Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture faces major deadline

The drafting studio inside Taliesin West in Scottsdale.

The drafting studio inside Taliesin West in Scottsdale.

The Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture at Taliesin announced on Aug. 4 that it had reached almost 50 percent of the one-million-dollar fundraising goal it needs to reach by the end of August on its way to independent status.The remaining $500,000 of these funds must be promised to the school by Aug. 25 for the school’s Campaign for Independence to move forward.

In December of 2014, after an agreement between the Board of The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation and The Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture, the school agreed to raise $2 million, $1 million of it by the end of this month, in order to achieve the financial autonomy necessary to become an independent organization, according to a press release.

Providing one of the most notable educational experiences in the country, the school’s professional M.Arch degree program offers graduate students hands-on, design-intensive studio experiences within the immersive educational communities of Taliesin West in Scottsdale and Taliesin, in Spring Green, Wis., stated the release.

This last year, the school has revamped its curriculum and standards to provide the best possible experimental graduate program in architecture, stated the release.

Building on the work and thought of Frank Lloyd Wright, it focuses on learning how to make the human-made environment more sustainable, open, and beautiful. At the core of students’ study is working with local communities to both design and build projects, and the making of a shelter that each student lives in for his or her final semester, according to the release.

Despite its sterling reputation and recent successes, accreditation for the school has been threatened because the Higher Learning Commission changed its by-laws and would no longer accredit schools that are operating divisions of larger institutions with multi-faceted missions.

Facing the possibility of the school losing accreditation and potentially closing, longtime supporters of the school suggested the possibility of raising substantial funds to create and support an independently incorporated school, stated the release.

The Foundation Board readily agreed that, if the school community could raise funds sufficient to demonstrate that the new organization would have “its own financial resources” (as explicitly required by the HLC’s by-laws) then spinning off the school would not present the same obstacles.

The new, independent school organization would take ultimate fiduciary responsibility for itself, according to the release.

As part of the new structure, the foundation would donate over $1 million in facilities-related cash expenses every year, related to the school’s extensive use of Taliesin West and Taliesin as its campuses, at no cost to the school, stated the release.

The foundation would also contribute an additional subsidy of $580,000 to the school in 2015, with decreasing levels of such additional transitional support over the next five years (but always continuing to cover 100 percent of annual facility-related expenses which total more than $1 million annually).

“The Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture is vital to the Spring Green community,” stated Janet Gee, local resident and long-time supporter of the school, in the release. “It brings creativity, culture, hands-on help, and vitality to our lives here. It also adds a needed economic boost and an incredible sense of community.”
In order to achieve the desired independence and continue as a stand-alone School of Architecture, gifts and pledges for an initial $1 million in contributions must be received by August 25, 2015 – and gifts/pledges for a second million must be received by December 31, 2015.
“There is an exceptionally bright future possible for the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture,” stated Jacalyn Lynn, chair of the school’s Board of Governors, in the release.  “But that future is only possible with the generous support of donors, right now.  Without significant and immediate support, there will no longer be a stand-alone accredited Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture.  This campaign is the only opportunity to save the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture as we know it – and to ensure its success and impact for decades to come.  I urge people to join us in this critical endeavor.”
Tax-deductible gifts, including pledges to the Campaign for Independence can be sent to:
Taliesin, The Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture
P.O. Box 4430
Scottsdale, Arizona 85261-4430Donations can also be made on www.franklloydwright.org, click donate, and enter “Campaign for Independence” on the memo line.

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