron Kadoch
This project was a thesis project in architecture graduate school while studying at the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture from 1998-2001. The school has a rich history of building desert shelters, beginning in 1937, when Frank Lloyd Wright decided to build a desert retreat to compliment his home in Spring Green, Wisconsin (Taliesin). The School of apprentices working with Wright in his professional practice also were officially students of Wright, working in the traditional master-apprentice model of craftsmanship oriented design practice. This style of “learning by doing” is still alive today. Originally shelters were constructed of wood and canvas until wright created the signature “desert masonry” – a form work technique unique to Wright and the Sonoran Desert with its burnt oxide colored stones of orange and brown. This shelter, like all new shelters today, began with an existing equilateral triangle tent base 8′ on all sides. The shelter design uses this triangle as the main hub or open air court connecting two rectangular roofed forms. The structure is a steel frame prefabricated in the shop at Taliesin as bolt-able panels and frames that were erected on site in a matter of 5 hours. Infill materials in the frame became an experimental consortium of desert masonry with stone taken directly from the site. The style of masonry was laid up without a form, yet has rebar reinforcements connecting it to the steel structure. Other panel experiments include, custom concrete panels, glass block, thermo- clear and laminated glass and perforated steel. The roofs are made of simple corrugated metal and fiberglass- easily replaceable when the materials breakdown or a new material become available for future students. Together the materials form a quilt of materials that can highlight a strict study in geometry and volume, light and air, and a way for the architecture to highlight the amazing desert landscape and the immediate site features where the shelter is situated. Most striking is the giant Seguaro Cactus, which has inspired the green roof which casts a wonderful green hue on the otherwise industrial materials. The shelter represents the beginning of my own design philosophy, which has evolved but stayed true to baseline ideals focused on construction methodology and craftsmanship, materiality custom design innovation,inspiration with and the highlighting of the natural landscape and creating environments of experience where light and color and texture informs a spatial investigation for the visitor.